Posted on by Peter Rettig

Automatic Subscription Renewals – Good or Annoying?

Rocky Mountan Rider (Update: We wrote this post before our decision to make GamesforLanguage a free site for all. Our 300 Quick Games in French, Spanish, German, and Italian can be played online just by clicking on the link naming the language. For our 36 lesson travel-story Courses, you need to register. That makes sure you can continue where you left off when you come back to the site.)

Recently I subscribed to an online language course that uses an automatic subscription renewal.

I subscribed for one month to try out a new language and I set a reminder to cancel the subscription a few days before the automatic renewal.

When my reminder alerted me, I started looking and got annoyed when I could not find a place to cancel.
I finally found the answer in the FAQs: write an e-mail to sales@company or send a short note via “Feedback” while logged-in to the site.

I was promised a confirmation within 48 hours, which indeed arrived just before the automatic renewal date. This experience was similar to ones I had at other automatic renewal sites: Quite easy to subscribe, but time consuming and often annoying to cancel!

Good for the Company

I have always been wary of automatic renewals, except for certain services, e.g. subscriptions to news, magazines, investment, or other services you need and value on an ongoing basis.

Although I understand full well the benefits of automatic renewals - FOR THE COMPANY - I believe users of an online language learning service should at least be given the option at the start. It should not be made obligatory.

(I love the picture above, which is part of the automatic renewal plan of the monthly magazine.)

Motivation for the Learner?

But maybe automatic renewals are a good thing for a learner. Learning a foreign language as an adult requires ongoing motivation and encouragement.

Could it be that the automatic renewal charge that appears on your monthly credit card or Paypal statement provides another motivational push to log in again and continue learning?

We'd love to hear some comments and opinions on this question: Are obligatory automatic subscription renewals for online language programs a good thing or do they annoy you?