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    I thought this would be the best forum to post this in, seeing as it is more of a legal issue than a technical one. I'm not too sure how familiar any of you are with domain names / web hosting, but I shouldn't think that will matter.

    I purchased a domain (a 2 year subscription) from 1and1.co.uk about 2 years ago but ended up discontinuing my website over a year ago and simply decided to let my domain expire, I then got an email a few weeks ago stating that my card had been declined for my account renewal, as my card details have changed several times over the last 2 years. They just seemed to assume that I wanted to stay with them and didn't even ask me.

    Again, I thought I'd just leave my account to expire (I suppose I should have rang them at this point really). Now I've had a letter demanding that I pay for my account renewal (which I don't even want) and that if the matter isn't resolved I will be sent to a debt collection agency and will have to pay an additional £15 on top of it.

    I've just spoke to a guy on the phone and he's saying that even if I want to cancel my account I will first have to pay the oustanding fees. I asked why they had decided to renew my account without asking me and he said that it was because it was an automatic service or something along those lines.

    Is it even legal for a company to behave this way? I have no memory of agreeing to them automatically renewing my account without asking for me to confirm it!! I know it's only £6.88 but it just really gets to me when big companies can think they can just do whatever they want. I'm tempted to just bite the bullet and pay the money now before it's too late, but if they're behaving in an illegal way then they can forget it.
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    dont pay anything, if you never agreed to an automatic account renewal. turn it round and threaten them with legal action for the posh word w.e it is for doing things with out telling you, like renewing.
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    Check the small print because xbox renew the fee's (Only £5 a month) without you agreeing to it. Better off checking the small print first and spending a few days checking it just incase.
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    The answer is: it entirely depends. Contracts with automatic renewal aren't unusual. However, a lot will depend on whether there was a term specifically dealing with automatic renewal, whether this was a consumer contract, what notice you had of the term, etc.

    My general approach based on what you've said and on a brief (20 seconds) thought (this is not professional advice, see disclaimer at bottom) would be to send them a letter saying (a) that you don't accept that there was a valid contract term leading to automatic renewal and (b) that you don't intend to pay the alleged debt unless they can show why it was owed with reference to the contract terms as agreed at the time of the purchase.

    Don't do anything over the phone, because it isn't documented. Insist that they put down their justification for charging the fees on paper.
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    their Terms & Conditions.

    5.10

    Upon termination of this Agreement the Customer shall be bound to pay any outstanding amount of the Charges in respect of the Services received up to and including the date of termination and the Company agrees to refund in full the difference between the Charges for the Services received up to the date of termination and the amount actually received by the Company from the Customer. The customer acknowledges that invoices relating to domain name registrations, shipping & handling of software and additional traffic are non-refundable.
    8.1

    Either party may at any time by giving notice in a written and signed summary document, terminate this agreement without compensation to the other party if the other party shall become bankrupt, or if a body corporate pass a resolution or the court shall make an order that one party be wound up, otherwise than by way of amalgamation or reconstruction, or if a receiver or manager on behalf of a creditor shall be appointed, or if circumstances shall arise which entitles the court to make a winding up order.
    10.2

    The Customer may exercise the right of cancellation by notifying the Company in writing at the Company's address shown in Clause 1.1 by sending a fax to the Company at 01753 490444.
    8.5

    Should the customer not receive email confirmation of their termination within 14 days of their request date the customer is responsible for contacting the company to ensure the termination has been received.
    They look within their rights there unless

    a) Their T&C were different at the time you took out the contract with them (did you keep a copy?).

    b) You complied with term 10.2?

    c) Did you receive the e-mail they mentioned in term 8.5? If so, have you still go it? If not, the onus is on you.

    Some big companies do take the lack of legal knowledge in the public for granted but a number of consumers think they have rights beyond which they actually do. Hardly anybody reads a contract but when things go wrong that is what you need.
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    I'm sure it would have been made perfectly obvious that the contract was one of automatic renewal.
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    I've had this problem before, i got the letter around xmas time and have just ignored it, I've had nothing since.

    The T&C's are so long I don't think anyone actually reads them all through thoroughly.
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    I always got stung for this with domain renewals. The best bet with .uk domains if you had paid the fee (i.e. it come out of your account automatically) you can use nominet's terms and conditions to demand a refund within 7 days of ordering. This includes new domains and renewals. The company will kick up a stink but it's well withi your rights. I had to go round 5 different people at fasthosts (worst company ever btw).

    If they still don't pay, threaten to inform nominet that they are in violation of nominet's T&C. I don't care that it says no refunds in fasthosts T&C, I am entitled to a refund.
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    I wonder whether 8.5 would pass the UCTA/UTCCR tests...

    In any event, none of those clauses deal with automatic renewal. If the contract is presented as a fixed-term two year contract, there would need to be notice that there was automatic renewal.
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    I wouldn't have thought it is an unfair term.

    Sorry, left out the perpetual billing info.

