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Rosetta Stone and Their Website Blues

We've all had challenging or frustrating events on certain websites over the years. To that end, I felt compelled to share my recent website challenges with Rosetta Stone, a brand of language-learning software, headquartered in Arlington County, not far from Washington D.C.

I subscribed to RS a few years ago to brush up on my German as I planned to spend almost 20 days in Central Europe. My original price for 2 years of German was $328 but with a hefty discount, my total fee was $143.76. A fair price for an effective and comprehensive foreign language learning program, something I used regularly for at least my first year of the subscription.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Rosetta Stone saying my subscription would finish on September 23, 2020, and if I didn’t want to continue, I’d have to contact them. Fair enough. The email notification had a link -- so far, so good. Unfortunately, the link didn’t work so I logged on their site and tried a link to cancel the subscription and again, no success.

My only option was to call. Good news, I was only on hold for about 10 minutes. In my view, companies can save money by leveraging their websites to address non-complex interactions done online. I get it, if you reduce the call volume by 10 or 20% by having a well-designed website, that’s more company savings. Ideally, that’s what many companies try to do with website design. However, if the link doesn’t work on the email notification or their website, a customer needs to call. So I was forced to call – if I had known this, it would have saved me 15 minutes by trying to get this resolved absent a phone call.

So I call RS and canceled my subscription as of September 23, 2020. The CSR claimed repeatedly that I’d receive an email shortly with my confirmation details. Just to be sure, I asked her what my confirmation number which she obliged (# 07957408). It’s been several weeks and I’ve still not received that email. (Perhaps the email server has been down for maintenance too.) Anyway, just out of curiosity, I asked her how long that website link had been down and she said it’s been down for 2 weeks – due to web maintenance. I had to stop and digest that fact -- 2 weeks for web maintenance, that’s crazy! Many successful companies will do website maintenance during weekend hours to ensure customers are not inconvenienced. Not with RS in this particular case.

One more thing, RS could have been more customer-centric by mentioning their website maintenance at the top of their site as well as correcting all email notifications to avoid including a link that doesn't link a user to anything.

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin (Once Part of East Berlin)

Again, I have a confirmation number so I'm hopeful my subscription will be properly canceled. I could call again and mention the lack of receiving that confirmation email but I suspect that the CSR would say, “You should have received one by now, don’t know what happened,” and then go through that process again. I won’t repeat Groundhog Day. I’ll just make a note in my calendar to review my credit card bill for September.

One more thing that not only pertains to RS but other companies that provide service subscriptions, the onus is on the customer to cancel, otherwise, the subscription would continue and the client is on the hook for the additional fees. Do I agree with this business approach? No. Ideally, I prefer companies to be more transparent by agreeing to a certain subscription period and once that's complete, the agreement is finished. Otherwise, due diligence is needed for all subscribers to do the necessary follow up to ensure they are not billed for something they no longer want.

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