Have you been scammed by Classmates.com's Gold Membership?

A year ago I purchased a 12-month Gold upgrade for Classmates.com. This week I see a charge on my credit card statement for $39 to renew it for another year. But I didn’t ask to renew it. I have been trying to reach Classmates.com to talk this out like adults but when I call their customer service phone number it seems it is always outside their normal business hours, which I suppose are continuous from noon to 1:00 PM except a one-hour break for lunch.

I called my bank to dispute the charge. The rep I talked to was quite familiar with Classmates.com. She said that when you buy a Gold membership, there is “a little tick-box” that you have to uncheck if you don’t want automatic renewal. She said if that is written into their terms of service, the bank will not dispute the charge.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Outcome?

Call your credit card. Don’t bother with the website.

If they don’t do anything, CANCEL your credit card.

That’s kind of unfair to the CC isn’t it (to cancel it)? If the OP left the box checked to auto renew, it’s not really the CC’s fault, and they shouldn’t be expected to do a charge back if the OP simply wasn’t paying attention during the registration process.

Now, if there wasn’t an auto-renew option and they just went ahead and did it, that would be different, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

CWG, you might try running through the registration process again to see if you can find the auto renew button and see how obvious it is or if it’s something really buried and designed to be missed.

This is from their terms of service:

FWIW I have signed up with auto-renewing subscription services before (not Classmates.com, tho) and forgot to cancel my account before they auto-renewed. When the charge showed up on my card I called the company and they took the charge right off and canceled my account. Seemed like SOP for them.

The trick is getting someone on the phone.

BOlding mine.) http://www.classmates.com/cm/reg/terms

Their TOS page is hidden within a popup window that doesn’t make it easy to locate the specific URL.

BTW, you are not the only one complaining.

Now that you say that, the OP said they couldn’t get someone on the phone. If you really are, honestly trying and no one is answering the phone, I could see using that as a good reason to do a charge back. If you explain to the CC company that you’ve been trying to cancel this membership but you can never get a human (and the website says you need to call), they might be willing to work with you.

I did get someone on the phone within the last 30 minutes. I asked to cancel for a refund. Even though the transaction occurred 1/14 (posted to my account 1/19) she said the charge was non-refundable.

She explained that I accepted the terms when I signed up. I asked if they had a record that I agreed to anything. She referred to me their web site. I said, “That’s what someone would agree to today. What exactly was presented when I made *my *purchase?” She said she would email it to me and I don’t have access to my email account at the moment to see what they sent.

That’s a really good/smart argument. I’m curious as to what they sent you.

Not a scam, IMO, but an unsavory business practice. I’ve seen those little tick-boxes on other sites and try to never do business with those places again. AAA got me on this via mail (not online) years ago. They got a little money out of me once and lost my business and good will forever.

I am fully expecting them to send a list of terms just like those that were quoted above. I am not expecting them to show me a screenshot with a checkbox marked off. I am not expecting any kind of auditable record of my transaction. I am not expecting my bank to dispute the charge.

Frankly I don’t even care about the 39 bucks. I am just pissed.

Obligatory link to The Onion.

That’s my thought as well. If you just keep making a stink, at most you’ll get them to reverse the charge just because they’ll eventually realize it’s not worth their time anymore. But at the very least I’d verbally get them to turn off auto-renew and even see if you can get them to remove your credit card from the system so ‘this can’t happen again’.

I bought a 3 month match.com subscription and they auto-renewed me and refused to issue a refund. There wasn`t even a check box to decline. So I got Amex to reject the charge and they did.

Then a year or so later I decided to try the site again. I didn’t have any ill will since I got my money back the first time and I didn’t really even try it in my first 3 months because I was busy and less motivated than I expected to be when I signed up.

It turned out they had blacklisted the Amex card I used to buy my first subscription, which Amex had put the chargeback through on. Seems like a reasonable thing to do, I was just surprised.

So when I bought a new 3 month membership, the very first thing I did was log in to cancel my membership. If you cancel your membership, you get to use all the time you’ve paid for but they won’t auto-renew you.

After 3 months, they charged my card again so I called up enraged to find out why they auto-renewed my account when I canceled it mere minutes after buying the membership. They said they didn’t have any record of me canceling my account and asked if I had the e-mail they sent proving it. I remember the e-mail but foolishly didn’t save it for 3 months.

So I did another chargeback and got my money back. So in spite of their best efforts to fuck me, I won twice. :smiley: At least I won’t be doing that a 3rd time…

This is a common tactic with many web-based businesses, even legitimate ones and many with monthly subscription fees as well. You have to read the forms carefully and the fine print at the bottom. Classmates will cancel your subscription and refund your money if you can get them on the line. Dispute it with the CC company now, just in case you can’t get them on the phone and you don’t want the subscription. In that case the CC company will be obliged to charge it back.

Classmates always seemed like pretty much of a scam to me.

Wow, I turned off auto-renew on match and didn’t have any problems at all with it not auto-renewing. But now I’m going to turn it on, then back off just so I can get the email and save it.

It’s a crappy business practice but common enough that I’m always on the lookout for it when I sign up for something.

A friend of mine worked for an on-line subscription service that did that but would always refund the money if someone complained. (Actually they would first ask if you wanted two years for that price and if you said “no,” they’d refund your money immediately.) Every day people would call up all furious and waiting for a fight. Some of them would be almost disappointed that the company gave in so quickly.

What really really pisses me off is when you’ll uncheck the box on such a site, then you click submit, and they’ll suddenly say “Oh, your password needs to have a number character. Please try again.” and while you weren’t looking the box was checked again as a default.

I can’t remember the site, that did this. But I remember catching it. It was a “Yes subscribe m for all the spam you can muster!” checkbox. I clicked it off and every time there was something wrong with the way I was inputing data (“Oh, this has to have an uppercase letter,. Oh, don’t put the dash in your phone number.”) the form would reset with the little fucker checked again.

I find it very frustrating that they tend to bury the automatic renewal notice during sign-in. No doubt it is made clear, but only if you are *really *paying attention.

Here is what I do. I use a Discover secure card. It is generated specifically for a site and can be canceled at any time. I always allow the charge to go through and then I cancel the number. It can’t be used again. If I want to renew the following year, I generate another number.

As I mentioned, my bank says they are familiar with Classmate’s policy and will not take a dispute from me.

Here is what I received by email from customer disservice:

Being fair to a bank that refuses to help me would be the least of my concerns.

What I would do is file a formal chargeback request, in writing. Even if you know that the result is a forgone conclusion, both the bank and the merchant need to respond. You may still be out the $39, but at least the fuckers worked for it. Then cancel the card.

I would then spend the next year using my Classmates account to do nothing but post how shitty Classmates is. Of course you’ll be preaching to the choir, but you paid your $39, you may as well vent.