Subscriptions are here to stay. And although they give us the amazing ability to turn services on and off with ease, there are also some inherent things that are just downright annoying to most people.
1. Forgetting to cancel them!
We come from an economy where we are used to buying things. We pay for something once and it belongs to us. Forever. With the advent of subscriptions taking over the world, we now only pay for the rights to use something for a period of time, and if we want to keep using it, well, we keep paying for it. Super convenient… unless of course you stop using it and fail to cancel the subscription.
Let’s use an exercise bike as an example. We buy it with full intentions of using it forever and being super healthy, right? We don’t actually wake up one morning and say, “OK – I’m done with the bike. I’m not going to use it any more”. It’s a lot more gradual than that. We might use it every day for the first few weeks, then maybe twice a week for a few more… and then eventually not at all. It sits there collecting dust.
So, if we purchased the bike in a traditional sense, no problem – it can sit there forever collecting dust. It won’t cost us anything more than we already paid for it. Now, if we obtained the bike via a subscription paying $50 per month for as long as we wanted it, we would now have a problem. For every month that goes by that it’s forgotten, another $50 disappears from our bank account.
We’re not instinctively wired to remember and cancel the things we’re not using because we’ve traditionally never needed to. It didn’t historically cost us money. With subscriptions, it can cost you a fortune!
2. It can be really difficult to cancel them.
This problem is a frustrating one and it’s also about ethical business practices in my opinion.
Unfortunately, there are many subscription services that believe the best way to keep a customer is to make it really difficult for them to unsubscribe – burying the unsubscribe button at the end of a maze of links, pages and email requests.
If a company cannot retain a customer with a good product (and great service), then creating a tangled frustrating path to unsubscribe is going to do nothing but frustrate the customer – generally guaranteeing they will never return.
I cannot fathom to understand the logic here, but – some of the biggest companies do it.
3. Perception of poor value, or being taken advantage of…
Without a doubt, there are subscription services out there that are completely overpriced for the value and benefits they provide. Generally though, the companies that provide services and managed to survive more than a few years have gone through a rigorous process of identifying the price point that is competitive in the market and sustainable for their business to survive.
The challenge for the customer of course is understanding the value of the benefit they are looking to gain by signing up to a subscription service. It should be a straight forward business case of “am I going to make more money, or save more money or time by spending money on this service?”
If the answer is yes, then the service is good value. If the answer is no, then it probably isn’t good value.
The interesting thing is there are millions of services available to us now. From products, software, wine, you name it, you can expect to find a related subscription service. The value you might get from a service is likely to be very different from the value someone else gets.
The business case is going to be different for everyone and all products are not for everyone.
If it doesn’t suit you, don’t sign up.
There are many reasons to get frustrated with subscriptions and it’s important to recognise that this is a different world we live in where we have amazing things at our fingertips. The change that has enabled so many things, also requires a different way of paying for them. We need to be able to adjust the way we operate to take full advantage of this new world, and avoid the pitfalls.
Gabe Alves | Founder of TrackMySubs