Bit of a rant here, but I am currently subscribed to a game development related Patreon because I wanted to follow the development of a project that was interesting to me. The reason I covered the name is that the developer is doing a fantastic job with the project, posting regularly and providing interesting and informative posts, but the main advantage of Patreon is simply that he also provides builds which I was interested in checking out.

Patreon rebilled at the beginning of the month and I thought “Fine I guess, but I don’t really want to pay $6 a month to get test builds of this game” and tried to cancel, assuming it would simply not rebill next month, but instead of cancelling rebilling, Patreon says I will immediately lose access to everything I can currently see on Patreon and new posts for this month, even though it billed me for this month literally three days ago.

There is no technical reason they can’t just cancel rebilling and allow me to access this subscription until the end of the month, but they are clearly hoping I’ll be scared to lose access to what I’ve paid for and will forget about cancelling later in the month, which would be the better time to do it, since I would benefit from access to more posts and development builds. There are a few other subscriptions I’ve used in the past that remove access to everything the instant you cancel, but even Amazon lets me continue free trials of Prime until the end of the trial period when I cancel it.

There are presumably no laws against this, or it was mentioned in some legal bullshit I ignored when signing up, but I do think that there should be a law that forces providers of subscription services to allow users to access their subscription for the entire period for which they have paid, regardless of whether they cancel their subscription if no refund is due.

  • zigmus64@lemmy.world
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    9 months ago

    Have you thought of not canceling but simply removing your payment method?

  • Echo Dot@feddit.uk
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    9 months ago

    Pretty sure that is illegal at least in Europe.

    Essentially the subscription is you and the business entering into a contractual relationship. The deal is you pay X amount of money and in exchange you get access to a particular service for a particular period of time. Is they are going to bill you in advance that’s their problem, but they still have to provide you access to the service for that period of time since you’ve already paid, or they have to refund you.

    It’s like with phone contracts vs just buying a prepaid phone. When you’re on contract you literally have an actual contract to pay off the value of the phone that’s why you get to keep it at the end and that’s why you’re not allowed to just end the contract early because otherwise it would be a cheap way of getting a phone. But you can end a prepaid contract whenever you want because the phone is literally already paid for that’s the prepaid bit - they also tend to include some minutes which confuses things, but what you’re actually paying for is the phone.

    • SkepticalButOpenMinded
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      9 months ago

      “If you cancel” implies that the “immediately” refers to the act of canceling. If your interpretation is right, it feels more like downright lying.

    • RBG@discuss.tchncs.de
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      9 months ago

      Which would be good but you will only realise if thats the case or not when it is too late.

    • catboss@feddit.de
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      9 months ago

      Some companies like amazon intentionally do this for the exact reason to scare people and hope they forget to cancel.

      Subscriptions as a system are fine, why and how you implement them tells you a lot about the company you are dealing with.

      BUT: As mentioned in other posts, it might just be a technical issue due to bad software design/choice OR it might be a setting you can pick as the owner of the patreon, because for some types of patreons it would make a difference if it ends immediately or at the end of the period OR bad wording. Not pitchfork time quite yet.

      Please keep us updated, OP.

    • RickRussell_CA@kbin.social
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      9 months ago

      I sign up for Patreons, watch/pay for them for awhile, and cancel several times a year.

      In all cases so far, membership benefits have persisted until the end of the billing period.

      Maybe the updated TOS language was to cover a future where that doesn’t happen, or it was written by somebody who doesn’t understand how the service actually works.

  • fistac0rpse@kbin.social
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    9 months ago

    I’m in Australia and just went to cancel a patreon subscription and it said that I will lose access to all benefits at the start of the next month, Dec 1st. US only thing maybe?

    • Matriks404@lemmy.world
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      9 months ago

      I live in EU and few years back (3 or 4?) I canceled Patreon subscription and lost all benefits immediately, and I am pretty sure it was illegal even back then. Not sure how it works now though.

    • MrFlamey@lemmy.worldOP
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      9 months ago

      Interesting. I’ll have to ask someone about it. To be honest I just reacted with a rant immediately without reading the terms. I should check the terms next time.

