Don’t fall into the subscription trap

Have you ever been locked into a subscription for an offer you did not sign up for? You are not alone.

An estimated two million people across the UK still experience difficulties cancelling payments for subscriptions they haven’t authorised.

An estimated two million people across the UK still experience difficulties cancelling payments for subscriptions they haven’t authorised.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has, as part of National Consumer Week and in conjunction with the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP), released two video guides for consumers, businesses and financial institutions on subscription issues.

The first animation is aimed at businesses who offer subscriptions to their customers. Whether selling gym memberships, health or beauty products, streaming services or periodic subscriptions, all businesses must follow a strict set of laws designed to protect consumers from unfair practices.

The second gives practical advice for consumers to make them think before they sign and not be tempted by free trial offers. If consumers find themselves caught in a trap, then banks need to be aware of their responsibilities to customers struggling with subscription issues.

The animations highlight important issues faced by UK consumers and provide advice on legal obligations for businesses. The videos are produced alongside Business Companion, a free Government-backed business advice website offering up-to-date consumer law information. Visit www.businesscompanion.info

Councillor Andrew Lee, North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Trading Standards, said: “Our trading standards teams are keen to help banks and financial institutions ensure their customers are protected from subscriptions issues.

“Continued payment authorities can cause serious debt problems for consumers when left unmonitored and we hope businesses ensure their terms and conditions are clear and transparent.”

The CTSI Chief Executive, Leon Livermore, is a strong supporter of National Consumer Week. He said: “National Consumer Week offers trading standards the chance to actively engage with consumers on a local and national level on the big issues that can affect millions.”

National Consumer Week is an annual consumer education campaign coordinated by Citizens’ Advice and other members of the CPP, with this year’s campaign focusing on subscription issues and subscription traps. Subscription issues can include signing up for a fixed-term deal, trial, or promotion where it is unclear that the consumer will automatically be enrolled into ongoing payments.

Consumers often sign up for subscriptions unwittingly and can face problems cancelling future payments. In comparison, subscription traps are deliberately misleading practices, where the company involved uses deceptive language and misleading terms and conditions.

For more information on National Consumer Week, visit www.tradingstandards.uk/ncw17 and follow updates on Twitter using #BeforeYouSign and #NCW17.

This story was published 28 November 2017