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At the bottom of the Protect America home page, there's a navigation bar containing a link titled "return". Even though this same navigation bar is present on each page of the web site, I don't know if that qualifies as being "conspicious"

If you click on the return link, you'll be presented with instructions on how to return the equipment within 7 days of receiving it, subject to a $79 restocking fee.

Following these instructions, they let you know that you're signing on for a 3-year term, as well as the following "negative option" provision:

Agreement will automatically continue for successive one-year renewal terms, as allowed by law, unless PAI receives a written notice of cancellation from customer via U.S. Mail or overnight mail postmarked at least sixty (60) days prior to the end of the initial term or any subsequent renewal term. Customer may be required to show proof of delivery.

Plans such as this are also called "continuity plans", emphasizing that the customer is assured of continuous service.

You might have heard that the Federal Trade Commission has a "prenotification" rule that applies to negative option plans, which requires the business to give you a notice before you become obligated to further payments. However, one of the fine points of that regulation is that it applies to products, but not to services.

Whatever it's called, though, this provision makes the customer responsible for a year of service, for failing to give advance notice that they don't want to renew. That's certainly not very consumer-friendly. Some would consider this kind of provision abusive or unconscionable, or simply an unfair business practice. There's no good reason that the customer shouldn't be allwoed to terminate service at the end of the current month.

If you're currently in a contract with Protect America, you don't need to wait until the last year of your contract to provide notice. You can send them notice of non-renewal, certified mail, return receipt requested, any time up until 60 days before the end of the third (or subsequent) year. Make sure you keep a copy of the return receipt, since they will probably demand proof of delivery, hoping that you will have misplaced it.

A simple way to deal with such provisions is suggested by radio commentator Ed Foster, who calls this an "evergreen clause". In his radio weblog, he says:

... if you know that the evergreen clause is there, don't do business with that company in the first place.

Topic ProtectAmericaHomeSecurityNegativeOptionPlan . { Edit | Ref-By | Attach | Diffs | r1.1 }
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Revision r1.1 - 30 Dec 2009 - 02:09 by EliMantel web search for EliMantel
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