Have you ever subscribed to a free online trial and forgotten to cancel before the company bills you? Some businesses argue that it makes the process of acquiring a service easier for the user, but people protest that companies benefit from obtaining information used to automatically charge unwary customers.
In an attempt to increase transparency and protect customers, Master Card just rolled out a new policy that prevents businesses from charging your card automatically.
From now on, companies using this subscription strategy will have to comply with different steps before charging a user. After a free trial ends, companies have to reach out to the customer and receive approval before billing the card. With recurring or additional payments, companies are also required to notify customers of the amount to be charged and instructions on how to opt-out from the subscription.
In an official announcement Mastercard clarified that although free trials are a great way to familiarize users with new services, they can become a pain for banks and people when subscriptions become difficult to cancel.
Master Card seems to be the only card provider to implement this policy. Hopefully, other card providers follow suit in a vow to make online subscriptions more transparent.