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
64 Danbury Road, Suite 700
Wilton, CT 06897-4406 USA

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

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