Immediate account cancellation: harsh?

Yesterday my credit card was charged via paypal for Lingq for a full month ($10), and this morning I was notified that my Skype account was hacked and my paypal account was charged for 100 euros (on top of the existing balance I had on Skype, which the hacker used up). Because I was unable to communicate with Skype (long story), the only way I could prevent further fraud was to lock down my paypal account. I removed all payment info from paypal, and since there was no source of payment, I also cancelled all my recurring payments, with the intention of paying manually later as long as I had access to a secure internet connection (which I can’t take for granted). Anyway, after a not very happy morning, I logged onto Lingq and find that I had lost the full value of the account that I paid for just yesterday! I see that a disclaimer is printed on the website, so I am not questioning Lingq’s contractual right to cancel my account immediately. However, and I’m sorry if I sound like the ‘‘ugly American’’ here, but it seems like a harsh (and not overly logical) business practice compared to most other (I admit, US) companies I have patronized, and I don’t see what Lingq gains by depriving me of the rest of the time I paid for, except maybe a few bytes of server space. If someone can explain to me the business reason (not the legal reason, which I understand) for immediately cancelling an account that was already paid for, it would help to reverse my sour mood (which was precipitated by the Skype fraud).

It’s really unfortunate to hear that your Skype account got hacked. Hopefully everything gets sorted out there.

Basically everything that happened on our end was done automatically, since our system hears word from PayPal that you canceled which then triggers the downgrade on our end.

We’re certainly willing to work with you to sort things out. Please send an email to support (at) lingq (dot) com so we can help you further.

@chillies - You asked…!

The reason we automatically downgrade accounts to free is purely because it makes our payment system simpler. Payment systems are very tricky to automate and the simpler they can be made the better. We started out trying to do what you are suggesting which is to give people access for the rest of the period they have paid for. However, it gets tricky because our system needs to somehow communicate this to our payment provider. We could theoretically build a system to delay the notification from being sent or somehow send the notification to cancel payment yet keep access available on the system. But, without getting into too much detail, this involves quite a bit more complexity and also opens up the door to other issues like what happens in the case of a user who downgrades and then changes their mind? We now have to create a new payment profile and/or somehow ressurect the old one…

At any rate, the vast majority of people who do cancel are not interested in continuing to use the site, which is why they canceled in the first place. We make very clear that cancellation is instantaneous before you cancel. For us to spend the time and resources to handle the situation such as yours is simply not something we can afford to do at the moment. It is far easier for us to deal with you manually.

Thanks for the replies. Nice to know there is a technical reason rather than it being a way of saying "Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.‘’ Just putting the legal disclaimer (rather than the explanation) on the website made me assume it was the latter. I will put database programming (if that is the field involved) on my list of things to learn about…after German, of course.