The Call To Cancel Scam

I recently got my apartment cleaned through an app called Handy. Their app was slick, the service was great, and my apartment is now spotless. In order to get preferential pricing, I had to sign up for a “subscription” for ongoing cleaning services, which they said I could easily cancel any time without penalty. I did just that, and the next day attempted to cancel the subscription, since I don’t actually need my apartment cleaned regularly. I fumbled around the app, was able to cancel a month's worth of scheduled cleanings, but couldn’t find a way to actually cancel the cleanings indefinitely. I finally stumbled across a paragraph in the app that said that I had to call to cancel.

I immediately knew this was a bad sign. Unless you are a startup strapped for cash and releasing an MVP, you should have the resources to build a cancelation feature into your app. Handy may be a startup, but they’ve received over $60 million in venture capital funding and surely can afford the engineering time to add in this feature. Not only did they refuse to let me cancel conveniently online, they disabled clicking or copying the phone number they provided so that I was forced to manually enter it in order to place the call.

Handy’s goal was to make canceling as difficult as possible. They had obviously concluded that it was ‘better for business’ to pay for an entire call center than to just let people cancel on their own. Every barrier they put up making cancelling more difficult has probably lead to fewer cancellations, and thus more revenue for the company. I was seriously debating whether to place the phone call at all, at first out of anger for even having to do this in the first place, and then realizing how much I was dreading having to hear a hard sales pitch, or get guilt tripped into staying on as a customer. Luckily the phone call didn’t go too bad and was relatively quick, but the fact that they made me go through this hoop left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

I can understand why Handy is so desperate to keep customers. They are competing in a difficult market, where a large rival has just gone bankrupt, partly because it failed to retain customers at a high enough rate. However their need to stay in business in no way justifies the use of underhanded tactics to lure people into continuing their service. Customer retention through inconvenience is no way to grow a company. Good companies should be able to keep customers without fine print, tricks, or shenanigans. Handy and all other companies who force customers to call to cancel should stop this immediately and let their customers cancel on their own over the internet.