The FTC wants to ban those tough-to-cancel gym and cable subscriptions

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The US Federal Trade Commission is proposing a formal ban on subscriptions that are simple to start but difficult to stop. This morning, it announced a notice of proposed rulemaking it dubs “click to cancel,” requiring companies to make ending a subscription equivalently simple to signing up for one. That includes letting people use the same method for both actions — so a business can’t, for instance, let someone sign up for a service online but make them call a phone number to cancel.

The rule has a couple of other provisions. Many companies try to keep subscribers by offering special deals or perks, and they’re still allowed to do that, but they must offer an up-front opt-out that lets customers bypass the sales pitches. They also have…

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