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12 Subscription Pet Peeves That Are Turning Consumers Off in 2020

SmarterCX Team
March 09, 2020

5 minute read

According to a West Monroe study, 84% of consumers underestimate what they spend on subscription services each month. High subscription services costs can bring on some strong opinions, especially when consumers feel frustrated by the tedious process one may experience canceling the subscription.

We asked CX professionals about their biggest annoyances and pet peeves when it comes to products or services they subscribe to, and here are 12 they listed.

Pet Peeve #1: Receiving daily emails

“In a busy world, it is increasingly difficult to stay on top of emails. If I receive one every day from every different subscription, I end up marking them all as read. I think weekly emails are easier to maintain. Some sites seem to be offering a monthly round-up.”

– Joe Flanagan, Fitness App Developer at GetSongbpm

Pet Peeve #2: No automated way to unsubscribe

“I recently had an experience with a company that made it so hard to unsubscribe – it was almost impressive. Following a one-off Black Friday deal, this company signs you up to a subscription for more products every month. To unsubscribe, you have to call or email them. Calling is already tricky thanks to limited opening hours and lack of pick-ups. Email? No response. It took my third email threatening to post on social media that got me a near-instant cancellation of subscription. The funny thing is, their product was actually decent!”

– Craig Anderson, Owner, Appliance Analysts

Pet Peeve #3: Subscription upsells

“In my opinion, the point of subscribing to a service is to make the customer experience more seamless and consistent. So when companies insist on stuffing their subscription boxes with additional sales leaflets intended to try and get me to buy more from them, I often feel a bit frustrated. I’ve already committed to buying from your company on a recurring basis, please don’t try to get me to buy even more! It puts me off more than anything. Just keep me happy and make sure that the subscription box is stuffed with value, not upsells.”

– Sam Williamson, Owner of CBDiablo

Pet Peeve #4: Tricks to prevent you from unsubscribing

“The only thing I really detest with subscriptions is when I go to unsubscribe, and I’m sent to a page where I have to provide the email address I used to subscribe. It could be any of 3 or 4 email addresses that I use, and I often get it wrong. This drives me mad, partly because it’s so obviously a trick to prevent you from unsubscribing.”

– Rob Powell, CEO and Founder, Rob Powell Biz Blog

Pet Peeve #5: Not-so-free trials

“Companies that offer a free trial for a subscription but requires credit card information, why? You said it’s free! Just kidding, they use the free trial bait and automatically deduct subscription fee after the trial ends without the user knowing it. Actually it’s in the user agreement, so take time to read it when planning to subscribe to any subscriptions.”

– Kenny Trinh, Managing Editor, Netbooknews

Pet Peeve #6: Spammy emails

“The most annoying subscription pet peeves for me would have to be spammy emails. Hear me out — you’ve subscribed to an interesting email newsletter only to be bombarded by spam. It’s really annoying and it should count as false advertising. And most importantly, it makes you lose fate in subscribing to other newsletters!”

– Anh Trinh, Managing Editor, GeekWithLaptop

Pet Peeve #7: Hurdles to unsubscribe

“As a CX professional, it irks me to no end when companies make it almost impossible to unsubscribe or cancel. They make the user go through 4 click funnel-type exercises to get to the unsubscribe page, require a phone call to HQ to cancel, or my favorite, refuse to cancel without a letter requesting cancellation which has to be sent certified mail. Yes, that requirement actually exists.”

– Lauren Faby, Founder, LF Communications Consulting

Pet Peeve #8: Involuntarily a subscriber

“My biggest subscription pet peeve is when the company decides on my behalf that I’m now a subscriber, even though my initial outreach was just a specific question for customer service. I end up spending more time hitting unsubscribe from the 4 different email drips they’ve now put me in, rather than having a positive interaction with them.”

– Hilary Bird, Marketing Manager, Render Pilots

Pet Peeve #9: Full year subscription vs monthly

“I hate when a subscription service requires purchasing a full year subscription. There should always be a monthly subscription offer, even if it costs more over the course of a year than the yearly option.”

– Brendan Hal, Content Creator & Electrical Engineer, TakeFunnels

Pet Peeve #10: Calling required to cancel

“My biggest subscription pet peeve is companies that make you call in to cancel a subscription as opposed to being able to cancel it automatically online. I think that is a force-tactic that does not sit well with most customers, and even causes bad press and bad reviews for the company even if it helps them gain a few extra dollars in sales from people who wanted to cancel but were unable to.”

– Stacy Caprio, Founder, Growth Marketing

Pet Peeve #11: Price incentives when canceling

“I hate it when your monthly rate increases so much that you decide to cancel your subscription, but when you call to cancel, they offer you a huge discount. If you cared about me that much as a customer, why didn’t you offer me your best rate to begin with?”

– Melanie Musson, Insurance Specialist, USInsuranceAgents.com

Pet Peeve #12: Hidden newsletters

“Sometimes subscribing to a service brings along hidden ‘bonuses’ – such as an additional newsletter hiding in the fine print. As someone who works in marketing, I don’t mind getting emails, but I prefer to get them with my consent. It’s very annoying having to unsubscribe from something you didn’t subscribe to.”

– Snezhina Piskova, Digital Creator, Independent Fashion Bloggers

Interested in more pet peeves and CX mistakes to avoid this year? Here are more articles for you:

SmarterCX Team
The SmarterCX team is comprised of subject matter experts, writers, artists, designers, and CX professionals who are dedicated to building a smarter customer experience.
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