Getting Ripped Off By NBA League Pass!

December 26, 2010 in Basketball, Blogging, NBA by pacejmiller

Update 1 (5 November 2011): It seems League Pass is still ripping people off but in a different way.  This season they have stopped offering monthly passes (unlike in past years) and are only offering season-long passes for either the entire league or just your favourite team, but have continued to allow monthly payments.  Naturally, this would confuse some people into thinking that it is a monthly subscription that can be cancelled at any time, but apparently once you have put in your credit card details they refuse to refund or cancel your subscription no matter what.  Check the latest comments for more details, including the response from League Pass.

Update 2 (21 April 2012): NBA League Pass (NBA TV) is still ripping people off. Badly. Their business model is basically to make it very easy for you to sign up, so easy that it is likely that you’ll miss the crucial terms such as no refunds after the first 48 hours — under no circumstances whatsoever. In other words, if you sign up for a season and you change your mind after 48 hours, too bad. You’re locked in. And if you don’t cancel before the end of that season, it automatically rolls over for another one. But the problem is, they make it virtually impossible for you to figure out how to cancel within 48 hours. The so-called “cancellation clause” in the terms is pointless because the link does not work. It still doesn’t — I just checked. I also checked the support page and lots of people are up in arms over this. I noticed a comment saying that the link doesn’t work, and the reply was that they will be updated “shortly”. Well, that was over a month ago. You are still forced to email them at: [email protected] — however, I have been told that they won’t necessarily respond or won’t respond quickly, so you need to be very forceful and just tell them to cancel it, straight up.

IN SHORT: NBA League Pass automatically renews your membership every time it expires (regardless if it is monthly or yearly) and there is no way to cancel your membership on the website or on your account page (despite what it says in the terms and conditions when you sign up).  The only way to cancel at the time of writing is to send an email to [email protected] (and this email address is nowhere to be found on the website on on your account page).

I just finished watching the LA Lakers getting spanked by the Miami Heat on Christmas Day, courtesy of NBA League Pass.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the League Pass, which allows subscribers to watch every NBA game in HD on their computers for around US$20 a month or US$100 for a season (which doesn’t save much considering the season goes from late October to mid-April) — playoffs cost more.

It uses up a lot of bandwidth, but it’s a dream come true for any NBA fanatic.  If you upgrade to the premium service you can even watch four games at a time and rewind and fast forward at all, and every past game of the season is also catalogued in full or in condensed mode.

However, if you have signed up for it or intend to sign up for it, let me give you a word of warning.  Be very careful, or you’ll get ripped off like I did.

I first signed up to the free trial at the commencement of he 2010-2011 NBA season, and liked it so much that when the free pass expired at the beginning of November I decided to sign up for a month at a discounted rate (around AU$20).  I enjoyed it for a month and forgot about it until the Christmas period, when I decided to give it another go.

To my surprise, my League Pass account was still active, as was my “Monthly” subscription.  It still worked too, which made me realise that the subscription must have automatically rolled over at the end of the month.  Fine, that’s my fault.  I didn’t read the fine print carefully enough when I signed up.  Lots of Internet businesses use the same method (especially under the guise of “free trials” that require your credit card details) to catch less astute consumers off-guard.

Anyway, here is the deal.  When you sign up, at the billing page, you enter your credit card details, etc, and there is a small box containing the ‘Terms of Use’ just before you can click the place the order.

Most people don’t read this stuff.  It’s in a small box, and print is small, and you have to scroll down to read the 5000+ words of terms and conditions.  As I do not live in the States, the terms on my computer were for non-US users.

The relevant provision is this, about a fifth of the way into the terms (I had to dig this up by pretending to be a new subscriber):

Subscriptions and periodic billing: Monthly, Regular Season and Playoffs subscriptions begin when you place your order and will renew automatically at the selected interval (Monthly, Regular Season or Playoffs), until terminated by you as provided in this Agreement.

In other words, if you subscribe, your subscription will be automatically renewed.  I only had to pay an extra month — but it’s the same if you paid for an entire season.  You’ll get automatically billed again if you don’t terminate the subscription.

As it said very clearly a little further down:

ALL SALES ARE FINAL.  We do not give full or partial refunds for subscriptions that you have purchased regardless of the basis for the refund REQUEST.

With a few days left before my monthly subscription automatically renews for a third month, I decided to terminate my subscription.

And here is the problem.  There is no way to do it!

I went into the “My Account” page after logging in and looked around everywhere.  Nothing.  Not a single mention of being able to cancel or terminate the subscription.  Not even in the FAQ, Help or Terms of Use pages (the Terms of Use link was different to what I was presented with when I signed up and did not mention cancellation).  I tried to delete all my Billing Information, but that didn’t work either, not unless I put in another valid credit card.

To add fuel to the fire, there is no email address to contact anyone from NBA League Pass from the “My Account” page or the League Pass front page.  It’s as though they purposely tried to prevent any possible method of cancelling your subscription.

I then pretended I wanted to sign up for a new account and went into the billing page, where I was again presented with the Terms of Use (the one that stipulated the automatic renewal).  These terms do have a termination clause, which states:

YOUR RIGHT TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

You may elect to cancel your subscription at any time by visiting http://ilp.nba.com/myaccount.  Your election will be deemed to have been received one (1) U.S. business day after you notify Us that you want to cancel your subscription.

Yes, the clause says you may elect to cancel the subscription at any time by visiting the link.  But of course, that link is just to the “My Account” page, which I have already said, contains absolutely no way of cancelling the subscription.  If that is not misleading and deceptive, then I don’t know what is!

Fortunately, I remembered I got an email from NBA League Pass when I first signed up ([email protected]) and I was able to respond to it.  I made it clear that I wanted to cancel and was not happy about my inability to do so.

About seven hours later I got a response that simply said:

Your NBA League Pass subscription has been canceled. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

There you go.  In the meantime, I will continue to use the League Pass until it expires in a few days.

It just amazes me that something like this could happen.  This is the type of tactic you might expect to see from semi-scam sites, but not something as supposedly respectable as the NBA League Pass.  I’m not sure if the problem stems from the fact that I’m a non-US user, but even so, it’s unacceptable.  Not a happy customer.

Has anyone else had a similar problem?