https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

LanguagePod101: Be Careful!

I'm posting this because I know many Duolingoers use podcasts from external resources.

A month ago I was looking for some Italian podcasts and came across LanguagePod101. Okay, I signed up and wanted to download what's available for free, but then I received a special offer of one month premium subscription for just one dollar or even one cent. Well, why not? This looked like a nice promotion offer. I entered my credit card details, payed one dollar or cent and got what I wanted from my premium subscription. After that, I closed the site and forgot about it.

Imagine how I was surprised when today I saw a notification about $25 being charged from my card! This was an auto-renewal of my subscription - and I don't remember ever giving my consent for this. Well... I'm not 100% sure because I got tons of other offers from LP101 and maybe I overlooked something. Generally, I'm not stupid in what concerns credit cards, so this information must have been really inconspicuous.

I went to the site and saw a big question: "Got a billing question? Click here for more info". Okay. On the next page the first question was "I was charged $25 and I don't know why". I looked into it and filled a form to have my money refunded. I hope they will answer soon and give me my refund.

I'm still angry with them, though. The links on the site and information about $25 charged for unknown reason mean that there are really many guys who, just like me, never wanted any subscription auto-renewal. So why do it without explicitly asking for users' consent?

With this post, I want to warn you: if you ever accept the LanguagePod101 special offer, go check your account settings and disable any subscription auto-renewal if you don't want it.

P.S. And how cool it is that Duolingo is really free without any hidden charges :-)

Update: They refunded my payment. All is well that ends well!

February 2, 2016

33 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Dcarl1

This is a common strategy with many services. Never sign up for anything without reading the small print and/or setting the cancellation date on your calendar as a "to do." I've gotten sucked into these types of things too, but more rarely these days.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

Sure, I will take it as a lesson. I just thought LanguagePod101 was too serious to scam in such a way. Well, it was a mistake, and this upsets me even more than the actual money trouble. It's always disappointing to lose faith in somebody you trusted.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Dcarl1

It's super common these days with many businesses. Once you run into it, you keep an eye open for the next time...

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ckhadung

I almost bought a discounted Pimsleur French course long ago. The deal was really good and incredibly cheap but before I clicked purchase, I saw a very tiny statement saying "by clicking, I agreed to subscribe to their other French course which costs $200+ per month" with automatic renewal. Voilà!

February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/psionpete

They are not scamming you, if they did not give you any of the items in the offer then that would be a scam. I am sure they will have made the information about automatic renewal available although that may have been in the small print. sites who use this tactic I think rely on users signing up and then forgetting to cancel the renewal.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

I may have used a wrong word - I'm not a native English speaker. I just don't consider it honest business, even though it is not strictly illegal and one can always blame the user for not reading something in fine print.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

Whether or not something like this is actually illegal will depend on the legislation of the country where it is offered from and even on the legislation of where the buyer lives. In some legislations, hiding something essential in the small print simply isn't acceptable, even if the customer clicked "yes, I read the small print".

So companies should be really careful not to use these kinds of slimeball tactics -- obviously from a PR point of view, but also from a legal point of view.

If the "misunderstanding" is so common that they have a part of the website set aside for clearing it up, it seems they are very aware of this being a problem for many of their users. It seems strange that they would want to alienate these users so actively, and make them so (understandably, in my view) angry about it that they warn others about the service, rather than take the necessary steps to avoid the misunderstanding in the first place.

February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

I totally agree with your last point.

February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/psionpete

I saw this offer about 6 months ago but when I looked into it there was an faq page and that did explain that you would be charged $25 unless you turned auto renewal off so I would be surprised that this was not explained at the time of your order. Hopefully the content you were able to recieve was worth it and that you get your $25 back.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

Maybe I was too careless and missed something out. However, it's a shame to make money on inattention. Not illegal, but just ugly.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/choeisa

Are you still looking for Italian podcasts? http://podclub.ch/it/ has several.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

Thanks for the link!

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Secret_Dartmoore

Wow. That's just too bad. We can all learn from that.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/BrookeLorren

I do believe that they state that when you get the offer, but if you're not paying attention, it's not too hard to overlook.

I'm pretty sure that you can turn off auto-renewal immediately and then you don't have to worry about it :-).

