Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Watch out for unwanted REAL PLAYER subscriptions

I just got off the phone from a customer service rep in order to reverse a charge on my credit card for a subscription that I never had! Be aware of these "recurring charges" that can and usually will be automatic when you sign up for any online service including magazine subscriptions.

This is now the 5th year in a row that this has happened, and like clock work, pretty much exactly 3 months from the day I signed up.

What happened is I subscribed to the CBS reality game show feed of Big Brother, which is done by visiting the CBS website and then clicking on the link to "sign up now". Unfortunately this then redirects you to the Real Audio Player "gold pass subscription". Even though you click on the boxes stating that you do not want the "super pass", this is issued to you for a "free trial period". Note that if you do not do as I had to, you will continue to be paying for something that you only signed up for once. The Big Brother series is now over, and has been for about a month, however that doesn't stop Real Media from taking money from your credit card. You see, they expect you to go back to their website and click on CUSTOMER SERVICE and then CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION. By the way, don't do this, because sure it will cancel your subscription but you see, they have already taken the $29.95 off your credit card for another 3 months. If you don't phone and talk to a customer service rep, you will not get reimbursed for this latest amount taken from your credit card.

To top things off, trying to stay calm while talking to this lady, I was shocked when she tried to tell me that I can "keep the subscription active and get 1 month free super pass".. Hello.. did you hear me, I do not want REAL PLAYER anymore. I have uninstalled it from all of my computers (as this is also a source of spam/spyware). Why would I be phoning to get my money credited back to my credit card and then turn around and go for another 1 month free trial, only to end up getting charged when I don't go and choose to "unsubscribe" before the 1 month free trial is over?

Funny thing is, she says in closing "this will not happen again next year".. boy I sure wish I recorded the message so that I could play it back for them next year! Yes, I will admit, I like the CBS Big Brother feed as I always find it interesting to watch other human beings locked in a cage for 3 months, to see how their mental stability slowly falls apart-very interesting psychology experiment, now if only CBS would get together with Microsoft and offer Windows Media Player as an alternative option from REAL Media!

Doing a quick search for other incidents of this, I came across another website where this fellow had a very bad experience with credit cards in general. It is worth the read, especially if you are weary of giving out such information online.