Programs that automatically renew have been under a lot of scrutiny lately. Although the focus of scrutiny has often been on how people sign up, both regulators and plaintiffs’ attorneys have also been paying attention to how people cancel. (Click here and here, for example.) A recent decision from the NAD shows that they’re paying attention, too.
NAD initiated an inquiry into Blue Apron’s sponsored Instagram post with a statement that “Canceling meals is easy.” In reviewing whether Blue Apron offers consumers easy ways to cancel meals, NAD noted that the FTC’s recent report on “dark patterns” suggests that consumers should be able to cancel a subscription-based service through the same medium they used to sign up.
During the course of the inquiry, Blue Apron discontinued the practice of requiring customers to send an email for instructions on how to cancel their subscription. Now, customers have multiple ways to cancel their account via the Blue Apron app and website without contacting the company. Because consumers can sign up and cancel online, NAD determined that Blue Apron could support the claim.
We didn’t get an invitation to dinner, so we don’t know whether NAD used a Blue Apron subscription to cook any meals before easily canceling those meals. But we do know that cancellation processes will continue to be on the menu for plaintiffs, regulators, and (now) self-regulatory bodies. Make sure yours is easy and intuitive.