10 October 2012
Boingo is a roaming wifi service in the US (and beyond); you sign up, they charge your credit card each month for $9.99, and you can access their broad network of wifi providers within a given geographic region.
On my last trip to the US, I signed up for Boingo at the New York airport, and used it once or twice during my stay in Atlanta. My intention was to use it for the single month containing my two-week trip.
When I returned to Europe a few weeks later, I tried to cancel my Boingo subscription, and that’s when the fun (not) started.
I emailed [email protected], and received an HTML email response acknowledging my request, and trying to offer me a 50% discount for three months to stay. That offer was followed by some text saying, “If you still want to cancel, click this link.”
Clicking that link lead to a page requesting my name, email address and Boingo username. Completing and submitting the form lead to a “Thank you” confirmation screen, containing a note saying I’d receive an email confirmation at the end of the current billing cycle.
I immediately suspected that I was going to continue to be charged. Why? Most decent services would immediately send you an email confirming your cancellation. By waiting until the next billing cycle, there’s a chance I may have forgotten my cancellation, and not notice the $9.99 charge amongst all my other credit card charges.
And that’s exactly what happened. I got busy and didn’t reconcile my credit card statement for two months.
So today, three months later, I notice the Boingo charge on my August statement. I call their customer support to complain, and they claim there’s no evidence that I ever cancelled my subscription.
Of course! Now it all makes sense — if they don’t immediately send you a confirmation email, the only evidence you could have is perhaps a screenshot of the web page confirmation.
While on the phone with the customer support agent, I went through the cancellation form again and confirmed what I suspected — that the “Thank you” screen doesn’t have any identifying information; so even a screenshot wouldn’t be evidence.
The agent offered to cancel my account, starting next month. I got quite angry, and insisted that I cancelled three months ago. She again repeated, “What evidence do you have of that?”
I walked her through the cancellation process while on the phone, and then asked her to tell me what evidence I could have collected?
At that point, she put me on hold to contact someone in Level-2 support. After some time, she returned saying they would refund the past three months.
This kind of behavior makes me so angry — it appears to be a process designed to systematically result in overcharging customers past their cancellation date. I will never use their service again. Hopefully others considering the use of their service will find this blog first.