  • 𝒍𝒆𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒏@lemmy.one
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    9 months ago

    If I’m not mistaken, this is a setting that only the patreon user you’re subscribed to can change: whether you’re billed in advance, or billed retrospectively.

    One lets you cancel and keep your benefits for the rest of the month, the other will immediately terminate your subscription upon cancellation.

    Their terms describes both of these IIRC?

    • catboss@feddit.de
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      9 months ago

      And this setup would make sense with other types of patreons.

      If that is true I’d point your issue out to the dev you support in privat and ask them if they think it is needed, since it only seems to inconvenience his supporters, might make them angry at patreon and him and can’t help the dev if they think he does it just to annoy them.

      I didn’t know this either till today, thanks.

  • charles@lemmy.world
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    9 months ago

    I thought patreon subs were post-billed, meaning your payment is for last months usage. Check your settings to confirm.

    • PM_Your_Nudes_Please@lemmy.world
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      9 months ago

      That would only make sense if you were able to get a month of access without paying. Because they charge you upfront before allowing access, they can’t really argue that it is post-billed.

      • charles@lemmy.world
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        9 months ago

        I think you get a minimum bill immediately, then end of the month will settle up for any extra posts (on a per-post sub).

    • Chozo@kbin.social
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      9 months ago

      This is a bad idea. Chargebacks are only meant to be used in cases of fraud, which isn’t the case for OP, who simply wanted to discontinue his subscription.

      You also will usually get auto-banned from any platform you issue a chargeback against, because in issuing a chargeback, you’re making the claim that your payment was unauthorized, so the assumption is that your account is compromised somehow. So your account will get banned as a preventative measure to prevent further unauthorized access.

      It’s meant to be a last resort option, not a first choice.

      EDIT: Glad to see that LemmyWorlders never left their Redditor mindsets behind. Blows me away that, even on the Fediverse, people will downvote truths they don’t want to hear.

      • TCBloo@lemmy.world
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        9 months ago

        He’s not getting the product he paid for. That’s a legitimate chargeback.

        • Chozo@kbin.social
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          9 months ago

          He’s not getting the product because he’s cancelling the product. That’s not fraud, that’s just the consequence of cancelling a subscription.

          • axsyse@lemmy.sdf.org
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            If he’s already paid for the month, then he’s paid for the month. I’m not sure what part of that you’re finding complicated.

            If he’s cancelling, he’s choosing not to pay for any following months but as this month is already paid for, he should continue to get what he paid for for the remainder of the month.

            If cancelling means that he doesn’t get what he paid for this month, then yes, Patreon is essentially stealing his money by not giving him what they agreed to. The only fair solution to that would be if Patreon were to give him a partial refund pro-rated by how far into the month he is, but the wording of their “warning” doesn’t imply that whatsoever.

            • Chozo@kbin.social
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              If he’s already paid for the month, then he’s paid for the month. I’m not sure what part of that you’re finding complicated.

              Not all creators on Patreon work this way. And it seems like in this creator’s case, they do not allow you to ride out the remainder of your subscription after cancelling, and instead process a prorated refund for any remaining time, which, to my understanding, is how Patreon handles this sort of subscription cancellation.

              The only fair solution to that would be if Patreon were to give him a partial refund pro-rated by how far into the month he is, but the wording of their “warning” doesn’t imply that whatsoever.

              The wording also doesn’t imply that OP won’t get a prorated refund, either. We can’t see the full terms of the cancellation from OP’s screenshot. Without knowing who the creator is or what sort of subscription model they’re using on Patreon, there’s not much to really work with.

              • axsyse@lemmy.sdf.org
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                9 months ago

                Fair enough. I think that at the end of the day, the issue falls squarely on Patreon for lousy wording

      • Garbanzo@lemmy.world
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        9 months ago

        Chargebacks are only meant to be used in cases of fraud

        That’s simply not true. What are you doing giving advice when two minutes of Googling shows you don’t know what you’re talking about?

        • Chozo@kbin.social
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          No, they’re primarily for fraud, or faulty/damaged products; but we’re not talking about physical items here, we’re talking about a digital subscription. Chargebacks aren’t meant for “I don’t like the way you’re handling your service”, they’re for “I have been wronged in some way”. OP hasn’t been wronged, he just doesn’t like losing access to something he no longer wishes to pay for.

