Thursday, February 19, 2009

Forced continuity - a dark side of Internet Marketing

Understand please that I have no problem with selling information of any kind on the Internet. However, I do dislike some of the techniques used both on and off the web to separate people from their money.

One online marketing method I dislike very much is call "forced continuity."

The problem is that some very well recognized internet marketing people use this method, especially to increase the number of subscribers to their monthly training and information sales ventures. I think this has the potential to create an overload of mistrust and doubt by the same people who create good incomes for the internet marketers.

People, just because some "gurus" use this forced continuation does not mean they are to be respected for it.

I saw an offer to join a "program" a couple of days ago. The price is clearly announced as "$1.00 for the first 30 days." Fair enough. The announcement is not hidden in small print. The option to discontinue the program is also clearly stated.

But most successful internet marketers are not new kids on the block. They have studied techniques by the money makers. In fact, these techniques to get you to send them money are now getting seasoned and now have a cookie-cut look and feel. Except for a small minority of marketers, if you see one, you've seen them all.

It is laid in stone, I think, that if you can bring in someone for a $1.00 trial, the odds are that this person will not notify you to cancel the program either because he is embarrassed to do so or he just forgot to do it.

But I did something that many people do not do. I read the very long text ad carefully. Yes, the $1 peek charge was true. The continuation charge was $97 per month. Excuse me? Did I read that right?

Here is how it works. If you do not cancel out the program your credit card will be charged $97 on the 31st day. (or is it the 30th day?) Doesn't matter. If you have not cancelled you will owe the $97 IF you notice the charge on your card.

Well, I guess some things are worth $97 per month but not too many, in my opinion. If there was an iron clad guarantee that if you followed their methods you would achieve a certain monthly income in return, then fine, I would not object.

In fact, that may be another way to market. Make a guarantee like that for the first year. If you product is that good then I predict that the people who are genuinely successful will not ask for their money back. My experience on the Internet is that a very high percentage of people are extremely honest. I first learned that marketing products on eBay.

To be fair, most Internet marketers are very clear when they talk about the actual monthly cost. They don't hide the fact, but frankly, I don't think they stress it enough.

I wrote the owner of this product a short email asking if they would accept Pay Pal since I could not see that possibility when I clicked to the payment area. She said, "Sorry, no Pay Pal."

Hmmmm, that is strange? Or is it?

See, IM people are very aware that it is very easy to cancel recurring payments in Pay Pal. They also know it is not so easy to do the same through any other credit carrier. They know that you may be embarrassed about cancelling but more likely, they know you will forget to contact them before the 30th day.

There was a very long thread over at Warrior Forum about this subject. Many pros and cons were posted.

Here are a very few links I found for you to investigate.

Be sure to read this forum exchange:,585.0.html

Carolyn Middlebrook wrote this fine article about Forced Continuity.

Michael Fortin wrote an article about forced continuity. He is more forgiving than I am.

The US Government has a page on forced continuity. Mainly it says BE CAREFUL. It also gives phone numbers you can call to complain. Use them.

The topic is about offline business as well:
Check this out: Forced Continuity - The good, the bad, the questionable

Search "forced continuity" and you will find a lot of references.

My opinion is that this is a practice that needs to be ended for the good of the IM industry if not for the good of any individual.

Frankly, most of the time if they won't take Pay Pal, I won't buy it at any price.

That is my opinion. This topic has been raised many times. I don't think the concept has saturated the marketplace buyers yet by a long shot. I am passionate about persuading people not to use this technique.

Many guru types do not agree with me. I hope they feel free to post their reasons here. Let them know about this article.

What is yours? Please comment.

Photo credit: shari c

Greg Cryns
All About Paso Robles, California


  1. Hey Greg

    I couldn't agree with you more! :) This is one of the primary sins I spoke out against, and it is my hope that we can spread the word about using better, more transparent methods, to sell our products ethically.

    Thank YOU!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thank you, Sylvie. Let's spread the word as far as possible.

  4. I'm with you 100% here. I believe it is always good to be transparent and honest.

    For example, as a website designer, I have seen MANY people get ripped off by domain registrars promising "privacy" and "parked domains" and "hosting" and such that is rarely needed or used by the buyers. is one of the largest purveyors of unneeded services, in my opinion. Try to buy a domain at GoDaddy and you will have to click through all sorts of screens trying to scare you into buying crap that you don't need.

    That is why, I always recommend to customers that they go with someone that they trust when buying anything - a used car, a logo, a website, an email subscription, etc. To me, it's usually worth it to pay a bit more for piece of mind.

  5. I starting to think that without a huge linking network, seo can take hours and hours. These other guys log into 5 websites and get a few thousand backlinks and go straight to the top of google. I guess the only thing about doing it all natural is I sleep better at night.

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