Annoying subscription service fine print fixed by FTC

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Annoying subscription service fine print fixed by FTC

Passengers on the subway enjoy contents through their smartphones. [JOONGANG ILBO]

Passengers on the subway enjoy contents through their smartphones. [JOONGANG ILBO]

 
Fine print in subscription service agreements is a recent target of the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), as the regulator endeavors to keep consumers from getting stuck buying products they no longer want.
 
The antitrust watchdog announced Sunday it requested four of the largest local e-book providers — Millie, Kyobo Book, Yes24 and Ridibooks — to fix unfair terms and conditions in their membership contracts.  
 
Kyobo was ordered to make eight corrections, Yes24 seven, Millie six and Ridibooks five.  
 
Starting from September, membership fees will be fully refundable for seven days after e-book service sign up. After the first seven days, customers can receive 90 percent back.
 
Previously, customers had to wait to finish the memberships, which normally locked them in for months. Some platforms could refuse requests from customers.
 
The FTC also requested the four companies correct refund policies that discriminate against users who sign up through alternative payment methods. Ridibooks and Kyobo Book will delete the line from their contracts that allowed them to reject refunds for payments made through Naver Pay, cash vouchers and international payment methods.  
 
Refunds will be made through the same payment method used by the customer. In situations where that is not possible, e-book providers must notify the customer immediately and refund their membership fee through cash or deposits.  
 
The FTC has its sights aimed at other services.
 
Chairperson Joh Sung-wook said last month at the national assembly that the antitrust regulator will correct unfair subscription terms of video streaming platforms by the end of this year.  
 
The FTC also plans to look into unfair practices of alternative transportation methods next month, especially focusing on electric scooter sharing services.
 
“The FTC will continue to check unfair terms and conditions in subscription services and the sharing economy and will make efforts to promote consumer rights in contactless transactions," said Lee Tae-hwi, an FTC official.
 
BY KANG JAE-EUN   [kang.jaeeun@joongang.co.kr]

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