ECA Tries To Prevent Members From Canceling

Some members of the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) are pretty upset that the consumer advocacy group for gamers removed the ability to turn off auto-renewal on member accounts. They’ve also removed the phone number you used to be able to call to cancel. In fact, the only way to cancel your ECA membership now is to mail them a letter–and if your request isn’t processed at least 30 days before your membership is due to renew, you can expect to be charged again. Update: The ECA has responded, but their formal statement leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Here’s what an ECA member posted last month on their forums:

It appears that the option to mark your membership to NOT automatically renew after the current year has been removed from the website?

Previously one could log in, go on the left side of the main page, inside the section “Member Login,” click your user name. Click the tab, “View.” Under “Recurring Fees” and under “Operations,” there is an option to “Cancel.”

Mysteriously that option has now been removed from the system.

Does this have anything to do with the recent outrage from what appears to be a large portion of some folks who appear to only come to the ECA for the Amazon discount that they feel was wrongly cancelled on them?

An ECA forum moderator (not an ECA employee, but presumably in contact with the organization) posted the following explanation:

What I’ve been told is that the feature was never suppose to be there as you can tell by the terms which have been the same since the beginning. The design firm who made the site used a module that had it in and they were unaware until an actual users on these forums posted about it. They’ll most likely look into an automated system at some point in the future.

Later on she notes that the auto-renewal checkbox was never a working feature. If you used it, you can now assume that you’re still set for auto-renewal.


What’s unfortunate about this is the ECA offered a special deal to new members back in September, and I posted it as the first entry on a Morning Deals post then. I even signed up for it myself to see how well the discounts worked, but the one that looked most useful–an Amazon discount on video games–was marked as temporarily offline at the time. Since the first year of membership was free, I signed up anyway and hoped it would return.

Now the Amazon discount is permanently dead, which is a whole other source of complaints and outrage on the ECA forum by members who feel it was used as bait to get them to sign up. On October 31st, the president of the ECA responded on a now-deleted forum thread that they’ve always been up front about the Amazon discount issue, and he also hints that the current “free” members are the most vocal minority in the organization–although to be fair, the Amazon offer was still being shown as a potential, but currently/temporarily offline, benefit during their recent free membership promotion. I personally saw it.

It’s not all bad. There’s still a good ThinkGeek coupon code for members–$10 off $50+ purchases and 5% off $25-50 purchases. And if you’re a heavy gamer, you might find some of the other discounts valuable.

If you do want to cancel, though, you might want to do it in plenty of time to make sure that your letter arrives and is processed, and that you can call or send another one should something go wrong. Better safe than sorry.

To cancel, send a written request to the address below (taken from their Terms page, section 6).

Attn: Accounting
ECA
64 Danbury Road, Suite 700
Wilton, CT 06897-4406 USA

Other ways to reach ECA (although only snail mail will work for cancelations):

http://theeca.com/feed_back
phone: +1 (203) 761-6180
fax: +1 (203) 761-6184


“Option to Cancel Membership Removed?” [ECA Forums] (Thanks to Christopher and everyone else who sent this in!)
BBB Entry for Entertainment Consumers Association [Better Business Bureau] (Rating was a C- two weeks ago; now it’s D+)

Comments

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  1. BenChatt says:

    Seems like no one should use this service, and that everyone who’s currently signed up should start mailing in their cancellations. No matter how useful the service could be, any company that makes things difficult for customers in order to profit, needs to be shunned.

    • TalKeaton: Every Puzzle Has an Answer! says:

      Agreed. Anyone that makes you jump through hoops to cancel a service often means there’s more wrong going on than just that.

      • AlphaLackey says:

        I have 3 free one-month XBox Live cards sitting on my desk (from various service issues) for that reason. So easy to sign up, impossible to cancel…

    • DustoMan says:

      So… You mind explaining how a non-profit organization makes a profit off of this? By definition, they make no profit.

  2. coren says:

    Not that I’m accusing you of doing anything wrong, Chris, or suggesting anyone else in particular was either, but I do know that members of certain deal sites which shall remain nameless signed up for multiple accounts and otherwise abused the Amazon discount feature in order to get the benefit multiple times. This, as I understand it (could be that I’m dead wrong here, but oh well) is a large part of why that feature was discontinued.

