ECA Statement

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) has issued a statement in response to an article posted on the Consumerist blog today, which alleged that canceling membership in the organization was difficult and overcomplicated.

GamePolitics is a publication of the ECA.

The response, from the President of the ECA, Hal Halpin, is unedited and after the jump:

 

We were disheartened to read some of the coverage and comments related to complaints regarding our member cancellation policies this morning. The issue seems to have begun following a guest article that I penned a few months ago, where I highlighted the various policy issues that gamers should be aware of – from Net Neutrality and Universal Broadband to Digital Rights Management (DRM) and End User License Agreements (EULAs). I concluded the piece by providing those who had taken the time to diligently read the article with a coupon code, encouraging them to sign up for a free trial membership… the logic being that we’d like to have readers who care about the issues among our ranks. For about four weeks following the publishing, we had a small bump in new member acquisition, but they were not coming from the article, unfortunately. These new members were coming from websites and forums that were solely promoting the coupon code, sans important reading.

Within a relatively short period of time, some of the new members found an exploit in one of our partners’ promotional codes and spread the word. The partner tried to resolve the situation, during which time we removed any references to the program, but ultimately it was decided that the offer be terminated. We advised members as soon as we were aware and reassured them that we were working on additional offers with new partners. We updated our website during the same timeframe in a long planned for Content Management System upgrade and an inactive back-end feature became visible, which looked to give some members the option to opt-out of the association. We were alerted to the error and removed the non-functioning feature immediately. Because it was viewable and then removed, those same few members became concerned that it was a feature that had been live all along and was suddenly removed. We then attempted to explain the situation and allay their concerns.

There were then concerns about the auto-renew structure of our payment system and business model related to that same function. We explained that we are working on ramping up infrastructure to become more automated going forward, but due to a small but active number of members who were repeatedly joining, leaving and re-joining the organization – in an effort to exploit our member benefits and unduly take advantage of our partners’ generous offers – we would require a mailed letter, as per our membership agreement. Needless to say, that incensed the exploiters who then contacted the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and their personal banks to report that we attained their membership under fraudulent conditions, in effect committing fraud themselves. Upon investigating the opened investigations, the respective banks and BBB all found ECA to be soundly reputable. We understand that several of the banks have since opened fraud investigations into their customers and that they take such matters very seriously.

Over the past few years, membership in the ECA has grown substantially, the primary reason for which is directly attributable to the important work done by the association, partnerships formed with coalitions, parallel trade associations and corporations, all eager to help defend the rights of game consumers. We have added many valuable benefits for members including discounts on games-related goods and services, purchases and rentals and a whole host of additional affinity benefits. We have several retail partners who offer significant promotions and several more, which are in the process of being finalized. It is important to note that the number of members who were/are involved in this unfortunate issue is very small and not representative of the organization as a whole. We sincerely thank the dedicated ECA members and the gaming community for their understanding and support on this matter and we look forward to continuing to grow the organization to suit the needs of the consumers.

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105 comments

  1. 0
    Weatherlight says:

    There are ways of making it work without membership fees (thats not saying it will be easy either). One of the things is the ECA an organisation formed to raise awareness of a cause or is it just another buisness? To me it looks like a straight up buisness claiming to be something its not.

    ~Weatherlight~

  2. 0
    Weatherlight says:

    People getting paid is a good thing however membership for a consumer rights organisation should be inclusive and not exclusive. Running events and activities with a fee is fine and dandy, just membership should be free. Idea being more voices to the cause. I buy a lot of stuff from places that the ECA was giving discounts on, but what good is me being a member if I am just there for the discounts? NONE

    ~Weatherlight~

  3. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Even if I think doc kefkas political views are illogical lulz fest hes right on this one… I am shamed to see so many mindlessly defending the ECA on this whats next when the ECA says DRM is nice and user friendly will they bend over for that too?


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  4. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Meh offering a subsection and a free membership(with no preks) is not so bad…but they handle thier subsction system poorly….they should have a paypal option it has a subscription set up thats easy to manage. And that is the problem like so many other places they do not want people to easily manage their money…


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  5. 0
    JDKJ says:

    The real question is whether this is a handful of people that just pissed because they want more perks or signs of a larger problem.

