Article — Opting Out of Pop-up Sales

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Are “opt-out sales”—where you have to choose not to be enrolled in a recurring transaction—a con? Or simply a marketing device?

Computer cautionWhat are opt-out sales?

Have you ever seen those pop-up boxes when you’re ready to place an on-line order? The ones that tell you a discount or a freebie is yours—as long as you agree?

The name for this is opt-out sales, and what happens when you agree is this: The merchant you are buying from passes your credit card information on to the merchant making the “discount or freebie” offer. The result: You get signed up for recurring billing for a service you may not want.

Sound like a rip-off to you? It did to the US congress, too. So now there’s a law.

What’s the law?

It’s the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA), and it became law in 2010.

The rules are simple. Participating companies must:

— Let you know when they are not affiliated with the referring merchant

— Provide a clear description of the product or service offered

— Obtain your informed consent, and disclose the terms in any recurring, fee-based program, including instructions for membership cancellation, before enrolling you in the program

— Ask you to enter all your credit card information in order to accept the marketing offer.

ROSCA is not a cure-all. The law doesn’t cover foreign merchants selling to U.S. customers, nor offers from your mobile phone company. In addition, and most importantly, ROSCA does not stop opt-out offers. Instead, it simply requires merchants to tell you up-front what they’re offering.

In other words, you’re still on your own. So follow another simple rule: Just say no.


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