Friday, March 25, 2011

Making it hard to cancel - a great way to really annoy departing customers

Some online services make it easy to cancel the service online.  Others put roadblocks in the way, hoping to be able to convince you to stay.   What they can end up doing instead is encourage customers who just don't need the service any more to warn others to stay away.

An example is

Back in the fall, I needed urgently to receive a fax, so I signed up with  I figured I'd see whether it turned out to be useful to have a number to receive faxes.

After the one fax I needed, I didn't use it again.  The only other faxes I received were junk faxes.  And eFax makes it very difficult to report these.  Instead of just being able to forward them to an email, you need to go online to fill out a form.  So I sent them an email and asked to cancel my account

Sent: 3/2/2011 9:58 PM
Please cancel my account.  Refund to my credit card please unused portion of
this month.


In return, I got this email telling me that I would have to call in and speak to a live operator (surely, after waiting on hold for ten minutes and having to authenticate myself.):

Dear Will,

We have received your email request to cancel your account.

Please note that cancellation requests may be processed 24/7 by calling (323) 817-3205.  You may also visit visit us online at (Monday - Friday, 6am-6pm Pacific Time) and an online representative will assist with your cancellation request.

Please note that your account will remain active until your cancellation request is confirmed by Customer Support.

In the meantime, you may wish to download and save any faxes stored in your eFax Message Center by following these simple steps:

1. Log into your eFax account at
2. Click on the 'eFax Message Center' link.
3. Open the fax by clicking on the file name in the lower part of the screen and click on the 'Download' button to save the fax to your computer.

Cedric W.

eFax Customer Support
I didn't really want to make the call, so I thought I'd see if I really could do it by email:

Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 8:47 PM  
I'd prefer if I didn't have to call to cancel.  

Could you please just consider this email my official request to cancel my account, and go ahead and proceed with the cancellation?
After another follow-up and a wait of one week, I was surprised that the email worked.  Got this response 10 days later, on March 16, fully two weeks after my initial request.  eFax could have saved themselves the cost of tracking this request and several emails by the customer service rep by just allowing me to do the transaction online.

Dear William,

Thank you for contacting eFax Customer Support.

Per your request, your account has been cancelled. Billing for your eFax number will cease immediately.
Except for the junk faxes, the service was reliable enough.  But if I need to get a fax number in the future, I'll look for a different option.

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