    You raise a good question and certainly one worth the ECA’s time and effort spent attempting to answer as they move forward. But I suspect that the number of comments generated by this article and the substance thereof aren’t any sort of accurate reflection of what the answer to that question may be. By my estimate, close to half of the comments posted here, and the most decidedly negative ones at that, are from posters who’ve never had a paid membership in the ECA and never had any intention of getting one. As a means of reading the mood of the actual ECA membership, they’re of absolutely no value simply because they come from posters who aren’t members of the ECA. But, unlike you, they don’t readily admit that they aren’t ECA members and therefore don’t have a horse in the race. To hear them tell the story, you’d mistakenly think that the ECA somehow dipped a hand into their pockets and stole their last 10 bucks, leaving them incapable of buying food to eat or paying their rent. Which isn’t to say that they’ve no basis to hold an opinion on the matter or that stating their opinion makes them in any way hypocritical. Just to say that their comments have absolutely no statistical value if you’re interested in determining where and how many of the ECA’s membership stand on this issue.  

  6. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "However, this doesn’t mean much to people that have lost faith in the system and feel that there responses are falling on deaf ears."

    I’m just trying to understand why people have lost faith in the system seeing as nothing much has changed.  If you didn’t like the system from the beginning, I get you but what caused you to lose faith in the first place?  The only thing the ECA has changed is sometime in the last year and a half it removed a phone call as a method of membership cancellation from its Terms of Service.

    As far as responses falling on deaf ears, I haven’t been on the forums much either but from what I’ve seen, the mods and Halpin have been very responsive.  Unless by "their responses are falling on deaf ears" you mean they haven’t immediately catered to demands like "reinstate the Amazon deal" or "give me an easier way to cancel my membership."

    "Then there’s the pulling of offers that were apparently valuable and changing EULA to be less user friendly."

    No offers were pulled; Amazon discontinued its promotion and the ECA promptly removed the ads and updated the benefits status to discontinued.  Also, there’s no evidence that the EULA changed recently.  It could have been as far back as a year and a half ago.

    "The reason for this is because of people have been abusing the offers and everyone else is expected to bear the punishment. There are better ways of handling the situation and we all know it."

    So?  Blame Amazon.  They’re the ones that discontinued the promotion.  Why is the ire directed at the ECA for something it didn’t do?

    "We worry what’s next."

    Why?  What has happened that would make you think the ECA would start willfully ripping off its members?

     

    Andrew Eisen

  7. 0
    PeterWDAwson says:

    So because some people are being tools, we should sit back and let the people in charge mess with all of us and pick on anyone who complains? I was waiting for the punchline but I’m guessing you’re serious? Wow.

    Yeah, public relations is about treating your customers/members/what-have-you with respect while weeding out the jerks. The ECA is currently not trying to weed them out, pretty much saying that they don’t trust any member. It’s just like DRM, hands down. Luckily I can still send as many letters as I want, but sending a letter to quit a website just feels stupid. Should a digital age service not include digital age communication support? Pattern analysis would be a much easier and efficient way of finding the weeds.

  8. 0
    harrypres55 says:


    I kept my comments vague for a reason: I’m more or less uninformed as to the whole situation. Everything in my post was my observation of the all the comments so far. Since this was posted, there has been an overflow of negative feedback. The real question is whether this is a handful of people that just pissed because they want more perks or signs of a larger problem. You have to admit that most of the people here are mad about something.

    Your right. Most of what has been posted hasn’t had much weight. Most has been "ECA sucks" and that’s not fair. The ECA does a lot for consumers and I’d hate to think that the community has turned their backs on them. The comments here seems to suggest they have.

    "IF" this thread is representative of the community at large, then the issues made should be taken under consideration.

    "IF IT’S NOT" then it’s really doesn’t matter and it’s business as usual.

    I’m not an ECA member so you’re free to call me a hypocrite for even injecting myself in this debate. This is really beating a dead horse anyway. I appreciate what the ECA and GamePolitics does for everyone.

     

  9. 0
    harrypres55 says:


    This argument is circular and pretty much all points have been made but here’s my two cents anyway. Andrew, I’d like to be the first to acknowledge that you DID say that you agreed that the system isn’t as good as it should be and you offered suggestions on ways to improve (There is a phone number on the site and a way to submit feedback). However, this doesn’t mean much to people that have lost faith in the system and feel that there responses are falling on deaf ears. I don’t know if that is the case but that is how people feel right now.  One example is the forum Nazi people were talking about. I’ve never been to the ECA forum but from what I gathered, it’s not a very hospitable place to socialize freely. Then there’s the pulling of offers that were apparently valuable and changing EULA to be less user friendly. The reason for this is because of people have been abusing the offers and everyone else is expected to bear the punishment. There are better ways of handling the situation and we all know it.