    • Chris Walters says:

      That’s my understanding too–that some people were stacking discount codes. I’m not sure, but I think (from reading various forum posts last night and this morning) that ECA and Amazon were trying to work out a better program that provided single-use codes, but couldn’t make it work.

      Ultimately I think that’s a sign of a badly designed discount program though. If you blame human nature for everything that goes wrong, then we can never have anything good.

      Like I said, there are still some good discounts offered. But all the issues with auto-renewal and cancelations are really troubling.

    • Raekwon says:

      Yes this was why the codes were discontinued. But the problem is they kept the advertising active and promised they would be back. This continued as they grabbed more and more members. When this was brought up they quickly edited the site and changed the promo to coming back soon and then unavailable. Many people just joined for the Amazon deal since this was the advertising that drew them in and now they are making it really hard to quit now that the deal is gone.

      I talked with Amazon and through the whole “coming soon” period of time Amazon told me they canceled the promo and had no plans of bringing it back.

      Even then if the ECA is in the right why hide and delete all the relevant threads? Why the name calling or removing the cancel options?

    • Outrun1986 says:

      This is not a reason to remove the discount for those using it legitimately and for those who paid for their membership. A system like this should be designed to prevent scams, or scams WILL happen. They should have a way to track how the codes are being used and ban those members who are abusing them and then leaving the codes for everyone else. Everyone should know this. The deal hunters on the internet, which includes me are very, very adept at finding the lowest price, and in this economy who can afford not to. I was never a member of the ECA but if I was able to enter 2 codes into an internet site and it worked, then so be it, I would just consider it an extra discount. There weren’t any restrictions on the codes that I know of, it was likely a case of someone tried it and it worked.

      Again its up to the ECA to handle and design their discount program accordingly, if you leave your program open to abuse it will happen in this day and age, its just a simple fact.

  3. hobeems says:

    Please note the following:

    12. Receipt of Mail. ECA cannot guarantee that it receives any mail that Member claims to have sent. Member should, at Member’s own expense, send any notices to ECA in a form to ensure to Member that their communication arrived at ECA, which form may include but not be limited to FedEx, UPS, USPS Return Receipt Requested and USPS Certified Mail.

    Basically, not only do they want the request for cancellation to be sent via snail mail, it needs to be certified as well. I feel uncomfortable with them having my credit card number on file even if I do go through the hassle. I had originally opted for non-auto renewal via the web, and I’m sure many others did as well. Glad this is getting more PR because people have the right to know. ECA should have at the very least contacted it’s customers to let them know of a change in their terms of agreement.

  4. KaneRobot says:

    This is shady as hell and the quote from the forum moderator:

    Q: “Why can’t we terminate via email?”

    A: “Because the org has grown too large to handle the volume and requiring a mailed piece separates those who are serious from those who are lazy or finicky – joining and leaving repeatedly – and it gives us written documentation, a paper trail to reconcile against.”

    …is pathetic. It separates those who are serious about cancelling? Yeah, I’m sure people are going to be really wishy-washy about cancelling when the only worthwhile incentive to join the damn thing (the Amazon discount) was taken away.

    As someone who actually paid for their ECA membership, I’m glad to say I expect these guys to go down hard. Couldn’t happen to a bigger bunch of pricks. If some people abused the discount codes, that’s the ECA’s fault and/or Amazon’s fault for not noticing an obvious loophole.

  5. masso says:

    The rules of thumbs is that if you let people sign up online, you should allow people to cancel online as well. This is incredibly underhanded practices. I fell for it, now I’m a little worried I won’t be able to cancel it.

    If you look at their forum, their excuse is that they have grown to large to handle accounts through email, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT. The organization is too large too handle thing electronically… so they turned to papers and snail mail?

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Yeah, that confuses me, as well. You would think that an electronic system would actually be more desirable for high volume than returning to paper and the postal system. Go figure.

  6. tsukiotoshi says:

    Well, that would certainly rile me up, no question. Personally I don’t always know year to year whether I want to renew my membership to an organization, or can even afford to. For the most part, I expect to be reminded that my membership is expiring and ask me whether I want to renew. Having an auto-renewal feature is fantastic for people who know they will renew and find it easier to just have that taken care of automatically. Making it the only option, however, is ridiculous, and I think a little deceitful.

