Resigning from Napster takes more than 30 minutes

Buoyed by the news that three of the four labels are now making music available as DRM-free MP3s, Wired's digital music columnist Eliot Van Buskirk has resigned from all the DRM-based subscription services he had subscribed to: Yahoo, Napster and Rhapsody. In a fascinating piece, he recounts the process of resigning from each one. Yahoo only took one minute, but check out the rigmarole Napster puts you through!
What a pain. There's no way to cancel online, so I called the cancellation number (800.839.4210) and waited on hold for about 20 minutes listening to messages like "Did you know that your Napster subscription lets you access over 5 million tracks? Please hold, and a customer service representative will be with you shortly."

A woman came on the line and asked me a bunch of questions (Was this my first call? Could I confirm my email? Is there a phone number on which she could call me back in case something goes wrong with the call? Can I hold again?). Granted, this is two days after Christmas, but still, I wasn't too happy at how long this was taking.

When she took me off hold again, I told her I wanted to cancel because 2007 was the year 3 of the major labels started selling music without DRM. Back on hold.

She came back -- presumably after consulting a manager or the internet to find out what DRM is -- and then responded, "I don't understand, because all of our music contains DRM." Back on hold. This time, I told her I wanted to cancel because the files were DRMed, and she finally canceled my subscription.

Total time for cancellation: 30 minutes and 32 seconds

(Emphasis mine) Link


  1. !? That is such bad HTML karma.

    Honestly though, what the hell? Why can’t you cancel online. Pure BS IMO.

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  3. I am reminded of a recent call I placed to a magazine company in an attempt to try and cancel a subscription. They had this awful voice response system that literally gave me NO option to cancel, just this nightmarish roundabout where each option I tried ended with me getting “six more months for ONLY $1!” It finally ended with a second call to the company, shouting incoherently into the receiver until the system claimed it “couldn’t understand my responses” and transferred me to a call center whose rep couldn’t understand why I was screaming at her that I wanted to cancel a subscription I thought I canceled six months ago.

    Why anyone would think that they’ll keep more customers by putting them through this rigmarole rather than giving them an easy online cancellation option is beyond me.

  4. If they make it absurdly and unnecessarily difficult to cancel, you could always call your credit card company and ask them to issue a chargeback the next time Napster sends a bill.

    That usually gets their attention right away

  5. How ironic that Napster – the company that brought P2P to the public consciousness – should be the one with user-unfriendly cancellation procedures.

  6. Open firefox, open address “about:config”, search for “browser.blink_allowed”, change from “true” to “false”. enjoy.

  7. Wow, that wasn’t my experience at all. I’ve actually resigned from their service twice. Once last year and once a few weeks ago. (I decided to give it another try this summer) All I needed to do was go to the account menu in their client app, and choose “change status” from paid to “light” (free). It took about 10 seconds and in an hour or so I got a confirmation email back saying that it was cancelled.

    The only two differences I can think of are that I didn’t try to cancel the light account (I wasn’t that motivated), and I was dealing with I suppose there’s also the possibility that they’ve changed their policies in the last couple of weeks or so.

  8. Hey, it could be worse:

    Time it took to cancel the British Telecom account I never activated: 5 months, with a grand total of 60 hours spent on hold. We’re still waiting on a letter proving cancellation.

    Time it took to cancel my Gold’s Gym account: 10 months and 1 week, calling nearly every single week.

    Time it took to cancel my Sprint phone account: 6 phone calls.

    Time it took to cancel my Washington Mutual savings account: 4 separate phone calls asking for the same cancellation.

    Customer service is dead.

  9. Hey – it only took me about 15 minutes to cancel a Verizon account I wanted to put on hold while I moved.

    Best decision I never made.

  10. Ah, the blink tag. Takes me back to the nineties; ’twas a hanging offense near the end of the decade, although they couldn’t hang Henry Rollins for it on account of his neck being so thick. Good times.

    The most dumbfounding cancellation experience that I’ve had wasn’t that long or drawn out; it was a credit card rep who tried to turn down my request to cancel it over the phone because I didn’t give him a good enough reason for canceling it. I’m serious. He wanted to extend the teaser rate, and when I politely but firmly insisted on canceling, he acted as if I was breaking up with him, personally: “But I just don’t understand…” The sad thing is, I bet that that guilt-tripping approach probably worked at least a few times for him.

  11. Napster was a filesharing app back in 2000. Some greedy dweebs bought the name rights and launched another craptacular e-headache that ya chose to interact with and give money to…

    Why don’t you just share with a bit torrent client?
    Or go to the library, borrow and rip away….
    Jesus, I haven’t paid for music in eight years.
    Wake up and smell the cd-rs…

  12. I didn’t have a difficult time when I canceled – and I canceled for the same reason.

    I simply used the contact link to send an email saying “please cancel my subscription – I don’t like my music to have DRM” and I got a confirmation that evening that I had been canceled.

  13. Quicker way to cancel anything: (1) snail-mail the company with the cancellation request, (2) send a copy to your credit card company, with a note that they are not authorized to bill you.

  14. @ #8: The ONLY way to deal with BT is to write to the CEO. Ofyten, and at length. And call if you can. At least one call & letter per day is best.

  15. Had to cancel Napster for a friend. You see, she is at that point in her Meniere’s type of Deafness that metal sounds/feels wonderful at full blast, but vocal communication is impossible without some sort of visual clues (subtitles, speech reading, et c.). So when she wanted to cancel it, I offered to call in to cancel it, telling them the gist of the above. With the proper proofs, they did it quite quickly.
    Total time: Maybe 5 minutes.

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