    Yes, I agree that ECA can change their EULA when they want to and stop offering promotions they deem fit and change their practices at anytime.  We worry what’s next. A 3 to 6 month processing time for the snail mail while we get charged? It’s highly unlikely but they COULD say that and be within the rights to do so. Thing about it is we expect it from someone else; not from an consumer advocacy group that is supposed to be against that and for the people.

    Are we overreacting? Maybe. But that is not our problem, it’s the ECA’s if people start canceling there memberships en masse. If not, then everyone is just talking big. End rant.

    I tried to be civil and fair as best I could. Big hugs for those whose feelings I hurt.

  10. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Since you asked . . .

    They stole their acronym from the U.N.’s Economic Commission for Africa. As if Africa hasn’t been plundered enough already as it is. Now, we can’t even have our own acronym. 

    Thieves in the Temple!! Thieves in the Temple!!

  11. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Instead of replying to individual posts, I’m just going to put some generalized comments here.

    Many of you seem to be upset over what the ECA has done.  My question is: What exactly has the ECA done that’s upset you?  Here are some common complaints:

    "The ECA has made it more inconvenient to cancel membership!"

    Not really.  Cancelling membership has always been inconvenient.  The only thing that’s changed is you can’t call anymore but there’s no evidence that that happened recently.  It could have happened anytime in the last year and a half.  Still, the phone number is still available on the ECA contact page and there’s a feedback form complete with a membership cancelation category.

    "The ECA tricked me into signing up by advertising an Amazon discount that didn’t work!"

    Nope.  When the free membership promotion was started, the discount was live.  Once Amazon ended the promotion (Amazon, not the ECA), the ads were pulled and the membership benefits section was updated to reflect that the offer had been discontinued.  Yeah, it sucks (especially if that’s the whole reason you signed up) but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.  Besides, you probably signed up for free so you’re not out anything and there are other benefits.

    "The ECA removed my ability to cancel auto renewals!"

    Nope.  That functionality was never there.  Yes, some checkbox or something was visible at one point but it was never functioning.  Bottom line, you’ve never had the ability to do that.  Yeah, it sucks and hopefully that feature will be introduced in the future.

    At the end of the day, the only thing the ECA has changed is the ability to call to cancel membership but that could have happened any time in the last 18 or so months.  There is no evidence to support the notion that the ECA took it out in response to the current membership snafu.

    So, I ask again, what exactly has the ECA done to upset you?  I don’t personally have a problem if you don’t like the ECA but please, criticize it for something it’s actually done.  Don’t like the terms of service?  I can see why.  Don’t think the ECA’s done enough to defend consumer rights?  There’s an argument there.  Think the logo’s a bit too clever for its own good?  Me too.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  12. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Looking at your post, I have to conclude that you’re still as paranoid and delusional as you’ve always been and that your deck still don’t add up to the full 52 cards.

    And how would you like it if some crazy fuck-head was encouraging people to sic an Attoney General on you over some nickel and dime, petty bullshit? I bet you wouldn’t like it one bit. You snitchy-ass punk bitch.

  13. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    Looking through this post, I have come to conclude the only ones who are defending this are ECA Employee’s or Moderators and this entire situation has pretty much made the entire populace lose faith in the ECA. Just because a company has an EULA or what rule set when you sign up, you don’t leave your rights at the door. The bait and switch done does warrant people from their individual states to write their Attorney General and go from there.

    I think anyone here conservative and liberal can both agree you cannot have bait and switch tactics and then remove all together two or the three ways to cancel your membership.

  14. 0
    Stoli says:

    Not sure I can agree with that. If someone’s going to dedicate a large amount of their time to something like this, well, they gotta eat and get around too. Maybe if he had solid gold combs this would be a valid complaint, but…costs money to do just about anything these days.

  15. 0
    Stoli says:

    So what if it was "never supposed to exist"? Guess what? It did. Most places that allow you to cancel the same way you signed up. This isn’t the case now. And as a consumer advocacy group, it should be that way.

