William & Mary Business Law Review


Carter McCants


The subscription-based economy is on the rise, and so are complaints of difficult cancellations. Companies utilize coercive and exploitative techniques, known as “dark patterns,” to trap consumers in subscription-based services. One notorious “dark pattern” is the “click-to-subscribe, call-to-cancel” scheme, whereby individuals can sign up online. But, when it comes time to cancel, many consumers often find themselves waiting on hold for hours.

In the interest of consumer welfare, subscription-based services should be as easy to cancel as they are to sign up for. Accordingly, this Note discusses the merits of recent crackdowns on cancellation barriers, including the Federal Trade Commission’s October 2021 policy enforcement statement. Ultimately, this Note advocates for increased federal and state regulation to protect consumers from harmful cancellation barriers.