  7. Damocles57 says:

    My rule of thumb is that if a company uses different methodologies for enrollment and disenrollment, something is very wrong. Online enrollment that is quick and easy while using snail mail disenrollment tied to a time window is wrong.

    If a company has a product worth buying or a service worth using they would not feel the need to make disenrollment so arduous and/or convoluted.

    • Raekwon says:

      Well it wasn’t like this when we signed up. Everything was easy and web based as expected. They claim it was never supposed to be that way even though it had been as far back as any existing members could remember. At least you could cancel by phone…until they removed that as well.

  8. ShockingAlberto says:

    Chris, I was one of the people that sent in a complaint about the ECA. I feel one of the things that needs to be mentioned is that, even if your card expires, the ECA has explicitly said they will keep trying new expiration dates on the same card information until the charge goes through.

    http://www.theeca.com/terms

    5. Right to update Credit Card Account Information. If the credit card provided by Member to ECA has expired during an attempt to bill fees per section 4, ECA will revise the expiration date and proceed with billing using the same credit card account.

    That’s extremely sleazy.

  9. ArcanaJ says:

    Is that their logo? What the heck is that supposed to be? Sauron’s night light?

  10. Chumas says:

    I’m highlighting relevant parts, but this applies to this situation.
    Making members snailmail in and then delaying the removal thereby forcing the consumer to remain a member when they do not is a breach of contract and against the law in the state of Connetitcut. the states ATG would love to hear of this, and would happily smack the company in question around.

    Okay, taken from Connecticut’s Attorney General’s webpage:
    http://www.ct.gov/ag/cwp/view.asp?A=2426&Q=328038
    November 14, 2006

    Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) Commissioner Edwin R. Rodriguez today announced that ABC Alarm Company of Milford and its two principals have agreed to pay $225,000 to settle allegations that they scammed consumers.

    “Refusing to cancel contracts, and threatening and continuing to bill consumers who tried to cancel contracts. “

    Consumers with questions should call the Attorney General’s Office at (860) 808-5400.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      That’s fantastic.

      I always notice that northern states’ AGs are the ones filing pro-consumer lawsuits. How can we get that down here?

  11. ufpdom says:

    This is total calamity . A place that continously changes policy w/o notice is inherently dangerous. I never once got an email stating that they changed their TOS. I’m curious on what will happen as many banks start getting calls for this. Its interesting that their home page states: “Be heard Contact your Politician”. I wonder what people like walmart and target will do if they hear about this. Will they continue to sell their items? You cannot even log into their site and change your credit card number. So I guess many will have to cancel their cards via their respective credit card companies..

    • DustoMan says:

      “Will they continue to sell their items?” !?!?!?! The ECA represents consumers…. I don’t know about you, but I’m not selling anything to Wal-Mart and Target.

  12. bravo369 says:

    I’ve thought about this for a while but I never understood why, other than making it difficult, companies in this day and age don’t accept correspondance from emails or online accounts. For emails, as long as the email comes from the one you have registered in their system, they should take it as valid. Yes you can spoof emails but that’s why you have to digitally sign it. they want a paper trail? i think they just don’t want YOU to have a paper trail. with email, i have the exact date and time it was sent and can probably do a return receipt to show that it was read.

    I also would love to see the FTC or whoever else can govern it, fine companies who have ludicrous hold times. I should not be on hold for longer than 20-30 minutes to resolve problems or cancel my account. that’s why when i know there are usually long wait times, i choose the customer sign-up option who can then assist me. It just seems like there will be 500 people ready to sign people up by 2 people available in order to cancel. Maybe consumerist can do a study on this comparing major players in a market.

  13. Raekwon says:

    Thanks for finally posting this. Some other things:
    The ECA has mandatory arbitration in their TOS. They also have that famous “we can change things without notice” clause as well.

    They advertised that the Amazon promo would pay for the membership itself even though it was down at the time. It was a week until they finally removed it and many people signed up thinking it was going to be back. In fact they constantly were telling us it would be back during that time. They currently list a Tritton promo but it of course is also “coming back soon.” Their Buy.com discount says for any purchases but when you try to use it you find out it is just one of their New Members Only discounts.

    Originally their forum moderator asked us to use the feedback form to cancel or stop auto renewal but so far not a single person has received any response from it.

    For a consumer’s group they do a poor job of protecting consumer’s rights.