    As far as the second bullet-point, WOW. Hal himself said that it was abused by a small percentage of the membership. If that’s the case, why not just deal with those abusing the system? They’re now punishing everyone, which just screams sleazy to me. Even then, the discount is no longer there; there’s no Amazon discount to be abused any further.

    The ECA should’ve dealt with those abusing the system directly. Instead, they now have a huge PR nightmare on their hands and unless they pull a very fast and monumental 180, it sounds like they’re going to lose a lot of members.

    While the ECA has the attitude they currently have, I won’t be signing up for a membership.

  16. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    Yeah, because apparently the people doing this shouldn’t ever be paid…

     

    Making appearances at conventions, keeping a site up and running, and just keeping the lights on costs money. Hell ,the Amazon deal would have NEVER existed at all if the ECA didn’t make some kind of deal wit hthem, and eventhat might have cost something.


  17. 0
    Stoli says:

    So, why didn’t they just deal with those particular people? And at this point, it’s moot; the discount is gone. They could’ve also looked into better ways to distribute the discount (maybe they did, though I don’t know).

  18. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    What all the whiny little babies here are ignoring is that you’re blaimg the wrong people. You shuld be tossing the blame at the greedy little shits that were rapidly joining and cancelleing their membership solely for the discount.

    Just like with piracy, it’s not necessarily the organization itself that is at fault, it’s the jerkasses that made these measures necessary. If you need to blame anyone, blame the peopel abusing the system for their own gains, than the people who joined for reasons bigger than themselves.

    People rapidly joining and cancelleing means the EXA would have no moeny, and despite their mission they hire people that need to be paid and have expenses such as electricity and equipment as well as travel costs. You don’t scream at an amusement park’s manager because soem jerk went out of his way to ruin your vacation.

    Seriously people ,get over yourselves.


  19. 0
    Weatherlight says:

    I never joined the ECA because I didn’t like to looks of their site and thought that if they are arguing for consumers rights membership should be free. So while a couple of friends joined, i didn’t, and I have to say glad I didn’t.

     

    ~Weatherlight~

  20. 0
    Ratros says:

    Sad yet truthful.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  21. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Why would they? A large percentage of them would appear, at least from my observations of a significant number of the comments usually posted here and in the back pages, to oppose most anything which would make it more difficult to rip-off other people’s shit. Which suggests to me that they’re not disinclined to rip-off people’s shit. They’d naturally tend to not complain about the rip-off. Rather, they’d naturally tend to complain about not being able to rip-off. 

  22. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    But it was working mostly and abuse of the current system could be easily fixed by looking at addresses and locking them out of benefits for 300 or so days after rejoin…… not to mention the certificated letter basically makes this killing a fly by hurling the planet into the sun….


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  23. 0
    Conster says:

    So let me see if I get this straight: people are angry at the ECA for:

    – Removing a non-functioning "opt-out" button which was never supposed to exist;

    – Making signing out harder because people are abusing the current system.

    I notice how none of these people seem to give a rat’s ass about the weasels whose exploiting caused the rule change to begin with.

  24. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Maybe, maybe not.  Have you tried it?  I haven’t.  But I know that’s the first place I’d go if I were a member seeking to cancel my membership.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  25. 0
    Awol says:

    ESA’s VGVN isn’t hard to unsubscribe just email them I did and it worked. Of course they could still count me as a number just not send me anything.

    While sending the ECA a letter to cancel does suck lets hope they fix the system and allow a more better way to cancel in the near future. The biggest problem I think they have is being small without their own IT department to program the features they need into a website that IMO sucks to try using as a membership database.

  26. 0
    Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    You know, I remember the ruckus on GP over ESA’s Video Game Voters Network and the inability to unsubscribe from it. That service is free.

    Here we have ECA, a service that costs money, pulling the same stunt, and all of a sudden I’m supposed to feel for ECA? Not gonna happen.

    Maybe you shouldn’t be charging for membership, if your systems aren’t ready to handle it, Hal.

    http://pixelantes.blogspot.com/

  27. 0
    Freyar says:

    I joined the ECA in April of 2008. The sad thing is that I joined the ECA particularly because I felt that it was important to support a group that fought for my rights when it came to electronic media. I didn’t care so much about the whole discount program. In fact I don’t think I even used a single coupon.

    Now with me, being the kind of member the ECA wants, is seeing the ECA turning around and doing exactly the OPPOSITE of what I threw my money behind. They want me, at my expense, to mail a tracked letter to them to ensure that my membership be canceled as opposed to having an online system like they should have in the first place?

