Do I really have to pay for this QR code generator?

By | November 7th, 2016

Does Andrea King really have to pay for another year of her QR code generator? Let’s find out.

No, this isn’t another story about the merits of reading the fine print, although it could be. It certainly isn’t about QR codes or QR code generators (a QR code is a machine-readable code used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone), but it could be, too.

Instead, it’s a post about monitoring your credit card statement obsessively, which I am guilty of not doing. And it has a happy ending.

King signed up for an $80-a-year, pro-level account for QR-Code-Generator. At that level, you can add tracking codes and do a lot of other cool things. If I were running a small business, I might spring for it.

“I signed up for a yearly service,” says King. “In the contract, it states it will automatically renew every year, after a 30-day reminder from the company. I haven’t used the service in the year since I signed up and forgot to cancel the automatic renewal.”

The company refuses to cancel the charge, even after she pointed out that they neglected to send her the reminder 30 days before the renewal.

So could we get the company to drop its bill?

QR’s terms and conditions are silent on the auto-renew, so it must be part of the contract. An FAQ section on its site verifies King’s story, although it doesn’t back up the part about the notification. In other words, QR may, or may not, be obligated to let you know when you’re about to pay another $80 for your service.

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Our advocacy team reached out to QR to find out if something might have gone wrong. Its response: “The invoice still has to be paid.”

We scrolled through the paper trail to see any evidence of a notification. There was none. Just email after email, asking to be paid.

I apologize for the misunderstanding regarding the automatic renewal of your contract.

As stated in our Terms and Conditions, contracts necessarily need to be cancelled at least 30 days before the automatic renewal comes into effect. An informal email including your customer ID would have been absolutely sufficient for that.

Unfortunately, we cannot accept late cancellations in general. I am sorry about that. Therefore, the current invoice still needs to be paid.

However, I have just cancelled your contract so that it does not get renewed once again and ends on March 9, 2017.

We would like to thank you for your trust and cooperation and wish you the best possible success with your QR Codes.

Just a friendly reminder, folks. When you sign up for an auto-renew product, don’t rely on the company to notify you. Set a notification in your favorite calendar system so that you won’t get caught off guard.

Interestingly, King’s credit card on file expired before QR could charge it. That meant it automatically set her preference to pay by wire transfer. Even though she hasn’t used the service in months, the company is insisting she pay for another year. Its emails are getting increasingly desperate. In its last notification, it demanded she pay up within five days.

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But here’s your happy ending: After we contacted the company, it apparently had second thoughts, and dropped its efforts to collect the money. It also credited her for two months of unused service.

What should have happened to Andrea King?

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  • Mario

    Nice to see a resolution but I wonder how the company could ever hope to collect payment in the first place? If they have no payment on file, it up to the person to pay. I guess they could try to take them to small claims but doubtful given the amount and likely different locations.

  • taxed2themax

    If I were a business in that kind of case – a documented non-paying customer – I think that a collection agency might be one possible avenue. Granted, as the business, I’d get far less than the whole amount due, but I think from an efficiency point of view, I think this might be an avenue I’d explore.

  • taxed2themax

    I am of mixed feelings here. On one hand, I can see a plus for the consumer as auto-renew takes away the need — or consumer obligation to remember — from the equation.. but it’s this same issue, removing the consumers’ obligation to remember, that also becomes the risk.. I think if a consumer is reasonably satisfied that s/he will need/want/use the service in a years time (assuming this is the auto-renew period) then I think there’s nothing overtly wrong with doing so.. but.. I think that in the end, the onus is on the consumer to recognize that they have effectively made their next years purchasing decision now – and IF they want to revoke that, then there’s a window of time in which that must occur.

  • RightNow9435

    Would never sign up for auto-renew on anything. That way, when the original agreement is about to expire, I know I will get some communication from the company about renewal, and if there is a snafu, I won’t be automatically re-upped against my will.

  • PsyGuy

    What was the case here? They couldn’t charge her credit card and sent her an invoice. Tell them to kick rocks, and mark their emails as spam/junk.

  • PsyGuy

    As soon as I sign up for a program that uses auto renew I cancel, so that I don’t have to remember or not. If I like the service or product I can always enroll or make another purchase.

  • Fishplate

    I got an antivirus product as part of a computer purchase. It included a rebate of more than the cost of the software, but I had to not cancel the automatic renewal for ten months.

    I never figured out how the ten month stipulation would work after I cashed my rebate check, but I followed the rules, and put a recurring reminder in my Google calendar. Last month, I went online and canceled the renewal, and was done with it. No problem from anyone, and I have a confirmation letter that it was cancelled, and a screenshot.

    Bring it on, endlessly annoying anti-virus company!