    Not to mention they have moderators who stifle any dissension by deleting posts, hiding parts of the forums, and calling people names using ad hominum attacks to discredit. Low class all the way.

  14. rcarlton says:

    what weasels – they are listed by the State of Connecticut as a “civic league” and are a tax-exempt organization in that state – http://www.taxexemptworld.com/organizations/wilton_ct_06897.asp

    they also claim their income is so low that they don’t need to file a tax return with the IRS.

    guess those heavy admin expenses are taking away the income, eh Harold?

  15. Keavy_Rain says:

    I didn’t see this mentioned above, but if you signed up with a card that expires before the auto-renewal their TOS clearly states they’ll just change the expiration date on file and reissue the charge.

    I signed up for the free trial and plan on sending along a snail-mail cancellation letter with delivery confirmation and the letter will include a pre-stamped envelope addressed to me, in which they can place written confirmation that my account has been canceled and will not be charged. After that’s sent out I’m going to my bank and I’m going to have a new credit card issued with a totally new card number and I encourage any current ECA members who want out to do the same. IF they somehow charge you for renewal or send you to collections, you’ll have plenty of evidence on your side.

    I would have continued to support the ECA after the Amazon discount removal, but their actions and the actions of their staff (I consider moderators staff) have shown me that this is a dirty organization. Plus, have you READ what they’ve been saying on their own forums about the members? Calling people lazy because they want to cancel online, claiming that the snail-mail method is better because “it creates a paper trail” cuz, ya know, ya can’t print those fancy electronic mail thingies on real paper or save them in a .pdf file.

    I can understand being upset because a bunch of kids are screaming you stupid over not being able to get 10% off games at Amazon, but don’t take your anger out on us reasonable adults who thought we were entering into a legitimate business arrangement with reasonable adults. I had high hopes for the ECA being a legit organization that would give me and my fellow gamers a real voice, but it turns out they’re about as organized as the people I find in team-based games on Xbox Live.

  16. Nikolii says:

    I’ll freely admit, I signed up with them using the freebe code. I said, “why not, the discounts are good and if they actually do something, I will have no problems renewing.” Taking away the Amazon code sucked, sure, but I wasn’t going to cancel on that. I watched the fallout on the ECA forums for a few weeks. I did not like how the only community manager/rep from the ECA would post something and then disappear for a week. She rarely answered anything directly, ignored relevant questions, and didn’t keep the members in the loop. I can somewhat understand that. They were in ongoing negotiations with Amazon.

    However, the forum moderators, people that aren’t employed by the ECA but control the forums, are terrible. One guy in particular is a total ass. He has no problems insulting anyone that dares question the ECA and has no problem deleting valid posts, locking valid threads, and issuing warnings for posts tamer than his. In other words: mods encouraging trolls.

    The President of the ECA himself decided to grace the forums with his presence and try to handle some of the claims. He claimed they never marketed the Amazon code as the primary feature or as something that would “pay” for hte membership, only a benefit (this has since been deleted, since the ECA is going into lockdown mode on almost any dissenting thread). Unfortunately for Hally-boy, the rest of the Interweb didn’t delete anything.

    “”If you buy three games or so a year through Amazon, your ECA membership is basically free,” Hal Halpin to Ars, found at: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/03/eca-membership-now-brings-game-savings-at-amazoncom.ars

    He’s claimed the discounts are supposed to be bonuses, but any time they were on the press junket or plugged the ECA, they pimped out the benefits. They came off more like AAA to me than the AARP, where as they’re contending the latter.That could be me personally, but whatever.

    Since then, almost every Amazon thread has been deleted and any new dissent over Amazon, attitudes towards members, genuine questions on positions or what they’re actually doing, or now cancellations face heavy-handed moderation or outright deletion.

    The cancellation problem is the last straw. Prior to this, you could turn off auto-renewal online or call them up and do it over the phone. This is just asinine. I just cancelled AAA. That took a phone call. I’ve cancelled memberships with Interest Groups. That took a web form or a phone call. I’ve cancelled AOL successfully. That took a long phone call. Snail mail is totally unacceptable in 2009, and their justification is downright bullshit.

    “Please understand that this protects ECA from undecided or finicky members who are joining and leaving repeatedly in order to access current benefits which costs us resources and time. It also gives us written documentation, a paper trail to reconcile against.” (found: http://forums.theeca.com/showthread.php?t=6992 )

    This has to be the first quasi interest group I’ve ever encountered that gives a damn about this. What exactly do they need a paper trail for? “Oh look, Bob Smith has signed up for our group 4 times and cancelled 4 times. We still got his $80 dollars though.”

