Entertainment Consumers Association recently partnered with a few online retailers to offer its members some nice deals on video games, including a pretty sweet discount on purchases from Amazon. To accompany these offers, the ECA had its own spectacular deal: One free year of membership, which would normally cost $19.99. All applicants had to do was provide their credit card information, sign up and enjoy the discounts that were being passed along to ECA members.
Sadly, this is where the idyllic tale begins to go south. Shortly after the ECA began offering the free year of membership, the Amazon offer mysteriously disappeared. This drew the ire of the group's new members, but would be quickly forgotten when the option to cancel the auto-renewal of the membership fee, through the ECA's website, also vanished without a trace. An ECA forum moderator explained the option only appeared "for some browsers, but it wasn't intended to be there, wasn't a working option and was removed as soon as we became aware."
Now, users who were drawn in by these discounts can only cancel their memberships (and subsequent annual $20 fees) by sending a letter directly to the ECA's accounting department (the address is posted after the jump). What's worse, those who canceled their auto-renewal plans with the temporarily available online option could still be locked into the annual fee, if the moderator's claim that it "wasn't a working option" is accurate. We've contacted the ECA to find out if anything is being done to inform these honorable, due-paying members that they're still, you know, due-paying members.
Update: ECA president Hal Halpin issued a statement in response to the complaints, the full transcript for which can be found after the jump. He explains that the Amazon deal was taken down due to an exploit the ECA's new members found within the offer. He adds that simultaneously, the ECA updated its site as part of a "long planned for Content Management System upgrade," at which point they found a non-functioning feature which "looked to give some members the option to opt-out of the association." The option, which Halpin claims was never functional, was quickly removed.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]