Customer Retention Strategies: Make it Easy to Cancel Memberships

So here’s the story. There will be a quiz at the end.

  • Once upon a time, I subscribed to an eCard company that I’m going to call Colorful Peaks. (I’m sure the smartypants out there will be able to figure it out.)
  • I subscribed to Colorful Peaks over ten years ago. I know this because when I recently went to put in my old standby password to login, it didn’t work, nor did any combination of password I’ve been using for the last ten years.
  • I can’t remember the last time I sent an eCard through Colorful Peaks.
  • This past Saturday, at 6:30 a.m., I received an email from Colorful Peaks reminding me that it was renewal time and that my credit card was going to be charged $15.99. The email also said this: If you prefer to discontinue your membership, you can find easy instructions on our Help pages. Go to <redacted link>, sign in, and click on ‘All About my Paid Membership’.
  • I immediately clicked on the link, thinking I’d cancel my membership right then and there.
  • I did not read the above “rules” carefully, and only clicked on the link and did not sign in. I was on a main Help Center page. I’m a savvy user, however, so I clicked on the section that said, “How do I…” This brought me to a page that listed a bunch of FAQ links, including “How do I cancel my subscription?
  • I clicked on the link, and was told I needed to login if I wanted to read the answer.
  • GRRRR.
  • So I entered my email address, which was the user name, and tried every combination of password I’ve been using for the last ten years. Nada. So I went through the “Forget password? Click here” rigmarole, and waited for the password to be emailed to me.
  • I got the password, actually said out loud to no one “Wow!,” reflected for several minutes on how much my life has changed since using such a password, got depressed, thought about putting tequila in my coffee, pouted because I had to be somewhere at 8 a.m. and didn’t want to go because I would rather wallow in my depression (I’m a sadist that way), and then rallied because I needed to cancel the damn account, shower, eat, feed the cat, go through my obsessive compulsive routine of shutting off the stove and checking the lights three times, and get out of the house.
  • So I quickly logged in, poised for an easy cancellation process, ONLY TO BE TOLD THIS: To request a cancellation of a subscription, please contact our membership support center by calling 1-888-254-1450, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. EST.
  • DOUBLE GRRR.
  • Let’s recap here: they send me the reminder at 6:30 am on a Saturday, try to confuse and depress me with the process of trying to figure out how to cancel my account, and leave me hanging for 48 hours before I can possibly attempt to cancel said account since they sent me the reminder on the weekend, and, no doubt, were hoping I’d have forgotten about it by Monday (they hadn’t counted on the fact I’m an angry blogger with no life).

Here’s the quiz: Couldn’t the folks at Colorful Peaks have put the cancellation information in the email to begin with? Yes or no?

Answer: Yes. Yes they could have. They chose not to.

I don’t understand why companies don’t let customers cancel online. Okay, I do understand why, and so does Saint Godin who talks about the reason in his recent post about stamps.com, but that doesn’t make it any better.

However, I could have forgiven Colorful Peaks for this requirement if the folks running the show had inserted the cancellation instructions in the body of the reminder email, which, by the way, had a subject line of “Important news about your Colorful Peaks Membership.”

Here’s your homework, business owners: when it comes to customer retention strategies, don’t follow this example. If you’re already doing something like this, go fix it. Now.

UPDATE: I drafted this post yesterday, but I just called to cancel my account. I started out with an auto attendant who decided my request was too complicated and handed me to a live person. This person was nice enough and efficient and of course wanted to know why I was canceling. I decided to see how she would respond to “I just can’t afford it.” She said they could lower the price to $11.99. I said no thanks.

4 replies
  1. Steve T.
    Steve T. says:

    It seems that “Colorful Peaks” is more interested in retaining members through roadblocks and a desperation discount than offering a terrific service that people would pay extra for. Even those of us in sunny Santa Monica know that’s not the best approach.

    Reply
  2. soloportfolio
    soloportfolio says:

    Robyn: You are too funny. And by the way, I have no damn idea who “Colorful Peaks” is… too subtle for this blockhead.

    Reply

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