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How should an application behave when a user triggers his accounts deletion while having an active paid subscription?

I'm talking about completely deleting the account, not pausing a subscription.

For data privacy reasons I think that the user should be able to have his/her data deleted as soon as possible. But how to handle this if the account is for example in the middle of the billing period?

Is it ok to inform the user that the account will stay active until the end of the billing period and the data will be deleted automatically at the end? Wouldn't that be too long with a yearly subscription? Is it in general acceptable to keep the user data a bit longer than the moment where the user triggered the deletion?

Or should the account with all related data be deleted immediately, despite the fact that the user already paid for a full year?

I'm also not sure how this should be handled from a legal point of view, need to investigate this next.

That has for sure been solved a billion times but I can't get my head around how to handle this scenario the most correct way.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thx

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  • What jurisdiction? Does GDPR apply? Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 16:51
  • @AndrewLeach we're located in Switzerland, but targeting an international customer base. Yes, GDPR will apply. Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 19:46

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This problem probably will need a lawyer to be answered fully, but in general:

  • If a user wants out, let them out. This means clear pathways and buttons, and no "you have to talk to support to be allowed to delete the account" or "your account will get deleted whenever it's convenient for us".
  • If a user will lose access to something, let them know the consequences of their actions. This means "you will lose access to xyz" and "the following data will be deleted"-type information. It can be helpful to ensure the user actually is reading this information by having them check each item on the list, or have them type out "delete ".
  • For particularly expensive subscriptions, can be useful from a user experience standpoint to offer partial refunds upon cancellation (though not necessarily from a business standpoint).
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  • Hey thx for your answer. I think your first remark "If a user wants out, let them out" brings it to the point. I'll probably just let them delete immediately without retaining any data. The customers pay upfront for the billing period, so the plan (using Stripe )will just be directly canceled (by deleting the Stripe customer) and end at automatically at the end of the period. That's the most straight forward way to do it. Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 19:52
  • @GetterJetter make sure to add a lot of friction though. Not because the business wants it, but because the user might make a mistake. They have to be absolutely sure that they want to delete the account, for example by having them type in their name under a formal-looking numbered list of items that will be lost. Commented Aug 22, 2023 at 3:00
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    @ArkanTanriwa yes, I already implemented it now, by explaining that this action is not reversible, listed the services the user will lose, displayed alternative actions to pause or downgrade plan and added a pwd input to confirm the account deletion. Thank you Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 7:39
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I think the account should be deleted after the subscription is over. And for that time the account should be inactive or like not visible if it's some kind of social media or something. You can add this "account deletion after subscription period is over" or something similar in your terms & conditions or policy while user onboarding or sign-up.

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  • Hey, thx for your answer. What's the advantage to keep the account alive until the period is over? I'ts a B2B SAAS application. Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 19:54

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