November 6, 2018

I cancelled a user's free trial(w/ credit card) that was about to end. Was this the right to do?

Hey fellow Indie Hackers!

I just cancelled a customer's free trial(w/ credit card) for Telemonetize (www.telemonetize.com) one hour before it ended. It was a $29/month plan

Judging from the user's actions on the website he/she completely forgot about it. He/she was not using the product or had it setup perfectly

I also contacted him/her, did not hear back. I did it anyway

Was this the right thing to do?

On the one hand, we aren't running charities but businesses. We are trying to change our lives and money is what keeps the ball rolling

On the other hand, it was clear that this person just forgot and would be charged for nothing

What do you think?


  1. 24

    I won't actively cancel for a user that is inactive, but if someone asks for a refund because they forgot to cancel. I will refund, no questions asked, if the account has been inactive.

    1. 7

      This is the correct answer. And also how the majority of gyms stay in business (minus the refund part because gyms definitely won't be doing that).

    2. 1

      This is correct especially because taking action on someone’s property without their consent is wrong. You have no idea what the person intended to do.

      If you’re worried about refunds (I wouldn’t) or chargebacks (they’re rare and not a problem), be sure to automatically email before trials end.

  2. 21

    Regardless of whether this customer was going to ask for a refund or not, it seems like you did this because you felt like it was the right thing to do. Yes, we are running businesses. But we are also individuals with our own set of principles. Personally, one of the benefits of running a business is having the freedom to act the way we believe we should rather than having someone else tell us how to act.

    1. 2

      Totally second that. I think you did the right thing . Great customer service! You have the 💓 at the right place.

    2. 2

      Excellent point!

  3. 5

    I think you did the right thing. If you knew the customer wasn't actively engaged with your product, then you chose the high ground by cancelling it so they don't get charged. They might not mention anything to you, but you most likely would have heard something if they got charged and hadn't been using it. That might have looked bad for you.

  4. 4

    You're awesome and I'd like to add a few things the others have missed:

    First of all, if the customer would have canceled later, you might have refunded them but refunds cost you money!

    Secondly, you are able to automate this. You already should have data on your user activity and flag them if they fall behind their duty as good citizens ;)

    Thirdly, and I had to ask this: is this happening often? Are your users as active as you'd like them to be? Are you sure your product has found its market?

  5. 4

    Was this the right thing to do?

    Authenticity and goodwill are values that can get customers to keep coming back.

    Just don't say yes now and no tomorrow. Be consistent.

  6. 3

    I like that you did that - good for you Alex! Too many companies are sleazy with their payments and you weren't which to my way of thinking makes what you did the right thing to do. I disagree with inertia selling and the whole rolling subscriptions thing. I think if you have a good product and people want to pay for it great but don't trick people into paying for something they're not using.

  7. 3

    You'll get to a point when you'll have too many customers using your saas and you won't be able to check every single user's account and if they're utilizing your services. I would have let it gone through and maybe it would have been a reminder for them to come use the service. What if they started using it, loved it, and told a few friends.

    You did the right thing of course, but we offer refunds on user's who hit us up after their free trial and let us know they're not interested. It's part of it.

  8. 1

    Good job! Thumbs up!

  9. 1

    Thought: How much of Spotify's, Netflix's, or even your local gym's revenue comes from unused accounts? A huge %, that's what.

  10. 1

    I think you did the right thing. As others have said you might not be able to do it at scale or for everyone but I think it was a good idea.

    I tend not to take credit cards at the start of a trial so I don't worry about that. If you can automate that process of cancelling a trial that isn't used I think it could be a good perk and make potential users feel better.

    Always worth trying something different.

  11. 1

    I believe you can't monitor all the accounts, and so is the responsibility of the client to cancel a subscription. With us at DEVY we refund the clients that forget to cancel, we all have many things to do and can't remember everything :)

  12. 1

    If you don't use your Amazon Prime or Spotify subscription, do you get your money back?

    Users sign up for these trials and my view is that unless they cancel, they should be charged, as that's the agreement of the trial. Often taking that first payment will encourage them to actually use the product and worst case if it does result in angry message, then you can always refund at a later date.

  13. 1

    Morally I agree. But one more thing to consider is that if the charge DID go through and the customer really forgot about it, you now may be prone to a chargeback as some people don't bother asking for refunds (been there, done that).

    So I think it is also better to just move on if the customer was not at all doing anything and just forgot about it. But make sure you have at least 3 reach outs to the customer BEFORE canceling the subscription in case they still intend to stay and pay.

  14. 1

    Not sure exactly what you wrote to them, but try the "break up" message. Steli Efti of Close.io explains it pretty well in his videos and also here: https://blog.close.io/the-breakup-email

    The idea is to send a very emotionally impactful "we're done" message that hopefully gets the other person to respond, "wait, no, don't go away!".

    Also, try to send two notifications, not just one. First one a week before termination, and a second one two days before. Once you terminate them, send them a notification of the termination, and a way to quickly get back onboard.

  15. 0

    No, you let the billing proceed. Think about how Amazon, Showtime, Netflix, et al function.