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A certain company has charged me $150/year for the same service for the past several years. But then this month when they renewed they decided to add an extra service to my autorenewal without any notice and charged me $500 for it. Can they do that? It's not that the price went up, it's that they added something I didn't order.

They haven't responded to my emails so I'll call soon and complain, but in case they refuse to remove the extra service and charge me the amount I originally agreed for just the service I originally ordered, what is the next step? Chargeback? How successful would I be if they disputed the chargeback? Anything I can do to increase my odds of success?

Update: I called them, and the rep said something about me be being signed up for a "package", but he changed it back to what it had been and refunded the difference. All is well.

  • What country are you in? If in the US, what state? Local laws vary. – Freiheit Feb 23 '18 at 16:33
  • Are you charging to a debit or credit card? – Freiheit Feb 23 '18 at 16:35
  • This is a credit card. – BradDaBug Feb 23 '18 at 17:03
  • Country tag please. – Chris W. Rea Feb 23 '18 at 17:37
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In many cases they probably had some clause in a contract that allowed them to charge you for an additional service for something. For instance, my cable company is constantly changing their rates and slowly raising the fees. They usually send a simple two line note that as of X date the service will be an additional X dollars. It's a poor business model in my opinion, but rarely is it illegal (especially if it is a reputable company to begin with).

As for your options:

My first step would have been, like you, to contact the company. In the past I've had an amazon membership (for example) that somehow got activated. It was a pain to get a real person on the line, but once I did they refunded it; all 4 months.

If they truly aren't responding to your inquiries through the proper channels, then your next option is to initiate a charge back through your payment provider. If your payment method is a credit card or check card (with a visa or mastercard logo) then the odds are very good that they will simply reverse the charges you tell them to; just politely but directly tell them that you never authorized those charges and the company has not responded to your inquiries to have them removed. If the charges go back more than a couple of months, you may have to ask for a special exception to reverse those. But generally those credit card companies work for their customers (you!) very well and will reverse anything they reasonably believe you did not intend to pay for.

Realize though, that going the charge back route will probably at best sour your relationship with the company, and at worst result in collections actions against you; especially if they did have a legal right to charge you for the service based on a user agreement.

  • After reading the terms of service, it sounds like they can change anything about the service, but it also says in several places that if they do they will notify me 30 days ahead of time. That never happened, unless they mean they quietly updated their website or something like that. – BradDaBug Feb 23 '18 at 17:09
  • That's usually the case with long term, auto-renew services. That said, if they value your business they will make it right. And if they don't, I wouldn't feel too bad about initiating a charge back for the difference in the price. Just be aware you will probably only do that once, so if you want to continue the service you'll have to work it out with the company. – Keith Feb 23 '18 at 17:51
  • @BradDaBug If you do keep working with them after this is resolved, I'd turn off the auto-renew. Stuff like this is actually why I don't usually turn it on to begin with. – Andy Feb 24 '18 at 15:20
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To directly answer your question about being successful - Review and read your contracts. Both for the services you're paying for as well as any additional terms for automatic payments.

These contracts will cover what you agreed to when you signed up for the services.

Also review the terms for your credit or debit card with respect to automated recurring payments. There may be different rules for those than for traditional purchases.

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