    This is an organization (small or not) that is fighting for digital media. It makes absolutely no sense as to why they wouldn’t have automated systems in place. They have one to take credit info and set up the accounts, but they don’t have one to cancel payment.

    When I read through, I did see that I was able to cancel via phone, however I’m told (without ever receiving an e-mail identifying an update to the terms of membership) that I must now pay to have my membership canceled.

    Am I going in circles? Maybe, but I’m just that frustrated with it. The ECA can’t be held liable for uncertified mail that’s lost. Well what’s to say that the mail isn’t just binned? Do I get a response back that my membership was canceled in writing? Will I be able to request all my billing information be purged?

    Even worse is that on the forums, the data required for a cancellation request isn’t available. What do we have to include? Name, Email address, forum name, member name, physical address, credit card number, ccv, or DNA? Sorry, you are not prepared, ECA.

    —-
    There is a limit for both politicians against video games, and video games against politicians.

  28. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Were you the same person who was taking the position that the Xbox Live TOS said "no refunds" and therefore that was more than enough to end any discussion on the matter of refunds?

  29. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ya but this is where malicious intent meets half assed intension’s IE mistakes, I think theres enough room to argue that they screwed up and then tried to fix it badly. But this reeks more of ass corporate ass saving…the bottom line must be protected damn logic and ethics!


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  30. 0
    insanejedi says:

    Technically it is illegal because the ECA can be acting in Bad Faith which is an actionable offense to consumers. Even if you had something in the EULA that says "We can do this or that" if you have malicious intentions such as attracting members through benifits and taking away those benifits and making it hell to get out of the membership than the court can decide that you are acting in Bad Faith and using the EULA for malicious use.

    Even if we did sign the agreed TOS and EULA of something, if the rights holder inserted something for the DELIBERATE use of taking advantage of consumers and scamming them, then the excuse that it was in the EULA is void. Because people expect that the EULA is the same across the board and putting something like "we own your soul" is with malicious intent.

  31. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Yep, "they can do it" is what people said when Sony f***ed over Star Wars Galaxies with the NGE, and we all know how that ended.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  32. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    While I appreciate your point and in some ways agree with it, this specific example does not make the organization hypocritical.  Altering the terms of service has always been reserved as the ECA’s right and I’ve never seen it say organizations should never do such a thing. 

    Still, I see what your saying. Based on Halpin’s quotes, one would think that the ECA’s own Terms of Service would be a shining example of how to do things.  Still, it’s not like one can’t cancel their membership and I haven’t seen evidence of anyone having trouble doing so by mailing in their request.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  33. 0
    Red_Flag says:

    Just saying "they can do it" does not make them any less hypocritical for doing so, especially since they are supposed to be a consumer advocacy organization.

  34. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Most of the people complaining probably signed up after those changes but even so, the ECA does reserve the right to alter the terms.

    And yes, that sucks.  I don’t like it either.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  35. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Bullshit. Everyone has something to hide. I don’t hardly want to open my closet door for fear of tumbling skeletons. "I have nothing to hide" is something which should only be said to an IRS auditor.

  36. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    No, I am not blindly defending anybody and I challenge you to muster up one single shred of evidence that would indicate I am.

    And I think you said "this article is biased by its silence."  Care to elaborate on that?  Because as it stands, it doesn’t make a lick of sense.  What exactly is this article not addressing that would indicate some improper bias?

     

    Andrew Eisen

  37. 0
    gamepolitics says:

    Just to be clear, because I have nothing to hide, I am still editor of the ECA Today newsletter.

    I am also an employee of the ECA. I have worked with Hal for the better part of 10 years.

    All that being said, we write about what we want to write about on here. I put the ECA response up yesterday unedited to avoid any possible complaints of "spin."


  38. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Before typing my response, but after hitting reply, I did a quick fact check to make sure GP was indeed the former EIC of ECA Today.  That’s what took the extra minute or two.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  39. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Yeah right. I managed to edit in a whole sentence in the time it took you to write 2 words? I don’t think so.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  40. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    I didn’t edit anything. GP locks you out of editing once a reply has been made, remember?