          There are chargeback codes that get used when filing these. For example, here’s Visa’s chargeback codes. Note that there isn’t a valid code for OP’s situation, because it’s not considered an appropriate reason for issuing a chargeback. You’re also required to make an effort to try to rectify the issue with the merchant directly first, which it does not appear that OP has attempted yet.

          Two minutes of Googling. Though the Googling was unnecessary, since I already had experience previously working at a bank and processed chargebacks regularly.

          • Garbanzo@lemmy.world
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            9 months ago

            he just doesn’t like losing access to something he no longer wishes to pay for.

            No, he doesn’t like losing access to something he did pay for. He paid for the month and any reasonable person would expect a prorated refund or to retain access for the time that’s been paid for.

            • Chozo@kbin.social
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              9 months ago

              any reasonable person would expect a prorated refund or to retain access for the time that’s been paid for.

              Which is literally what Patreon does, depending on the type of creator you’re subscribed to.

          • elvith@feddit.de
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            9 months ago

            13.7 Cancelled Merchandise/Services

            […]the customer misunderstood or was never clear on the return policy.

            That’s not to far off from “paying for a month of service, but receiving only two days”, don’t you think?

            • Chozo@kbin.social
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              9 months ago

              It’s hard to tell, because OP states that they did not want to reveal the name of the creator they’re subscribed to, so we don’t know the type of subscription they actually have. Creators on Patreon can set various subscription types, and not all of them are purely time-based. Some of them are on a per-update basis, in which case there isn’t a true “end of billing cycle” state, so cancelling the sub would just simply be an immediate cancellation.

              From the 13.7 details page:

              Reason code 13.7, however, specifically refers to non-processed credits that were due from a cancelled service (including subscription services) or returned merchandise.

              This can be the result of a merchant error. If a cardholder had a valid reason to request a credit, but didn’t receive one, then the merchant is liable for the chargeback. Of course, it’s also possible that this could be a case of friendly fraud.

              So if we assume that the creator is on a time-based subscription model, OP would be entitled to a prorated refund, which Patreon would automatically process upon cancellation, and OP could then feasibly issue a chargeback if Patreon fails to process that prorated refund. But if it’s a per-update model, then OP is not necessarily entitled to any refund at all, and a chargeback would be invalid, and thus fraudulent in and of itself.

              • elvith@feddit.de
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                9 months ago

                I only knew about the time-based subscription and have never encountered a per-update or other subscription. In this case, patreons text is more clear (at least why it is worded like this), but hard to tell, how they handle it.

                What I would expect:

                • Time-based - I get access until the end of my current billing cycle.

                • Per-Post - I might still get access to all posts, that I “bought”, but only those

                • Other types - depends

                • Chozo@kbin.social
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                  9 months ago

                  Judging from the wording in OP’s screenshot, they’d be getting a prorated refund since it seems like they don’t allow you to ride out the end of your time-based subscription and instead do an immediate cancellation. I believe that’s still largely up to the creator’s discretion, though.

                  EDIT: Misread the color code in Kbin, thought you were OP. Changed pronouns.

        • Chozo@kbin.social
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          9 months ago

          Right, because a double charge is considered unauthorized. That’s not OP’s situation.

          • SendMePhotos@lemmy.world
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            9 months ago

            Fair enough. I don’t know enough to understand all the details of what is or isn’t. From an inexperienced view, charge back is the way and not the way.

      • I’ve charged plenty of things back and never been banned. Pizza that never came, products they never delivered, subscription services that never provided value, still haven’t been banned. Maybe a US thing or at least YMMV. It’s not just unauthorised transactions, it’s also ones where you didn’t reciever the service you paid for or the company you paid refuses a refund.

  • IHeartBadCode@kbin.social
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    9 months ago

    There are presumably no laws against this

    For the United States, that is correct. It is up to each business to dictate how this works.

    it was mentioned in some legal bullshit I ignored when signing up

    Yes it was. Patreon’s Terms of Use

    You may cancel your free trial or recurring payments at any time, as described above. For monthly and annual memberships, canceling or lowering the tier support of your membership will impact your next recurring charge

    Canceling your membership or lowering the tier support below the applicable threshold may result in your loss of access to membership subscription benefits, including a creator’s patron-only posts and other benefits. You may also lose access to offerings you’ve purchased and membership subscription benefits

    There are two things being discussed here. The service and the payment. The first statement indicates that a change between you and Patreon on terms will affect the payment on the next cycle, so if you were billed monthly on the next month. But a change between you two will affect the service immediately.

