Good guy MasterCard wants to put an end to bogus apps that siphon your money through subscriptions

Good guy MasterCard wants to put an end to bogus apps that siphon your money through subscriptions
We've all seen these apps — you spot their fancy-looking ad on your Instagram or Facebook feed, you download them "for free". Turns out, the app will only let you use it if you sign up — there's a 3-day trial, then you instantly get billed for the next month of usage. Prices usually vary between $5 or $15 per month. And, at the end, the app turns out to be nothing special after all.

Now, it's clear who these are made to prey upon — some people are not that tech-savvy, some will forget to cancel the subscription before the trial is up, some will think that deleting the app from their smartphone is enough to cut the deal short. And bam — before you know it, you're $5 short. You might not even notice it in your credit card statement and continue to finance them through the year.

MasterCard is taking the user's side, it seems. In a statement, the company has outlined additional rules, which service providers would need to meet in order to get a MasterCard transaction approval.

Going forward, merchants will need to send an email or a text to customers once their free trial ends. In it, they need to reiterate the subscription price, payment date, the name of the company, and include instructions on how to cancel a subscription, should the user want to. Going forward, service providers will be required to send you a receipt for each transaction, containing information on the monthly charges, the merchant's contact details, as well as instructions on how to cancel the subscription at any time.

The new rules should make it harder for sneaky providers to pull money out from under unsuspecting users' noses and will also probably lighten the load of complaints piling on MasterCard's Customer Service department desk. Unfortunately, honest and legitimate service providers will now need to set up systems in place to make this process painless, but what can you do — that's the price for honesty and transparency in this market.

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3 Comments

1. middlehead

Posts: 453; Member since: May 12, 2014

Prey Upon, not pray upon.

2. kennybenny

Posts: 212; Member since: Apr 10, 2017

Those apps/games tend to be very sneaky with the fine print in a color that is not readable....... And to make things worse, the apps charge per week but it isn't a reasonable $2-3 per week but $8 per week which I think is a rip-off for a single app. Can you imagine your credit card bill if you decide to subscribe to every app. Those apps are designed to suck money out of your wallet! Nevertheless, very nice to see MC step in......

3. Fellwalker

Posts: 535; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

Continuing payments are the bane of the system, and the cause of huge volumes of queries. Valid until canceled with the merchant AND the card issuer. I've known closed card accounts be reactivated by one! Note that every transaction has to include a card acquiring organisation. They are responsible for taking the card information from the 'merchant' (business that takes the customer's card) . They then pass that via a payment processing organisation (often the same organisation as the acquirer) to the credit card network (mastercard or visa, etc) which charges the issuing bank /organisation, which debits the customer and passes funds back along the chain. Those card acquirers are the ones dealing with the scammers. They need to bear a lot of the responsibility. They are the ones that aren't doing due diligence on the merchant. Who knows, they may be in cahoots.

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