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  41. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    I don’t.  My reply was to your original post before you made the edit.  All you said was Pete Gallagher was the EIC of the ECA’s newsletter.  My response was "yeah, so?"  A perfectly resonable reply.  Since you’ve edited your original post with a bit more substance, I’ve responded in kind below.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  42. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    So, because GP was the former EIC of the ECA’s newsleter, that is indicative of the ECA having editorial control or influence over the content of GamePolitics?  Sorry, but that just doesn’t hold water.

    And who said the coverage had to be neutral?  GP can (and occasionally does) interject his opinion into stories.  When he does, it’s clearly marked as such.  Also, every ECA article fully discloses the releationship between the ECA and GamePolitics.  So, what’s the problem?  Does today’s story seem unfairly biased towards the ECA?  I don’t see how it could.  As you’ve said so yourself, it’s not much more that Halpin’s statement.  Were GP to go on and on about how the ECA is in the right and the users are the ones to blame and everyone should join the ECA and blah, blah, blah… then yeah, you’d have a point.

    At the end of the day, GP has editorial control over GamePolitics.  Now, you could say that GP’s history with the organization could color his reporting on it.  That would be fair.  But then, I’ve still seen no examples of GP’s affiliation with the ECA get in the way of his reporting on it so it doesn’t bother me.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  43. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    And you claimed you don’t blindly defend. lol.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  44. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    How about the fact Pete Gallagher is former editor-in-chief of ECA Today. I don’t know about you, but that screams "total neutrality" to me /sarcasm.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  45. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    What do you mean "the reason for this response"?  The issue is detailed at the Consumerist and linked at the top of this article.  Halpin’s response is provided in full.  That’s the story.

    "It’s also curious how Hal, and GPs copy + paste article fail to address the matter of peoples posts on the matter being wiped from the ECA forums. Possible censorship and cover-ups? Any journalist worth his salt would JUMP at a story like that."

    Has any journalist jumped on such a wildly speculative and sensational story?  IGN didn’t.  Joystiq didn’t.  Kotaku didn’t.  The Consumerist (again, linked at the top of this story) mentions a deleted post but doesn’t imply anything sinister.

    "Sure, the ECA might not have editorial control, but I’m betting they have a hell of a lot of influence."

    A couple readers have said something similar but none have come up with a shred of evidence to support it.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  46. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Which makes it all the more curious that GP never covered the REASON for this repsonse, and only posts a copy + paste from Hal.

    It’s also curious how Hal, and GPs copy + paste article fail to address the matter of peoples posts on the matter being wiped from the ECA forums. Possible censorship and cover-ups? Any journalist worth his salt would JUMP at a story like that.

    Sure, the ECA might not have editorial control, but I’m betting they have a hell of a lot of influence.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  47. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "This article says diffrently…"

    No it absolutely does not.  "A publication of" does not mean the ECA has editorial control of GamePolitics.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  48. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    This article says diffrently, if it was any other gamer org that tries to be consuemr friendly and talked about the evils of EULAs,TOS,ect then ironicly uses thier own to make it harder to cancel….sorry….. but this is just to clear……


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  49. 0
    sqlrob says:

    If the signup method isn’t the same, yes.

    If you sign up online, you should be able to cancel online.

     ETA: And they want a certified letter. There’s once a year I do that, my taxes.

  50. 0
    LAG - Law Abiding Gamer says:

    One letter is endless hurdles?  Not taking sides here, but this isn’t much of an argument IMHO.

    ***Homicide-free video gaming since 1972!***

  51. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    They only appear if you specifically save a line as part of your signature (like mine).

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  52. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Agreed the ECA was weak to start with tatics like this are not that shocking really, still all in all things have not went south yet….just on the bounderline where the echos of dueling banjos are not but on the rare wind that brings with it doom…..


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  53. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    I found reference to the code on an Escapist article while doing another Google news search and, at the time, decided to try to sign up.  After creating an account on the ECA main website, I never received the confirmation email, even when I logged in and selected to have the email resent.

    Eventually, I just gave up.  It was a low priority issue for me as signing up to be a full ECA member wasn’t that big of a deal for me.  So I never really follow up any further.

    To be honest, I feel I’m enough of a "member" to the ECA as the special offers that went along with being a full member weren’t that important to me.  I was more interested in the consumer advocacy and political side of the organization.  Though, to be honest, I felt the organization still a bit weak in that area as well.

    Nightwng2000

    NW2K Software

    http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000

    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  54. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Which, again, has what to do with the ECA?  I haven’t heard reports that the ECA was giving people guff when they try to cancel using the appropriate method.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  55. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    You can still cancel if you want.  Is it more inconvenient than it used to be?  Yes.  But, as the agreement says, the ECA can change it.  And it did.

