Save my money, please.

Why reccuring online payments are broken.

Vlad Arbatov
May 10, 2015 · 3 min read
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

For a business, it is actually a good form to notify a customer that he’s about to be billed soon. To ask him once or even twice before withdrawing money from the account. Confirmation is essential. But recurring subscriptions are completely out of place.

One sunny day not long ago I was billed for a yearly Zendesk service subscription. And that would be totally OK if I was still using this product. We had tried it for a month and quit, and I forgot to cancel the account. Almost a year later, an SMS arrived informing me that my bank account was charged. To say that I was frustrated is to say nothing.

That’s how Saverize was born.

Saverize.com beta interface

Strangely enough, only a few companies on the market care to announce the upcoming recurring payments. And in my view, those are the industry leaders, namely Apple, Microsoft, and a few others. I receive emails from Microsoft regarding my Office 360 subscription and from Apple about iCloud Drive. They warn me and give me time to cancel if needed. Others just send me invoices.

Strangely enough, only a few companies on the market care to announce the upcoming recurring payments

Recurring payment are made to simplify your life and make it more comfortable. Several clicks and you can forget about entering your payment information and confirming payment, and enjoy a product for the rest of your life.

You can forget. (And you most certainly will if you don’t write down your signups in a notebook and you’re not an artificial intelligence.) Until they charge you again.

Another related issue is product trials. “You can cancel anytime during this month but just give us your credit card information for now.” Yeah, why not?!..

The next day, you close the tab with The Product in your browser, and a month later you get a receipt. How? You just got distracted (cause that’s how our life goes) and forgot to cancel (cause you’re presumably a human, not an AI). And product owners didn’t care to warn you (cause it’s a business, baby).

The common process in an ideal world would look like this:

— a person signs up for a service (or product) with a (monthly / yearly) subscription model;

— that person tries the service and at some point decides to cancel;

— that person signs in to the service and cancels the account and billing.

In many practical cases, the truth is different though:

— a person signs up for a service (or product) with a (monthly / yearly) subscription model;

— that person tries the service and gradually stops using it due to any possible reason (lack of features, complicated UX, better alternative or whatever);

— that person forgets about the service and cancels only after an automated payment is made and his or her bank account is charged.

This stuff seems to happen to people who extensively use online services on a regular basis. People like myself, who oftenly browse Product Hunt, Betalist, Maqtoob, Pencil Case, and so on. This may not be you. You may even completely miss the point of what I’m talking about here.

But is it really so hard for a business to remind us about an upcoming payment and allow a user to decide if he is still in need of the service? Will receiving an announcement email break the simplicity and core values of automated charges?

The answer is obvious.

The whole problem is to be solved this summer as Saverize hits public beta. I personally hope this will help a lot of people to save money and avoid frustration. The system is broken; let’s fix it.

Vlad Arbatov

Personal blog of arb.digital founder :: https://arbatov.me

Vlad Arbatov

Written by

Founder @ arb.digital :: AI expert. https://arbatov.me

Vlad Arbatov

Personal blog of arb.digital founder :: https://arbatov.me