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A customer used to have a VIP account with a California social media company that charges a monthly subscription fee.

In July 2021, the customer disabled his account and terminated his VIP. No service is received since July 2021. The customer did not log-on the social media platform and did not send/post any messages. However, for the whole year, the merchant is still charging the customer's card for an expensive subscription fee.

The customer carefully read the merchant's T&C which does not explicitly allow the merchant to charge a fee for a disabled account; in fact, the word "disable" is not mentioned in their full T&C. However, the merchant claims that the customer was notified that "a disabled account can still incur VIP fees". The customer never receive any notification through email or mail.

What rights does the consumer have in this case?

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    Depends on the wording of the terms. A disabled account is still an account. Perhaps the customer needs to terminate/delete it instead of merely disabling.
    – Greendrake
    Jul 14 at 4:47
  • @Greendrake The T&C does not mention the word "disabled".
    – dodo
    Jul 14 at 6:11
  • It doesn't necessarily need to mention the word "disabled" to charge you for a disabled account.
    – Greendrake
    Jul 14 at 6:16
  • @Greendrake How does that work, legally?
    – dodo
    Jul 14 at 6:19
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    You agree to pay for an account without specifying whether it is disabled or not. So, so long as it exists, you pay. Disabled or not is irrelevant.
    – Greendrake
    Jul 14 at 6:37

1 Answer 1

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The fact that the terms and conditions do not mention the word "disable" is significant, but not in the way you seem to think.

You state: "...the merchant's T&C which does not explicitly allow the merchant to charge a fee for a disabled account". However, this doesn't mean that the merchant needs to explicitly state that they may. What it actually means is that the merchant does not recognize the term "disable" in the context of terminating the service contract. (Did they use stop, terminate, delete, eliminate, fall into disuse, log off, etc. or any other similar expressions?)

You haven't defined what "disable" means, but perhaps it is more like a "pause" in service for which payment is still required? (Like having the post office hold your mail vs terminating all deliveries.)

What you need to do is to read the section of the T&Cs that deals with terminating service and payment, understand what is required, and execute the procedures they describe. Whatever words they use, do that. If you have done all the steps and can prove it then you have a case against them, otherwise you are arguing semantics and interpretation...

As to the title question, it does not appear that any "law" has been broken, this is just a contractual misunderstanding.

P.S. This is the reason why I always set up payments through my bank to "push" money to vendors rather than authorizing them to "pull" money from me. When I am done I notify them and stop paying. I don't need to ask them to please stop taking it from me.

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  • I think your points are all valid, legally. It is just unbelievable that I have to take a screenshot of myself when I click on "terminate membership" every time, otherwise I have no evidence to prove that I indeed terminated their membership.
    – dodo
    Jul 15 at 5:10
  • Well, you may still have a case if you can prove that no service was provided during this time. And there ought to be some sort of confirmation beyond taking a screenshot, typically systems will acknowledge closing an account with an automated email. But, you are terminating other people's accounts? How does this work? If this is a business for you you'd be wise to work out a mistake proof process with the company you are doing business with to prevent future occurrences. Jul 15 at 23:43
  • By "their membership" I meant the "social media company's membership" purchased by me. For evidence I don't think the company is sending out confirming for closing an accounts.
    – dodo
    Jul 19 at 8:49

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