    To top it off, they give an address. They don’t tell you what the letter has to contain outside of ones concerning double-billing. Even then, I feel entirely uncomfortable sending a letter to anyone containing my name, address, phone number, and CC information, especially if they’ve shown themselves to be grossly incompetent already. Also, since I absolutely expect them to pull an AOL and lie about receiving the cancellation, I have to spend more money to mail it certified with return receipt.

    They’ve managed to convince me that their organization is so grossly incompetent that it cannot handle member dissent on an Internet forum, cannot communicate with their members without taking the tone of teacher-scolding-student, cannot handle internal problems, and take cancellation tactics that would make Aol. jealous. I’m also not entirely sure what they’ve actually done to “help the cause.” Toe the publisher line on DRM? Say “WE LIKE NET NEUTRALITY” or “ANTI GAME LEGISLATION IS BAD?” I mean, what have they actually done? Any prior credibility that the ECA has is gone. The organization is on the same level to me as any other shady NPO that tries to milk people out of money. Expect to read about the demise of the ECA within the next 18 months. Thanks guys, you burned any sort of public trust and you set the cause back within your community. Good luck trying to get anyone involved after this.

  17. jetblack says:

    I just clicked on the BBB and the rating is now at B+. It went that high in one day?

    • Chris Walters says:

      I’ve asked both the BBB and the ECA to comment on that and am waiting for a response from either.

      In the meantime:
      The BBB notes on their website that company rankings change daily, and that last time I verified the D+ was around 11pm ET on 12/01/09. I’m unclear on how it could have jumped to a B+ only 12 hours later unless the BBB threw out or re-ranked a huge portion of complaints.

      If you look at this page on the BBB site you can see how they come up with letter grades. Within the past 12 hours they gave ECA back nearly two-thirds of the points they’d taken away.

      Weird.

      • Jeff-er-ee says:

        The report that I read on the BBB site about the ECA indicated that they had fielded a total of 3 complaints against the ECA, and that all of them had been “Administratively Closed” or resolved. They also indicate that the B+ rating is due to the time that the company has been in business. No other comments.

        It appears that you’re correct Chris. A “huge portion of complaints” were thrown out…2 out of a total of 3.

        GamePolitics, the blog arm of the ECA that I’ve been following for more than 5 years (since before it was part of the ECA), has posted a reply from Mr. Halpin to this blog article. You can see it at http://www.gamepolitics.com/2009/12/02/eca-statement. I have to say that, although obviously I don’t know all of the details on either side, this is looking a bit like sensationalism on the part of Consumerist. Not unusual in the blogosphere (GP isn’t immune to it either), although in this case I’m a bit disappointed. I expected better from an arm of Consumer Reports though.

    • Raekwon says:

      It was because they were still missing information on the company which I believe starts them at C. Now that information has been added so they are dropping from A. Something like that.

  18. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Nikolii
    Sounds like you have sour grapes and a skewed view of things, I have seen the mods in question be active in discussions about the ECA and perhaps one be a bit one sided in his view but I have not seen im use his mod status to quash on topic, respectful arguments and discussions. The forums are pretty free flowing and open minded still and I been in them for years and still not got rid of town drunk status to boot HA!
    =============================
    As for the ECA as an origination, it sucks, it sucked before it took over GP and after it took over GP(gamepoltics) it sucks now. From the get go its more a buffer group between the ESA / corporate nazis and the public, i suppose being all kissy faced with the industry is how you build a foundation but meh.

    As for the issues with amazon codes and stuff it was something new they started and well….they are/were working out the kinks in the system I’ll give them a little slack..its raher easy to be half assed in some things after all. :P

    Now as for the change in membership cancellation, perhaps they are overhauling thier pay system but franbkly they would pound the pavement telling members changes are a coming but this smacks of half assed dickary if they are not changeing and really removing it they have really become a industry origination like the oh what was it gamers voice or something along the lines that was 100% industry backed….

    Anyway I am a happy member of GP and the forums I tried once to join the ECA but after a year drooped out simply because they are still industry pets….. don’t get me wrong they are fast and efficient when it comes to legislation but any hack group with free time and some money to annoy law makers with can get bad laws repealed for consumer stuff they are lightweights and prance and dance around issues not always giving any proper lip service.