  • Altosk

    I tried this site once. It is full of scams. I’m not shocked they wouldn’t notify someone who paid for their garbage codes (that you can get FREE elsewhere). It’s all a scam. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

  • cscasi

    A plausible thought. And, failure to pay could result it going on her credit record. in this case, that could put a real bite on her.

  • Pegtoo

    Just did this with our dental plan renewal. I rely heavily on my calendar for things like this, and include all the details in the notes section… referring to original email receipt dates, hotel reservation confirmation numbers, or whatever info I need when it comes up months (or a year) later.

  • The Original Joe S

    Credit card expired, and they still wanted money? Ha -ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! AMF! [ Adios, My Friend! ]

  • The Original Joe S

    good move

  • The Original Joe S

    how about sand?

  • just me

    @Mario @taxed2themax @cscasi:disqus
    a plausible thought: how about not using gotcha auto-renewal like that and even if you use auto-renewal how about having an open policy of reliable cancellation without cost when the customer cancels after renewal, and eventually charging only for prorated service actually use.
    The companies should never have any right to a payment for services not provided – this is the problem.
    Go into business to provide services. If your business plan is to harvest money and hope nobody will use the service – go somewhere else.

  • Tricia K

    I’ve now been charged by two separate online companies for automatic renewal that neither my my husband nor myself realized we agreed to. The first was for an online help service, Just Answer that my husband thought he had signed on for a one time answer and it wasn’t until it showed up on our credit card bill for the second month that I started questioning it. The other Ancestry.com, just happened today and I haven’t had the chance to look into it further. I didn’t sign up for it on a monthly basis because it is so easy to forget about it and end up spending more money than planned. What I do know is that I signed on for a six month contract and that the credit card that I used to pay for it had expired in the meantime. I think it’s time these companies have you actively opt in for automatic renewals rather than bury it in the fine print.

  • Tricia K

    And what if you didn’t intentionally sign up for auto renewal but something hidden in their terms and conditions signed you up for it?

  • PsyGuy

    Rocks hurt more.

  • PsyGuy

    I routinely cancel my CC and bank cards every 6 months and request new cards with new numbers (I lost my wallet again, poor me, I’m so sorry).

    The other option is to use a debit card that’s not connected directly to an account, and transfer money into the account only as you’re about to spend it. For example, you get something like the Chase Liquid card, which is essentially a reloadable prepaid debit card that you can manage with online banking. You keep the balance at somewhere between $0 and $1. As your auto renew time arrives it will fail (not enough funds) the business will then contact you saying the payment failed. You can then decide whether to contact the company and cancel, or transfer funds from another account and allow the transaction to be processed.
    Companies are really good about communication when it comes to getting money they would not otherwise get, but tend to be much more lax on money that they are expecting, and hope you don’t notice until they already have it.

  • The Original Joe S

    but sand sticks better to the cosmoline coating!

  • PsyGuy

    but rocks hurt more. I prefer suffering to inconvenience for my adversaries.

  • taxed2themax

    “how about not using gotcha auto-renewal like that and even if you use
    auto-renewal how about having an open policy of reliable cancellation
    without cost when the customer cancels after renewal, and eventually
    charging only for prorated service actually use.”

    how about taking on the onus of remembering what you agreed to? Look, I can see both sides.. I think there are some cases and people who are just not set up for this kind of billing scenario.. that’s true.. but that alone to me does not make the option a pure evil or a gotcha as you’ve framed it. I think if you choose to engage a business or billing scenario where auto-rebill is practiced, then I think you need to decide if you’re willing to take that on. For some, they can and chose to do so — and manage it via thing like google calendar etc.. For others, they may decide that they don’t want that, and would prefer a more traditional situation.

    As far as charging for only services used — I agree… but.. if you (the consumer) agree to a contract that provides for something like auto-rebill, and for whatever reason, don’t cancel as prescribed, THEN want to pay only for the fraction that you used – that I can’t support.

    Do I use auto-rebill? I do.. but I do so sparingly, agree that the onus to cancel within the prescribed time frame is mine and that I have to keep track of that time..but when I do choose to enter into an auto-rebill scenario, I do so only when I am confident in my continued use and can see an economic advantage in doing so. (some businesses offer a % off for those who agree to auto-rebill)

  • just me

    I guess I have not explained clearly enough. The “negative option” a.k.a. as “gotcha” renewal is most dishonest in cases of subscription to things that are not being used and factually nothing is provided to the consumer in return for the money taken from the consumer.
    Existence of the holly grail “contract” that by its terms provides nothing unless it is actively used is a non-contract. The most classical definition of contract illuminates that. And than having automatic renewal of such non-contract contract is simple robbery. If the company does not actually provide anything – they should not be allowed to take money for that.

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