Phone man Holds Phone and Looks Angry Brown Background-g96c0c2b3c_640When I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile, it wasn’t a problem to cancel once I finally got the correct information on what to do.

However, some consumers have found it difficult or nearly impossible to cancel a service because companies illegally trick or trap people who use their services.

An example is Vonage, a phone company that didn’t give customers an easy way to cancel their services.

Vonage used hurdles called “dark patterns” that made people: hunt for the cancellation phone number; go from agent to agent with repeated sales pitches when they called; and pay high early termination fees when they cancelled, the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday in a settlement with Vonage. Even when people navigated Vonage’s process and canceled their accounts, Vonage continued to charge them without permission in many cases.

As part of the settlement, Vonage will pay $100 million that the FTC will send to the small businesses and customers who were harmed by the company’s practices.

When you sign up for a product or service, find out the company’s policies on:

  • Easy and simple cancellation. Is it as easy to cancel as it is to sign up? Before you order, look at the company’s refund and return policies, and whether you’ll be charged any cancellation fees.
  • Automatic renewal. When you know you don’t want to renew your plan, look at the company’s cancellation policy. Make sure it won’t automatically renew before you can cancel it. For more on avoiding renewal charges, click here.
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Rita Robison Consumer & Personal Finance Journalist

For more than two decades, Rita R. Robison has been a consumer and personal finance journalist making her living by finding the best bargains, calling out the crooks, and advocating for regular people just like you and me. In that time, Robison has talked to so many people who feel like their money just isn’t getting them what they want, where they want to be, or the life they thought it would.

The purpose of her blog is to help you get what you want from your money. Robison covers financial goals, budgets, debt reduction, saving, smart choices for buying goods and services, and retirement planning. You’ll also find articles on safety, such as avoiding scams, looking out for rip off companies, and getting informed on the latest recalls.

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