A consumer's difficulty in canceling a Final Fantasy XI account has led to a new Illinois law which mandates that MMO providers make an online cancellation option available. Companies are also required to provide online instructions on how to cancel.
As reported by Silicon Alley Insider:
Alex Edwards played Final Fantasy Online for a few months, then grew tired of the game... His parents Frank and Cinda, who were paying the $13 a month subscription, tried to cancel the account online.
But Final Fantasy didn't offer Cinda a way to do that online, and didn't offer her a contact phone number, either. The Edwards finally found the number via their credit card statement -- but when they called, they spent an hour and 45 minutes on hold before someone answered the phone...
But unfortunately for Square Enix, who makes Final Fantasy, Frank Edwards is an alderman in Springfield, Illinois and a good friend of his local State Rep. Raymond Poe.
After hearing the Edwards' story, Rep. Poe (R) introduced a bill, HB4178, which passed both the Illinois House and Senate in May. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) signed it into law on Tuesday.
Here's a summary:
...an Internet gaming service provider that provides service to a consumer... for a stated term that is automatically renewed for another term unless a consumer cancels the service must give a consumer who is an Illinois resident: (1) a secure method at the Internet gaming service provider's web site that the consumer may use to cancel the service, which method shall not require the consumer to make a telephone call or send U.S. Postal Service mail to effectuate the cancellation;
and (2) instructions that the consumer may follow to cancel the service at the Internet gaming service provider's web site. Makes it an unlawful business practice for an Internet gaming service provider to violate the new provisions.
GP: From a consumer standpoint, it's hard to argue with this one. Plus, Gov. Blagojevich gets to sign a video game bill that might actually survive this time. His 2005 attempt to regulate violent game sales was declared unconstitutional and cost Illinois about a half-million bucks in legal fees.