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Caveat Emptor: APS Billing (for Jiu-jitsu.net)
We've all known the day would come when the "respectable" martial arts succumbed to the pressure and became the same ruthless, unscrupulous merchandising and marketing machines that we typically associate with Shaolin-Do, Om-Young Do and others of their ilk. It's a shame that such a story has to trump Gannon's victory over Kimbo Slice, but the leader decreed it.
Recently I learned that I am being charged 9.99 a month for some newsletter through jiu-jitsu.net. It is being done through a third-party billing company.
I called the billing company to inquire about the charges, which were not described, and was told that it was for a subscription to jiu-jitsu.net's e-newsletter. After that call, I went to jiu-jitsu.net to register for the e-newsletter under a different email address, and there was no mention of billing, there was just a confirmation email to which I had to reply in order to finalize registration.
I called the billing company back again, and asked to confirm with the representative that I was being billed by jiu-jitsu.net and that it was for a newsletter. She wouldn't tell me who was charging me, and told me it was a "Karate school". I told her again I wanted to confirm the company on whose behalf they were billing me. She directed me to the voicemail of the last person I spoke to.
Not satisfied, I called back, and got the first person again. I told her that the newsletter registration didn't mention charges and required no information for registration other than an email address. She told me that they had my credit card information, so obviously I did register.
Of course, I ordered a book from them some time ago, and that was directly through them.
Using their checkout, I found a spot that offered a "Free-One Month Trial" of the newsletter. Which is odd because I registered for it through a blind hotmail account just an hour earlier.
The billing company, ASP told me I have to send them a snail mail letter in order to cancel.
And furthermore, at jiu-jitsu.net's checkout it looks like they pull one of these:
I do NOT want to receive a 1 month FREE trial membership to Jiu-Jitsu.Net's eNewsletter and Discount List.
What Do I Get? Regular subscription is $9.99 per month. You will automatically remain subscribed unless you contact us to cancel after your free month.
I should point out, I think I saw these charges before, but the billing company's initials, APS, made me think it was billing for a paper or something I might have ordered from the APSA, the American Political Science Association.
I sent an email to Jiu-Jitsu.Net to complain, which was fruitless. I guess checking this one box should indicate I DON'T want to subscribe, while checking any of the others indicates that I DO want the item in question. And of course, they use small print to protect our tender little eyes from harm, and not to minimize the fact that you are going to be regularly charged for a newsletter and a "discount" that has cost me nearly seventy dollars so far.
I responded to their mealy-mouthed apologies with this:
This is unacceptable. I have been charged, by my hasty estimate, nearly seventy dollars. I'm a hand-to-mouth university student, and would never have agreed to sign over ten dollars a month for a newsletter.
Your fine print notice is in bad faith. You know very well what you're doing. This tactic I thought, was
reserved to pornographers. Those deliberate opt-out tactics are widely considered to be shady and
deceptive. I shouldn't be charged for something I did not choose myself, and which you merely embedded into your checkout page. I had no idea I would have to be so wary around otherwise respectable retailers.
I am contesting the charges with my bank, as I have quite deliberately been tricked.
Last edited by The Wastrel; 11/16/2004 2:44pm at .