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It’s Time to Audit Your Autopay Subscriptions

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Illustration for article titled Its Time to Audit Your Autopay Subscriptions

Photo: Manuel Esteban (Shutterstock)

How many subscription services do you pay for? A study by the tech consulting firm West Monroe found that the average American spends $237 a month on autopay subscriptions, or $2,844 for the year, and most of them underestimate what they think they owe. If you’re not sure what you’re spending, it’s time to audit your subscriptions.

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Separate perception from reality 

There’s a reason why auto-renewal subscription payments are referred to as “evergreen.” At the end of either a monthly or annual subscription term, these services renew automatically unless you choose to cancel. Of course, this is why they’re so hard to track. If you stop using the service, you tend to forget the service exists and not notice the charges adding up. As an example, 84% of respondents in the West Monroe survey underestimated their subscription expenses, with 51% getting it wrong by $100 or more.

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That seems crazy until you think about the proliferation of subscription services in recent years, across all sorts of categories: food boxes, gaming, fitness apps, media, dating apps, cloud storage… the list goes on. With TV and movie subscriptions alone, who can keep track? As an example, try scrolling to the end of this Flixed post listing all known streaming services available in the US.

Throw in free trials, too. You may have planned to cancel a trial before it expired (say, Disney+ once you finished The Mandalorian), but you forgot that, too. Don’t forget about the increases to your existing subscription prices that you likely missed, as well—it all adds up.

How to audit your subscriptions

The first step is to identify recurring charges in your credit card, debit card, or online banking accounts. Set aside an hour to list all of your monthly and annual subscription expenses for the past year. Don’t recognize a few of them? Or maybe there’s a service you like but rarely use? Go ahead and cancel those. Create a calendar reminder for yourself to do this every month or so if you really want to stay on top of it.

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Another quick option is to check your iPhone settings for unwanted apps you might be paying for as well. And there are dedicated subscription tracking services found on apps, too, like TrueBill, Bobby, Subscro and others. These apps connect to your bank accounts and automatically identify your subscription services, which you can then track on a custom dashboard. But remember that many of these apps are tiered and additional services might charge you a monthly fee, which makes them… yet another autopay subscription service.

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Eric Schmidt, who bought YouTube for a premium, thinks social networks are ‘amplifiers for idiots’

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The Verge used to have a fine tradition of cataloging all of the times when Eric Schmidt stuck his foot in his mouth, and today’s feels like a worthy addition: the former Google CEO and executive chairman has decided that social networks are “amplifiers for idiots.”

The fuller quote, according to Bloomberg: “The context of social networks serving as amplifiers for idiots and crazy people is not what we intended.”

Without knowing who “we” refers to, you might think he’s talking about how the entire tech industry has failed to keep sites like Facebook and Twitter from creating echo chambers and polarizing politics around the world (though some argue we can’t blame social networks alone).

He’s certainly a member of the tech elite, one who had the ear of many other CEOs and even engaged in some extremely shady dealings that way.

But you may recall that Schmidt also personally controlled one of the biggest social networks for many years: YouTube. He presided over the $1.65 billion buyout in 2006 and did it precisely in his role as a visionary, paying as much as $1 billion more than he thought it was worth at the time. He then stayed on as Google’s CEO until 2011 and was Alphabet’s executive chairman until early 2018.

This year, YouTube finally revealed it makes $15 billion a year, so perhaps the purchase has now been justified on purely financial terms. Societally, however, it sounds more like he’s apologizing that the golden age of YouTube is over. It’s “not what we intended.”

Schmidt was also asked about the landmark antitrust case Google’s currently facing down with the Department of Justice, and Bloomberg has this gem of a quote:

“I would be careful about these dominance arguments. I just don’t agree with them,” Schmidt said. “Google’s market share is not 100%.”

I guess antitrust only kicks in once you’ve locked out every competitor and now serve literally every human being on earth?

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Daily Crunch: Quibi is shutting down

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The end is in sight for Quibi, PayPal adds cryptocurrency support and Netflix tests a new promotional strategy. This is your Daily Crunch for October 21, 2020.

The big story: Quibi might be shutting down

The much-hyped streaming video app led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, which raised nearly $2 billion in funding, is shutting down, according to reports in The Information and The Wall Street Journal.

Katzenberg, a longtime Hollywood executive, had blamed the coronavirus pandemic for a lackluster launch in May — an app designed for on-the-go viewing didn’t have much appeal when people were largely stuck at home. And whatever the reason, none of Quibi’s shows ever became a breakout hit.

Quibi executives confirmed the news in a post on Medium.

The tech giants

PayPal to let you buy and sell cryptocurrencies in the US — In partnership with Paxos, PayPal plans to support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin at first.

Facebook is working on Neighborhoods, a Nextdoor clone based on local groups — Facebook said that Neighborhoods currently is live only in Calgary, Canada.

Netflix to test free weekend-long access in India — The streaming service recently stopped offering a month of complimentary access to new users in the United States.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Syte, an e-commerce visual search platform, gets $30M Series C to expand in the US and Asia — Launched in 2015 to focus on visual search for clothing, Syte’s technology now covers other verticals, like jewelry and home decor.

June’s third-gen smart oven goes up for pre-order, starting at $599 — It’s been two years since the smart oven’s last major update.

Mine raises $9.5M to help people take control of their personal data — Mine scans users’ inboxes to help them understand who has access to their personal data.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Founders don’t need to be full-time to start raising venture capital — John Vrionis and Sarah Leary of Unusual Ventures told us that lightweight investing matters in the early days of a company.

Dear Sophie: What visa options exist for a grad co-founding a startup? — The latest edition of immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn’s column answering immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.

Lessons from Datto’s IPO pricing and revenue multiple — How do you value slower, more profitable software growth?

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Sam’s Club will deploy autonomous floor-scrubbing robots in all of its US locations — Sam’s Club parent company Walmart is already using robotics to perform inventory in its own stores.

AOC’s Among Us stream topped 435,000 concurrent viewers — The purpose of the stream, which drew a massive crowd, was to get out the vote as we head into the general election.

Coalition for App Fairness, a group fighting for app store reforms, adds 20 new partners — The coalition claims that both Apple and Google engage in anti-competitive behavior.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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4 quick bites and obituaries on Quibi (RIP 2020-2020)

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A new entry in the greatest collapses of startups ever

In memory of the death of Quibi, here’s a quick sendoff from three of our writers who came together to discuss what we can learn from Quibi’s amazing, instantaneous, billions-of-dollars failure.

Lucas Matney looks at what the potential was for Quibi and how it missed the mark in media. Danny Crichton discusses why billions of dollars in VC funding isn’t enough in competitive markets like video. Anthony Ha discusses the crazy context of Quibi and our interview with the company earlier this year. And Brian Heater looks at why constraints are not benefits in new products.

A Deadpool company before it was even launched by Lucas Matney

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