    If you got the cash to burn you can support them but know you are supporting the industry over consumers.

    • Nikolii says:

      The only sour grapes I have is that the ECA has shown itself to be blatantly incompetent when handling in-house dissent or potential membership issues. I’ve never posted in the forums, I don’t even think I have a registered name TO post in the forums, so it isn’t like I’ve actually had a personal problem there. I have watched in silence, and I’ve seen numerous mods just shut down any sort of dissent in addition to the ECA taking a “Delete everything” approach.

      Since about October, they’ve shown themselves to be blatantly incompetent on so many levels. That’s where the “sour grapes” comes from. They’ve managed to destroy any sort of trust within the gaming community with their garbage, and they’re using scam-artist tactics.

  19. RedNumberFive says:

    Yeah, these guys are pretty much scammers.

    I have used their webform, as well as email, phone, and post to try to cancel. None of these methods have worked in removing my CC information from their site.

    If I even TRY to politely ask about this via their forums (which seems their only form of open communication) my posts are deleted almost immediately.

  20. tonberry says:

    crap, i signed up for them, and only got one code out of it. guess its time to send out the letter, and call my cc company to request a new number. is it not illegal for them to just randomly change the expiration date on the card if it had expired? this sounds a lot like fraud to me. i think this might need to go to the AG Office.

  21. RedNumberFive says:

    Tried to cancel via their webform, phone, email, and post, but no dice.

    They have also been cleansing their forum of the mere mention of this topic.

  22. Eric1285 says:

    I actually paid for my membership (about 2 weeks before they started giving them away). I got a lot of use out of the Amazon coupon codes, but they were pretty much the only reason I signed up. I guess I’ll be mailing them a cancellation letter now that the codes are gone for good.

  23. Muthafodder says:

    If it’s so hard to configure the online option and maintain the associated database…

    How in the hell are they going to build confidence from their members when they go to bat for gamers regarding Legislation?

    I think this was their last straw!

  24. roguemarvel says:

    This is so upsetting. I was so excited about the ECA when I first heard about it. I was kind of upset at the ESA at the time and the idea of group looking out for the video game consumers interest was something I could get behind. I admit I didn’t join right away, because of money concerns but when the offered the amazon discount I thought it was a great deal so I paid to be a member. I actually didn’t care that much when the discount went away because thats not that I felt they were about. I was a little concerned because I didn’t see much being done. I guess Game Politics is great and nice to keep up, but a letter writing campaign to the President about his “Get off the xbox and get outside” comments? Come on! That was about being active not about video games! But whatever they are trying maybe just a bit misguided. This pisses me off. How could they? If gamefly did this I would expect an artical on game politics calling that action out.

    this makes me sick….I’m going to mail my letter off shortly

  25. Llamas Notsheep says:
  26. KaneRobot says:

    I saw this elsewhere but it is worth repeating:

    This kind of bs will ensure that we wont be able to have a proper organization that is legitimately fighting for “entertainment consumers” for a while, since no one would trust another “ECA”.

  27. Schildkrote says:

    Video game consumers get screwed in a wide variety of hilarious ways, possibly more so than any other consumer group, and have been for years now. The fact that yet another organization is taking a bite out of them shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

  28. MrAkash says:

    Trying to get a Twitter movement going as well….use hashtag #theECAsucks

  29. Raekwon says:

    On Joystiq their founder Hal Halpin posted a response which fails to answer a lot of the questions. He says the free membership was passed around the NET and not using his original post of it which is a half truth. The ECA was referring people to places like CAG for the free membership and promo information.

    He claims they removed Amazon stuff when the discounts went down. This is also not true. During the beginning part of the discount being discontinued they still advertised it and I remember people posting they were confused as to how to get the discount as stated on the site. They also have not removed other promos that are incorrect or discontinued (Tritton and Buy.com for example). In fact they still leave the part that Amazon used to give them discounts to attract people hoping it will come back.

    Then he completely avoids the issue about removing the phone number to cancel. Or the fact that Gypsyfly told us we could turn off auto renew using the feedback form which I still haven’t received a response after using.