    4.4

    Once we fulfill your domain order we shall notify you of the successful registration of the domain name(s).

    We will host your domain name(s) for the initial pre-paid registration/billing period and for all future registration/billing periods. Your account will be automatically charged at the beginning of each registration/billing cycle, for the entire cycle. Registration/billing cycles will continue automatically, except at which time you cancel the package or move the domain(s) from 1&1.
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    I've just had a quick flick through the t&cs and i cannot see any term that states the company is entitled to automatically renew your contract upon expiry of the original agreement.

    I also cannot see a term that states that any changes to the t&cs will affect or be incorporated into any existing agreement. It would therefore be helpful if you could find a copy of the original t&cs for your agreement. You may have been sent a copy in an email.

    If the debt is for charges after the originally agreed duration of your agreement the company will not be entitled to charge you, that is if there is not a term stating that they can automatically renew your agreement upon expiration.

    I have not studied the t&cs in detail and the above may therefore not be accurate.

    If you can find your t&cs and post them on here we may be able to do more.

    On another note, i work in a Civil Lit dept for a law firm and my opinion would be that they can pass the debt to a DCA but it is very unlikely that proceedings will be issued for £20.00ish. It will cost more to do so.

    Feel free to pm me if you have any more qs.
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    (Original post by bennym87)
    I've just had a quick flick through the t&cs and i cannot see any term that states the company is entitled to automatically renew your contract upon expiry of the original agreement.
    See my previous post.

    T&C's should never be flicked through
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    4.4 seems to authorise automatic renewal, though it's not clear. In any event, the usual UCTA/UTCCR and Denning's "red hand" test would also apply.

    Raise a fuss, make a stink, tell them they never brought it to your notice. It seems doubtful that they would fight it, and even more doubtful that they'd win if they did.
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    They did it to me. They were within their rights. I paid up.
    Never go to live in France by the way - look at the T&Cs of their insurance companies!
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    (Original post by MelesMeles)
    I wonder whether 8.5 would pass the UCTA/UTCCR tests...

    In any event, none of those clauses deal with automatic renewal. If the contract is presented as a fixed-term two year contract, there would need to be notice that there was automatic renewal.
    Indeed, no way would 8.5 pass those tests. 8.5 is unenforceable.

    To be fair though, the word "subscription" does hint at automatic renewal. Signing up for a subscription service on a 2-year basis is a fairly common thing. I've been caught out before under similar circumstances with a online game server, though the company were nice enough to waive the renewal fee as I contacted them the same day that I was billed for the subsequent cycle. Personally I would just pay the outstanding amount; though not any additional fees - though if you didn't, its very unlikely that the company would do anything - though I would send a written notice cancelling the account.

    None of the T&Cs redefined posted actually state that you signed up for a recurrent subscription, 4.4 just applies when a recurrent subscription is in place. But I suspect it is listed as a subscription somewhere.
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    Thanks for all the advice! Im considering just putting it in writing. The thing is, on the letter they sent me it says this:

    In accordance with out Terms and Conditions we will place a temporary freeze on your 1&1 package(s) in 7 days unless we receive payment in full...

    ...Please be aware that if this matter is not resolved, you may be sent to a debt collection agency. If the account is sent to a debt collection agency a £15.00 charge will be added to the unpaid balance.
    I don't know the law very well, but I wouldn't say this bit is particularly clear. When they say "if this matter is not resolved", do they mean in the 7 days they wait until freezing my account or what?? I originally had the impression that I wouldn't even have the time to send them a letter as I may be sent to a debt collection agency but now Im not so sure.

    I think I'll just send them a letter saying to cancel my account and that Im refusing to accept their dodgy policies (only Ill probably word it a bit better than that)
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    (Original post by Redefined)
    a) Their T&C were different at the time you took out the contract with them (did you keep a copy?).
    I actually have a copy of the 1&1 contract (they're nice enough to post you a copy) from a couple of years ago and it has similar language. It's a pretty universal practice among the major domain registry companies.

    I'm surprised they didn't email you before hand though to let you know that it was going to get renewed automatically.
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    They don't need a contractual right to refer a debt to a debt collection agency (though my knowledge of assignment is rather lacking...). The "matter is not resolved" bit is more in the way of information. Its just a threat to say if you don't pay up, we could refer you to a debt collection agency. Its a fairly standard thing to say. I doubt they actually would refer to a collection agency over a £6.88 debt.
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    You'll find a lot of subscription services are automatic renewal - e.g online games. I've seen quite a few debates on the subject, especially as some software companies have randomly turned auto subscription back on totally independent of any new subscription payment. As far as I'm aware, a lot of online practices e.g EULAs and TOS' are bordering on unenforceable - however a lot of the time the stakes are so low that: nobody bothers challenging it, the company backs down or your bank simply reverses the charges.

    In your case, it would have been easier if they simply took the money from the account, as then you could have contacted your bank and stated they were unauthorised. This will often result in the bank reversing any transactions. Sorry I can't be any more help
 
 
 
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