    If you don’t agree to those terms, you shouldn’t give them your money.  That said, I don’t like the change either and would prefer an easier way to opt out of auto-renewals.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  56. 0
    Parallax Abstraction says:

    You can apply apologist political spin all you want but the fact is that this supposedly consumer friendly organisation is performing the exact kind of anti-consumer behaviour that they are supposed to be out against.  They made a screw-up in their sign up form by putting in an opt out option for auto-renewal that wasn’t supposed to be there but it’s our fault for not reading the EULA?  You know, the EULA of the type the organisation has repeatedly come out against?  I’m sorry, this is unaccaptable behaviour and to pull the woll over legitimate members eyes like this because some people were supposedly abusing the member benefits program is no excuse for this.  When they realised they screwed up the opt out option, they should have come out and explain it then, not when this happens to get press on The Consumerist.  And abuse of benefits or not, there’s no excuse for removing the phone number and requiring members to resort to snail mail to cancel.  We aren’t living 20 years ago and this organisation is supposed to represent modern consumers.

    I’m disgusted by the ECA’s handling of this matter and no longer have faith in the organisation.  I will be cancelling my membership and if I see another dime charged to my credit card, it will be contested.  I will also be advising every gaming community I participate in to avoid joining the ECA.  When a consumer focused organisation treats its customers worse than the industry it is supposed to be pushing our agenda towards, something is very wrong.

    Parallax Abstraction
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    blog.digital-lifeline.ca

  57. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    DarkSaber

     

    more like anyone who wants a refund is a slimily criminal. Tho ya know refunds for services like this is silly just make it so you can get out of it easy, screw the refund I do not want another AOL like setup >>


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  58. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Is it just me or are Hals comments reminiscent of software companies saying anyone who complains about DRM is probably a pirate?

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  59. 0
    Red_Flag says:

    Let’s talk about Section 5 of the current membership agreement. (http://www.theeca.com/terms)

    "5. Right to update Credit Card Account Information. If the credit card provided by Member to ECA has expired during an attempt to bill fees per section 4, ECA will revise the expiration date and proceed with billing using the same credit card account."

    I admit I am not aware of the legal status of such an activity, but wouldn’t a merchant keying in credit card data not directly authorized by the cardholder be in a very legally gray area? Even if the practice is legal (though morally bereft), I am curious how any banking/credit institutions would respond to reports of such activity on their cardholders’ accounts.

    But no matter the response from any party, such an activity is downright disturbing. The ECA is not an organization I would trust with my credit card information when they have specifically declared they would use it outside of the scope of the authorization originally given.

  60. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Its quite simple end this now and allow people to unjoin as easy as they can join…… if you don;t you have become just another group the BBB will start knocking points on…..


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  61. 0
    Red_Flag says:

    Oh, you mean the new terms. Not the original terms that people might have actually signed up under. (http://web.archive.org/web/20080403115308/www.theeca.com/terms). Need to be specific, donchaknow.

    You know it sure would be nice to have a consumer advocacy group that took a stand against abusive EULAs. I think there was once a president of an advocacy group that made statements to that effect… now who was it… some dude named Hal, I think.

    "The best intentions of lawyers in the business aside, these contracts have become so unwieldy that they regularly infringe on consumer rights. Many would likely be unenforceable in a court of law. Others, consumers would be shocked to find out what all of that fine print actually meant."

    http://www.gamepolitics.com/2008/03/22/eulas-out-control-says-eca039s-hal-halpin

    http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/features/guest-column-eula-hell/?biz

  62. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    That really has little to due with taking a fuctioning opt out/end renewal option from the web site. Spin it how you wish it still is poo and not clay.


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  63. 0
    PHX Corp says:

    Ok, now some gamers are turning into the Tea party Morons

    Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

  64. 0
    Red_Flag says:

    I had not yet joined the ECA, and I see that I was prudent to have not done so. I have only one thing to say about this situation though:
    Mr. Halpin, you are a hypocrite and a liar.

    You say, "due to a small but active number of members who were repeatedly joining, leaving and re-joining the organization – in an effort to exploit our member benefits and unduly take advantage of our partners’ generous offers – we would require a mailed letter, as per our membership agreement."

    As per your membership agreement?

