The FTC earlier this year proposed a rule that would require companies to make it as easy for customers to stop recurring charges as it is to sign up to them. That would mean an end to onerous “click to subscribe, call to cancel” routines and other systems designed to introduce friction into the cancellation process.

Some consumers have complained of feeling trapped by deliberately tricky cancellation mechanisms, a problem lately exacerbated by the sheer number and variety of recurring-payment memberships now on the market, according to the FTC.

In other responses to the FTC, which closed the comments period on the proposal in June, publishers and advertisers say some of the commission’s ideas would induce new headaches for consumers and companies alike, and argue that the system works fine as it is. 

The FTC’s proposal could cause new frustrations for customers because they have become used to protracted procedures, according to the Association of National Advertisers.

Inadvertent cancellations could cause consumers to miss out on essential deliveries of food, water or medical products, and could create the inconvenience of requiring the consumer to register again for a service they didn’t intend to cancel in the first place, the ANA said.

Trade groups say making the cancellation process a multilayered event—often involving logging in with a password, and double checking that a consumer wants to end a subscription—protects consumers and sellers.

In video gaming, the process of signing up to recurring payments often presents itself in the middle of gameplay, although cancellation options are often found in a users’ account settings, the Entertainment Software Association said in a comment. And when cancelling, many video games display information about the in-game benefits the customer will lose before cancellation is completed.

Companies also often try to stop customers from leaving by offering them better deals before they complete the cancellation process. A “call to cancel” mechanism lets some companies personalise a better deal for a would-be fleeing customer, and better understand why customers are leaving, some customer experience executives say.

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