Subscription and "premium" option: from subscription to cancellation

Whether you want to find love on the Internet, read the press online or have your order delivered more quickly, you may have taken out a subscription with a "bonus" option. Registration, cancellation, automatic renewal ... the terms and conditions of subscriptions vary greatly from one seller to another. You will find in this article, everything you need to know before committing yourself to such a subscription.


From free registration to paid subscription

Some websites promise free registration. But beware! Although you can generally create a profile for free, you will have to take out a paid subscription to access all of the site's features or options (for example, to access messaging services or all of the profiles on a dating site).

The price of the subscription is not always visible and can be integrated in the global price of an online purchase or a subscription to obtain a discount or a faster delivery. Be careful to always check if it is a subscription you are entering into.

A site with a URL in ".fr" or that advertises in France and in French, does not necessarily mean that the site is based in France but it remains bound to respect French law.

Before subscribing to a site, check :

  • The identity and address of the managing company. This information can usually be found in the general terms and sales conditions or the legal notice.
  • The price of the subscription: check carefully the rate as well as the payment conditions. Above all, be careful about the total amount charged.
  • Beware of promotional offers: they are only valid for a short period of time; if they are not cancelled in time and under the right conditions, they can lead to a classic subscription (for several months with a one-off payment). Read the general terms and conditions carefully!
  • The duration of the commitment: be very careful about the initial duration of the commitment because it can be several months or even a year. Generally, the mention "without commitment", “free trial” or “non binding” means that the duration of the commitment is short but you will have to ask for the cancellation of your contract to stop the renewal at the next expiration.
  • Right of withdrawal: if you have the right to change your mind after subscribing online, you no longer have this right if you agree to use the service immediately. To do this, the website must have informed you and "expressly" requested your consent to waive the right of withdrawal. If they do not do this, you can withdraw within the legal time limit of 14 days and get a full refund. If you were only informed, you keep your right of withdrawal but the site will be able to keep a part of the price paid in proportion to the use that you had of the service.
  • The conditions of renewal of your subscription (often automatic) and the modalities of cancellation, in particular the notice period provided by the general terms and conditions, or its formality (letter (registered), fax, email).

Check the subscription price before paying

Some websites present their rates per month to allow for price comparison. The longer the commitment period, the lower the monthly price. However, often the total amount of the subscription will be debited at once and not monthly. Therefore, check the final price to pay and opt for strong authentication before any online payment! The Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is a new requirement of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which aims to add extra layers of security to electronic payments (such as a password, a fingerprint, mobile phone, card reader or, other device evidenced by a one-time passcode). 

Secure your online payment by checking that a closed padlock appears and that the URL of the site is displayed in "https".

Automatic renewal of the subscription: how is it possible?

Online subscriptions and "premium" options are often renewed automatically. This is called a tacit renewal. In principle, this is only possible for an amount and duration equivalent to the initial subscription you have agreed to. Beware of the so-called "test" or “trial” periods, which are of short duration. They generally provide for an automatic renewal of the contract but for longer periods and therefore more expensive. Be very careful and cancel quickly if the service does not interest you.

The automatic renewal is very much framed by the French law and you are protected by this law if the website on which you registered was in French, in ".fr", and directing its activities to the French market (even if the company which manages the site is itself located in another country of the EU).

What does French law say about automatic renewal?

According to the "Châtel" law, you must be informed 1 to 3 months before the renewal date, of the forthcoming renewal of the contract and of the cancellation modalities by a letter or a dedicated e-mail (art. L215-1 and following of the French Consumer Code).

This is a French specificity that is often misunderstood and forgotten by dating sites based in other European countries.

Please note! This rule does not apply to all types of subscription. It depends on their duration. Therefore, be careful about the deadlines and formalities to respect in order to terminate your subscription.

If you have not received this information, you can cancel at any time, but you will still have to pay for the period of use (i.e. until the date of your cancellation request). So don't delay making your request, even if the deadlines imposed by the site have passed.

Terminate your subscription or premium option

To stop your contract or your "bonus" option subscribed, you must cancel your subscription according to the cancellation conditions indicated by the website.

Be careful with the deadlines and the formalities. Read the general conditions carefully.

Some dating sites require their customers to send a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt or a fax with certain information related to the user's account (user name, customer number, handwritten signature...) and refuse to take into account a cancellation sent directly via the website's contact form or by e-mail.

When French law is applicable (especially when the website is written in French or advertises in France), if you have subscribed online, you must also be able to cancel this contract online (principle of parallelism of forms). All the more so, if the company's only means of communication with its customers is its website and e-mails.

Account, profile and subscription: don't mix them up

The profile or account is usually created for free and the paid subscription is another contract with the operator.

  • If you simply delete your profile, this does not terminate the paid subscription. Request termination of your membership in writing, either by email or by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt. Keep a copy. Avoid taking this step by phone because the proof will be difficult to bring in case of a dispute. Be aware that to stop a payment it is not sufficient to cancel your subscription or settle a dispute with the service provider. Indeed, a payment order is considered as irrevocable (since you have given your consent). Check however with your bank our your payment card provider if chargeback is an option for you.
  • Conversely, if you cancel the paid subscription, the profile or account is not deleted. The free and limited access to the site can be maintained. It is up to you to delete your profile if you no longer wish to appear on the site or receive promotional offers from it.

You have the right to correct and delete your personal data. If, despite the deletion of your profile, you still receive solicitations from the website, expressly request by e-mail or registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt the deletion of your account and your personal data.

A right of withdrawal during 14 days after subscription?

For most goods or services purchased remotely within the European Union, you have a right of withdrawal of 14 days, including following a subscription on a dating site.

If you have not expressly agreed to start using the service or if the trader has not respected his obligation to inform you, no amount will be due if you withdraw after starting to use the service or option.

Please refer to the terms and conditions of the site for the formal requirements for a withdrawal.

Beware of hidden subscriptions

Sending a registered letter to cancel your internet subscription, getting a personalized QR code, creating a CV easily... These services are offered by many websites operating with hidden subscriptions

More information in our article "subscription-traps"

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.