    There is no technical reason they can’t just cancel rebilling and allow me to access this subscription until the end of the month

    There is a distinct possibility that they actually cannot do this because they’ve never asked their programming team to write such a thing in their payment processing. Can their programming team write such a thing? Oh absolutely. But if they’ve not actually written such a thing, then they cannot technically do it because it just simply does not exist. I written software for some time now, and this kind of technical, has actually happened to me where the dev team asked if such should be programmed and higher up indicated specifically that such SHOULD NOT be written for pretty much the reason that it thus prevents such from ever being a possibility to be offered to customers. So just FYI, their software might not be able to do this by purposeful omission of such. It would not be the first company to have done this.

    I think this kind of practice is shit. And the “free but if you don’t cancel becomes a monthly subscription” kind of stuff the FTC is looking to add to their list of dark business patterns. I won’t bore you with details but the FTC is pretty hit and miss with their regulations and Congress is constantly in a back and forth of giving it super charged powers and making it toothless. So companies that can, usually litigate the FTC until a new President or Congressional composition comes into play that will pull back the FTC.

    but I do think that there should be a law that forces providers of subscription services to allow users to access their subscription for the entire period for which they have paid, regardless of whether they cancel their subscription if no refund is due

    You know what’s really crazy is in other industries, things like pro-rated and payment terms must match service terms, all of that is required under law. I’m in an industry now that has such regulations and boy if the law didn’t require it, they sure as shit wouldn’t do it. There’s nothing stopping these same tried and tested laws from applying to online services, outside of lobbyist “asking” Congress and State Assemblies to not do such. So I agree with you there, this kind of pattern in online services is shit. But they are absolutely legally allowed to do this kind of bullshit.

    • JamesFire@lemmy.world
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      9 months ago

      Can their programming team write such a thing? Oh absolutely. But if they’ve not actually written such a thing, then they cannot technically do it because it just simply does not exist.

      Frankly, whether the code is written or not is irrelevant to whether or not Patreon could do it on a technical level. Not having the code written =/= it can’t be done, and saying it like this is just pointless pedantry. You knew what they meant.

  • yamanii@lemmy.world
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    9 months ago

    Yep, happened to me when accessing paid content of a podcast, can’t remember the platform since they switched, but I couldn’t remove the auto renewal without canceling, and canceling would forfeit my access right there.

  • SpaghettiYeti@lemmy.world
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    9 months ago

    Just want to point out that there’s no way for you to know there isn’t a technical reason they can’t achieve something.

    I’m running into a lot of that with Shopify. Lots of dumb things they should support that even app devs can’t do.

    For example, do you want to buy a membership but have a b2b account type? Nope. You as the customer don’t even know if you have that.

    Another example - do you want to sell someone a membership over the phone? Nope. Must do it on the website only. Seems like something that wouldn’t be true, but it is. Tech isn’t perfect and can be very expensive to customize.

    That said, sounds like you’ll be ok based on the comments here 😀

    • catboss@feddit.de
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      You are correct. It would explain the issue and I too know for a fact that this is a problem of the internet these days.

      It sounds counterintuitive, but website and shop sites also run on what are basically oligopolies or monopolies on the software side. Rarely someone builds a site from the ground up for all the reasons. At the same time it is a huge problem the software most sites run on is in the hands of relatively few (and one the rest of the internet has as well). Most people are just not aware of this.

      No idea who or why anyone would downvote you.

      • SpaghettiYeti@lemmy.world
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        They downvote because they don’t work in this world and don’t understand tech stack compatibilities and how these ecosystems like Shopify limit businesses more than anything.

        • catboss@feddit.de
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          Just for your information: I only dabble in tech as a hobby and am by all accounts an utter noob.

          But you can find these things out with a simple search in under a minute. That is the akward reality about you being downvoted. Not that a gazillion downvotes would matter on lemmy ever anyway.