    Your membership agreement now says, "Right to Cancel; Refund of ECA Service Fee. Members have the right to terminate this Agreement and membership in the ECA Service at any time. A Member may cancel this Agreement and membership in the ECA Service sending such request to Attn: Accounting, ECA, 64 Danbury Road, Suite 700, Wilton, CT 06897-4406."
    (http://www.theeca.com/terms)

    However, that was not always the case. As of April 2008, that section read "Right to Cancel; Refund of ECA Service Fee. Members have the right to terminate this Agreement and membership in the ECA Service at any time. A Member may cancel this Agreement and membership in the ECA Service by calling 1-203-761-6180."
    (http://web.archive.org/web/20080403115308/www.theeca.com/terms)

    Do not say that the requirement to mail a letter to cancel is "as per our membership agreement". Anyone who joined before those terms were changed unilaterally by the ECA did not agree to them and orginally agreed to terms that would have allowed them to cancel with a simple phone call.

    Does the ECA have the right to change the terms of the membership agreement without notice or cause? Of course, they reserved that right to themselves under the section headed "Membership Term; Renewals."

    But you, Mr. Halpin, came out against abusive EULAs and TOSs.

    You said, "EULAs are a real and tangible problem… Quite simply, they’re out of control… these contracts have become so unwieldy that they regularly infringe on consumer rights. Many would likely be unenforceable in a court of law. Others, consumers would be shocked to find out what all of that fine print actually meant."
    (http://www.gamepolitics.com/2008/03/22/eulas-out-control-says-eca039s-hal-halpin)

    Yes, Mr. Halpin, we are shocked by what all of that fine print actually meant. And the irony is not lost on us.
     

  65. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Pretty much…a shame too just goes to show being owned by the ECA was a bad move for GP, but I guess with dennis gone tis not GP anymore…..

     

    ============

    "inactive back-end feature became visible, which looked to give some members the option to opt-out of the association. We were alerted to the error and removed the non-functioning feature immediately. Because it was viewable and then removed, those same few members became concerned that it was a feature that had been live all along and was suddenly removed."

    =============

    Lie lie lie like the corperate dogs you are….. really guys….we are not that stupid…..


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  66. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    "GamePolitics is a publication of the ECA." and we have therefore been forbidden from injecting the article with any of the personality or opinion we would with any other article on the site.

    "inactive back-end feature became visible, which looked to give some members the option to opt-out of the association. We were alerted to the error and removed the non-functioning feature immediately. Because it was viewable and then removed, those same few members became concerned that it was a feature that had been live all along and was suddenly removed."

    So what you are saying is, giving members an option to opt-out was never something you intended to give? Smooth.

    ————————————————–

    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  67. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ya its a shame the ECA was already on shakey grounds due to thier clsoe ties with the indutry and now they jsut seem like another indutry based enitity that wants to keep itself going by making it hard to cancel. 

     

    It wwas easiy for me to cancel since I lost my Ccard and had to get it repalced…that and I am broke all the time 😛

     

    edit

    It’s also nice to see GP not comment on this…so much for having witt when they do not let you use it….


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  68. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    "which alleged that canceling membership in the organization was difficult and overcomplicated."

    No, sorry this is not alleged like it’s past or is nothing. This is a problem and is growing.

    The problem is the ECA made an offer with Amazon and other sites for gaming discounts and then they pulled those discounts and when people started canceling in amass they then removed the auto removal on their site and the option to phone in to cancel.

    I am surprised Game Politics has posted this, some of Hal’s postings in the forum have been deleted and some elitist comments have been posted. This is just a nail in the coffin for members and those thinking of joining the ECA and the actions and response of the ECA and undeniably stupid. Just go to the ECA and see the responses given by the Administers and Moderators.

    Would you really trust your billing information and information with a forum Nazi like that? Seriously, someone is going to take the heat and get fired this is not just on the Consumerist this story is everywhere and is growing and there might be an investigation with one or more Attorney Generals.

    The ECA is now throwing their Mandatory Arbitration clause around and not to mention to cancel they claim they still have the right to bill you as you mail in your cancellation request snail mail and if it isn’t correctly understand then the cancellation is refused.

    This sadly will get more attention then GameFAQs involved in covering up pedophile members and also a member who burned down a church “For the lulz” If any story needs to be reported it’s that but as well as this but man this is what happens when Forum Admin Nazi’s gain control of your credit card.

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