Why Is It So Hard To Cancel Your EFax Account?

In Slate today, Timothy Noah describes his hour-long ordeal to cancel the eFax account he never uses anymore. If you’ve ever tried to cancel an online service, you probably already know how this story goes: it was impossible to find a “cancel my account” link anywhere on the site, support numbers were no help, and a scripted service rep tried to shove an extension on him instead of simply providing customer support.

We don’t understand why companies think hiding a cancel option is a good thing. In the short term, making it so inconvenient to cancel may keep a few customers from following through, at least for another month or so, but it’s a terrible way to treat customers. And we do notice it, companies. Let’s assume that for some absurd reason Noah needs an online fax service in the future—the first thing he’s gonna remember about eFax is that they gave him the runaround when he last tried to leave. They’ve ruined the relationship.

Compare that to eMusic, which has “Cancel Membership” prominently displayed as a standard menu option under the “Your Account” page. They’re not doing it because they want to lose business, but because they want to quickly intercept customers who are about to leave and make a deal with them before they get in a bad mood. I know because I went to cancel a couple of months ago and was immediately offered a 2-month “hold” with the option to continue or cancel after that period. It’s a better solution for them, and the customer is in a much more agreeable state to consider the offer because he hasn’t been jerked around for half an hour or more trying to figure out how to cancel in the first place. EFax provided a similar offer to Noah, but by that point he just wanted to end the ordeal, and refused to consider it.

For what it’s worth, to cancel an eFax membership you should initiate a web chat with one of their CSRs via the blue “Chat Now” button on their website.

“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” [Slate] (Thanks to Emily!)