Care.com Could Care Less: Don’t Fall Into the Auto-Renewal Trap

thumbs-down-womanI would like to consider myself a savvy consumer. But recently Care.com slapped me in the face.

Back in July 2012, I signed up for a one-month subscription. I quickly found an amazing caregiver for my daughter, and then never logged back onto Care.com again. I assumed my one-month subscription had ended. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I noticed this past month I was still being billed on my credit card. For the past 14 months I was being billed $35! Yes… 14 months. That’s almost $500 in fees. I was literally sick to my stomach. I would have rather thrown the money out the window.

Not once did I ever receive an email telling me my credit card was being billed.

But probably the most deceptive aspect of Care.com is they offer different membership durations, including a one-month subscription. Why would you need to offer that if it auto-renews?

After reviewing the Care.com site, I discovered the following.

Care.com automatically renews our customers’ memberships so you don’t lose any of the information you have gathered mid-search. Imagine communicating with a family or sitter on Care.com, and then the next day you can’t find their email. The contacts and connections you made are now lost. We auto-renew our customers because we don’t know what stage of the search process you are currently in. Everyone has different needs, and sometimes it takes time to find a perfect fit. If we stopped your one-month membership when it expired and you were still searching, you’d have to start over, losing the information you already gathered. By keeping your Care.com account going, you can still perform multiple searches and contact additional care providers, all without interrupting your process.

This only left me more frustrated.

I mean really… you continue to auto-renew my account so I don’t lose my searches? This is why I only signed up for a month subscription in the first place. If I needed it longer, I would have gladly paid to keep my account up to date. All that would have been required was a simple email telling me my account was about to expire.

Or how about an email telling me my credit card was being billed? Apparently this is an option that I missed while trying to keep a colicky newborn happy.

Once I determined what was happening, I contacted their customer service department. They were willing to refund the last payment of $35, which did not impress me.

In fact, they have a policy on when and what they can refund. Also, when you downgrade to the free subscription, they ask why. One of the options you can select is you weren’t clear on the auto-renew policy. Finally, do a web search for “Care.com + automatic renewal” and you will find multiple Ripoff Reports. Clearly I’m not the first customer to make this mistake or complain.

So why doesn’t Care.com stop this? It’s profitable for them I’m sure. Heck… they just made almost $500 off me and I used the service for less than a month.

Consumers beware!

Jennifer Manocchio

After starting her career with Edelman in Chicago, Jennifer joined Sweeney and quickly established herself as an exceptional industry innovator. In 2004, she opened Sweeney’s first full-service office outside of Cleveland and quickly rose through the ranks to become agency president. Jen leads by example and without fear. She has been critical to agency growth throughout the past decade and continues to lead the agency into the future.