February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/olimo

This is the purpose of my post - to warn others to turn the subscription off if they don't want it :-)

February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/caselthor

It's called a subscription for a reason. A subscription isn't a one time payment deal. It's recurring. I highly doubt it was an "auto-renewal." It was just the subscription continuing; that's what a subscription does. You shouldn't give your credit/debit card information to a website and "forget about it."

Plus I've had great experiences with their site, especially their free YouTube channels.

February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

It's called a subscription for a reason. A subscription isn't a one time payment deal. It's recurring. I highly doubt it was an "auto-renewal." It was just the subscription continuing; that's what a subscription does.

That is not the definition of a subscription. From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subscription: "an arrangement for providing, receiving, or making use of something of a continuing or periodic nature on a prepayment plan". Note the continuing or periodic.

Even in the simplest of examples, such as with a magazine subscription, you usually have the options of a set-term subscription or a (usually slightly cheaper) continuous subscription.

February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/caselthor

Note the lack of "one time" payment.

February 4, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

Where did anyone claim "one time" is an intrinsic quality of a subscription? I refuted your claim that "recurring" is an intrinsic quality of a subscription. That's the "or" in the continuing or periodic, you know. I even gave examples of different kinds of subscriptions.

February 4, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/caselthor

I'm sorry, you missed the point. This whole time my point is that a "one time" payment is not a subscription. Recurring, aka continuing, is a quality of a subscription, and thus the op shouldn't have been surprised when his subscription continued into the next month.

If you look at my original comment, I even use the word continuing. So I'm not even sure what you've been arguing, but it seems like you actually agree with me but misunderstood me.

February 5, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

I guess I should tell The Economist that the subscription I have with them (which amounts to a one time payment followed by a delivery of the service over a period of time, and which is not renewed automatically) is not a subscription. They also offer other subscriptions which are explicitly auto-renewed -- why would they mention that since you think that subscriptions are per definition auto-renewed ("It was just the subscription continuing; that's what a subscription does.")?

Or I could just ignore you and trust The Economist (and many other English-language service providers) and the dictionary.

February 5, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/caselthor

Oof ya, you've gotten lost in semantics.

Yes, you have the option to pay one time (the prepayment plan), but the subscription itself continues, recurs, etc. Wow, this is surprisingly difficult to explain a subscription. I never realized there were so many layers to explain.

February 5, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

the subscription itself continues, recurs, etc.

It really doesn't.

It's a one-off thing: you pay once, you get the service during a pre-specified time, that's it. Just like what the OP thought she was getting.

February 5, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/caselthor

So then... never mind... you must be a lot of fun at a party.

February 5, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/pont

It's called a subscription for a reason.

The languagepod101 sign-up page is 1,367 words long, and contains the word ‘subscription’ exactly once, in the following sentence:

We packaged up some of our most popular series and made them available for purchase without a subscription.

So in this case, it's not called a subscription for a reason, because it's not called a subscription at all.

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February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/caselthor

And if you go to your account settings, it has "subscription settings" for the premium/paid features. So yes, they call it a subscription. Currently, I have "no active subscription."

February 4, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/doostrunk

Thanks for that, I hope you'll get refunded. I know this website, I would probably have done the same thing.

February 2, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/brittalexiswm

This is why I use their YouTube channel, and use podcasts from news sites.

February 3, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/SarahMerce9

I had $60 taken from my credit card by just this tactic. Yes, be very careful.

June 4, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LeilaAzimova

Did you get your refund? I got charged 220 usd today, while I never signed up for auto-renewal - I thought the "Extend" button in my premium account was there for a reason and that extension was absolutely voluntary!

June 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SarahMerce9

No - but I got 50% off for a year on something else by accident, so it sort of evened out. Word of warning, their premium service really is not worth having. You have to continually ask them for work to do, and the onus is on you from day one. They don't help you use their service at all. It is good if you go for the lesser which is still a premium but costs a lot less. Their premium plus service is a waste of money.,

June 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Hobbes100

Aha. Gracias mi amigo! I have just recently started using SpanishPod101, so will be aware. Glad you got a refund!

August 2, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/EmmaMusik

Tbh, I signed up to the same site for the 1$ offer, and they made it very clear that the monthly subscription would renew automatically, which would mean a recurrent payment of 25$ if you didn't cancel beforehand. So no, they're not "scamming" you, you just didn't read properly.

April 6, 2019
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