A consumer trap?Zhihu salt selected to quietly renew the fee annoyed users, the regulation: do not reply as consent
The automatic deduction of fees was originally a convenient user service function, now how to change the taste?”I closed my Zhihu account in November last year, but yesterday (March 10, 2022) I found out that my yanxuanyuan membership, which had been automatically renewed before, was still being deducted.” “I cancelled the automatic renewal last year, but Zhihu still deducted my annual fee this year”…Such complaints have been heard on Sina Weibo, China’s twitter-like microblogging platform.As one of the means for Internet companies to attract retention and ensure revenue, membership payment has become the most important business model at present.According to the 2021 financial report released by Zhihu on March 14, the revenue of Yanxuan members (paid members) increased by 108.6% year-on-year, from 320 million yuan in 2020 to 669 million yuan in 2021, contributing more than 20% of the revenue, and becoming the third largest revenue source after advertising revenue and commercial content solutions revenue.Most users now have the experience of being “automatically renewed”, which is a common practice on Internet platforms.On November 23, 2021, Shanghai Consumer Protection Commission released a supervision investigation on the automatic renewal and withholding period of 12 apps. Zhihu and Kuwushi are about to expire, while Ximalaya and Dragonfly are 24 hours before the expiration date.On January 29, 2022, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the State Administration for Market Regulation published and drafted the “Requirements for Automatic Renewal service of Information Security Technology Internet Platforms”, which clearly stated that Internet platforms should inform users before each automatic renewal and obtain their express consent;If no express consent is obtained, the automatic renewal service shall be terminated and no fees shall be deducted.On March 14, Zhihu told Times weekly that users have a strict subscription process for its payment service, and zhihu provides users with both continuous subscription and non-continuous subscription options.As for reminding consumers of automatic renewal, Zhihu said, “We will send a private reminder five days before the renewal of a continuous subscription service.”However, in the platform private message reminder, seems to be not enough effect.A consumer says to the reporter, she has a video platform, tencent, youku, mango, iQIYI, B standing member, member of the music platform QQ music, as well as knowledge payment platform zhihu salt selected members, all of the platform are automatic renewal, WeChat suddenly popped out each month fee information, but the page does not display what are project fee, “I’m really too lazy to point each platform view,It’s annoying to see which platform is withholding the money. Last week, I cancelled all the membership renewals.”A reporter from Times Weekly searched “Zhihu” on the official website of Black Cat complaints, and consumers filed more than 2,000 complaints against Zhihu, among which the complaints in the past month all revolved around issues such as “being automatically renewed” and “being opened without knowing”.Beijing Hui scale (Shanghai) law firm partner, bow Qin Yi on time weekly reporters that about some problems in automatic renewal “platform”, whether it is “consumer rights and interests protects a law” the electronic commerce act, or the information security technology of the Internet platform automatic renewal service requirements, there are strict requirements and specifications, not “could not be in accordance with the”.On February 6, 2022, the consumer “Ren Zhimin – Sanmao” received an automatic deduction bill from Zhihu, which showed that the deduction fee was 198 yuan only.This made him extremely puzzled, on the morning of February 16, he complained on the Black Cat complaint platform, “there is no open yanxian membership automatic renewal, no advance notice, direct Alipay deduction, refund!”Until 5 days later, Zhihu officially gave a continuous deduction fee and specific cancellation path description.Its complaint number: 17357559958, the current complaint is not completed.These consumers are not alone.On another pending complaint page titled “17357494795” on the Black Cat complaint platform, a customer named “user 7734809779” claimed that he was maliciously guided by merchants and was able to turn off the automatic fee deduction on the Zhihu APP.He had already turned off the automatic renewal function on zhihu, but the fee was still deducted every month on Alipay.During this period, Zhihu did not send him any text messages, and he did not always log on Zhihu, so he was not aware of the deduction.On March 5, the netizen filed a complaint on the black Cat complaint platform, and on the morning of March 7, she received an official reply from Zhihu similar to that of the consumer “Ren Zhimin – Sanmao”.Similar posts have been posted by consumers not only on the Black Cat complaint platform, but also on Sina Weibo, Xiaohongshu and even Zhihu.How about the handling of the above complaints?What are the specific processes?Zhihu did not reply to times Weekly’s interview.However, Zhihu also informed the reporter that the unsubscription process and communication channels of users: the unsubscription guidance is provided in the product page (help center), and users are required to unsubscribe through third-party channels (Alipay, wechat, Apple, etc.) for payment.For some users to consult and complain, it has specially opened up a customer service account zhihu Xiaohousekeeper and other customer service channels.However, for the existing various Internet platforms, before deducting fees effectively remind users, this is technically difficult?A senior technical staff to times weekly reporter said, now the mainstream application is to get user authorization, generally will default check box.The reason is not the system handling trouble, but the desire to increase renewal rates.If customers take the initiative to check authorization, they will certainly lose a lot. This form is similar to the default accident insurance when buying air tickets on online travel platform App in the past.Compulsory consumption for cash?”Automatic renewal” is not a new problem, and Zhihu is not alone.A search for “automatic renewal” on the Black Cat complaint platform alone generated nearly 72,000 complaints about alipay, Penguin Super VIDEO VIP, Baidu Webdisk, Light appearance level camera, Tantan, Cool Dog Music and many other platforms.From the members of the video platform that provides differentiated scheduling, to the members of the music platform that pays for copyright, to the members of the content platform that pays for social interaction and knowledge, we all provide differentiated content services for users, and further obtain commercial realization.The Online Transaction Supervision and Administration Measures, which will take effect on May 1, 2021, clearly stipulates that consumers must be informed in advance of the expiration of automatic renewal, and consumers who refuse to renew cannot regard rejection or non-reply as consent.If there is now a forced automatic renewal of the situation, suspected of illegal.As for why automatic renewal has become a common practice in the industry and cannot be avoided, Cao Sheng, founder of Grayscale Cognition Society, told Times weekly that “payment system is essentially a minority behavior.Because China as a whole is not that willing to pay for knowledge and services.Because of the lack of frequency.”So the churn rate is so high that by default the store will have a continuous monthly package and swipe left to see the season, year and last month.”Xu Hao, a lawyer from Beijing Jingshi Law Firm, told Time weekly that consumers’ right to know is violated if they are automatically renewed without their knowledge.According to the provisions of the Law on the Protection of Consumer rights and Interests, merchants should do their duty to explain and prompt the standard terms, otherwise consumers can claim that the terms are invalid.In addition, consumers can also claim consumer fraud and demand a three-for-one refund.There is a standard notification process for users’ payment, and there is no case of deduction of fees without users’ knowledge.Once the refund requirements are met, Zhihu will refund in accordance with relevant national regulations and prevailing market practices.”But at present, many platform entities still take the principle of maximizing their own interests as the principle, ignoring or ignoring the explicit requirements of laws and regulations.This situation requires the regulatory authorities to step up law enforcement, truly implement the corresponding standards, for the subject of violation of practical punishment measures, to achieve ‘strict law enforcement’.”Ju Qinyi said, at the same time, but also to remind the majority of users, consumers in daily life and work, to improve the ability to distinguish and self-protection awareness, not because of their own rights and interests of the “tiny” and dismissive.