The Roach Motel dark pattern is a common tactic to make it harder for users to cancel their subscription. HelloFresh uses this strategy to lower their cancellation rates. However, those who fail to cancel now will likely try again when the charge appears next month.

HelloFresh status card to begin cancellation process

The cancellation journey begins at the end of the account settings page. At first glance, the option to pause deliveries is more prominently displayed than the option to cancel the plan, a subtle use of misdirection dark pattern. This design choice encourages users to consider pausing rather than canceling their subscription outright.

HelloFresh before you decided to cancel
HelloFresh before you decided to cancel scrolled down

When a user clicks on "Cancel my plan," they're taken to a new screen filled with options to retain the subscription. Here, the "Skip and keep benefits" button is highlighted in green, drawing attention away from the less prominent "Cancel anyway" button.

Another trick they use is placing the secondary "Cancel anyway" button below the fold, creating the illusion that the "Skip and keep benefits" button is the only option on the page.

This step is designed to make users think twice about canceling and consider the benefits of staying with the service.

HelloFresh user feedback screen
HelloFresh pick the cancel reason

After navigating past the initial hurdle, users face another step that asks for feedback on why they are canceling. This screen offers several reasons, such as budget constraints or switching to another service. Each selection triggers additional offers or solutions tailored to the user's reason, further complicating the cancellation process.

HelloFresh last cancellation screen

The third step in the cancellation process varies based on the user's reason for canceling on the previous page. For instance, if a user selects "There is too much packaging" as their reason, they are presented with a screen that emphasizes HelloFresh's sustainability efforts. The company highlights its reduction in packaging waste and contribution to a greener future, aiming to appeal to environmentally conscious customers. The primary action button on this screen is "I'll stay," subtly suggesting that canceling might not be the eco-friendly choice.

In other scenarios, users might see different messages or offers based on their selected reason for canceling. For example, if the reason is "It is out of my budget," the screen might highlight available discounts or cost-saving tips. This tailored approach is designed to address specific concerns and convince users to reconsider their decision.

HelloFresh subscription cancelled

Finally, after navigating through all the steps, users reach the confirmation page with canceled subscription. This screen confirms that the subscription has been canceled, but not before offering one last chance to reconsider with a prominent "I didn't mean to cancel" button.

HelloFresh's use of the Roach Motel dark pattern makes the cancellation process tedious and frustrating. While these tactics might reduce immediate cancellation rates, they risk the company's reputation. Users who feel manipulated are likely to try canceling again when the next charge appears, leading to negative user experiences and potential loss of trust in the brand. Transparent and user-friendly practices would foster better customer relationships and long-term loyalty.