    • Raekwon says:

      It has been brought to my attention that the advertised Direct2Drive 10% off all purchases promotion is also false. Add this to the other falsely advertised promotions list.

    • DustoMan says:

      The Amazon ads were taken down when it was unavailable. However, if you actually understood how the Internet works, it’s a hell of a lot easier to put something up then it is to take it down. Once the ad copy removal was put in, it takes a while to cycle through the various ad delivery systems. People who criticize the ECA about the ads not being gone the second the codes were taken down are being unrealistic and unreasonable.

      Secondly, the forums were being moderated to keep them from getting out of hand and to prevent the updates about Amazon, ads, cancellations, etc from being lost in the Internet noise that happens on the forums. I don’t know how much to read those ECA forums, but the sheer amount of moaning from people who feel the ECA owes them some kind of entitlement makes me feel ashamed to be a member of said advocacy group. I’ve never seen a more unruly or whiny bunch of people who feel slighted over $20 measly dollars. Frankly, I’d be shocked to see Amazon do anything for the ECA or any other non-profit like this again based on the responses from the membership.

      • Raekwon says:

        Actually the Amazon ads were up for at least a week whilst the codes were down. Regardless I have listed 3 current ads/promos that are incorrect and they have known about these as well. They were told in forums they weren’t working or were incorrect and they still advertise them on their public pages. It is only once you sign up for a membership and then try to use the promos that you learn they aren’t advertised truthfully. The Amazon one just happens to be the one most people know about is all.

  30. Thread says:

    I’m really interested to see how this plays out. Is there any way to even confirm an account has been cancelled?

  31. Michael the Great says:

    They point to the terms of service for why you’re required to send a letter, but the original terms of service didn’t require a letter. I don’t know when the change was made, but originally the agreement said: “A Member may cancel this Agreement and membership in the ECA Service by calling 1-203-761-6180.”

    Oh, and then there’s their statement: “..due to a small but active number of members who were repeatedly joining, leaving and re-joining the organization – in an effort to exploit our member benefits and unduly take advantage of our partners’ generous offers – we would require a mailed letter…”. Well if it’s a small number, why would you inconvenience your whole membership with a backwater requirement? I don’t think they’ve still said exactly what’s supposed to be in the letter. You would think they would in the very least have a stupid form to fill out and print. But since they can’t figure out not to put a checkbox on their website, I guess they can’t figure out how to type a form in Word and then save it as a PDF.

    And then we can’t cancel our membership through email “Because the org has grown too large to handle the volume” especially with people leaving and joining over and over again. Rather than screwing your whole membership, why not just have a rule that the same person or credit card can’t be used to join more than once every 6 months?

    And if the organization is so big that you can’t handle the amount of people canceling, then how can you take care of the big issues that you’re supposed to be helping us with?

    Oh, you were going to show support against that big video game law but you couldn’t get the senators to send you letters with certified mail? Because your terms also say: “ECA cannot guarantee that it receives any mail that Member claims to have sent. Member should, at Member’s own expense, send any notices to ECA in a form to ensure to Member that their communication arrived at ECA…” Do you lose industry communications too, or only members? Or is this just really saying you don’t reply to communications? Are you saying that the only way we’ll know you got something is because the DC number says so…

    And really, what in the world has the ECA done for us? I’m not canceling because of Amazon. I’m canceling because if the ECA can’t handle this clusterbomb better than they are, how will they ever do anything positive for me?

    If they can’t give answers to questions about these issues on their forum till the storm’s been brewing for 2 weeks, how are they going to react in time to big issues? If they can’t answer their own member’s concerns without sounding like uncaring jerks, how will they come across to the industry?

    Yeah, I want someone looking out for me in the industry and in Washington. But I think we do better with the stupid individual boycott campaigns than with the incompetent ECA. If they don’t work, at least we are’t paying for failure.

    • ZippyDSMlee says:

      Ya I mean is it so hard to have the system look for the same address and put a 300 or so day hold on benefits to said address?

      This just reeks of “hey look what we can get away with the bottom line will grow for sure! LULZ”

  32. famousmoviestar says:

    I doubt I would have caught this myself. Created an account for The Consumerist just to say thanks :). I will be canceling my account today certified mail. These guys are crooks!

  33. StudioGeek says:

    As a follow-up to this article, they now have the option to not auto-renew. If you go into your profile, and into membership status you can set it to NOT auto-renew again.