Caught in a trap? Millions still unclear about what they sign up for

Have you ever been locked into a subscription for an offering you didn’t sign up for? Or maybe you know someone else who has?

It’s estimated that two million people across the UK still experience issues cancelling regular subscription payments that they didn’t even realise they had authorised.

Now to help with the issue two online video animations have been launched as part of this years’ National Consumer Week which London Trading Standards are supporting.

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

Also targeted are financial institutions. If consumers find themselves caught in a subscription trap then banks also need to be aware of their responsibilities to customers struggling with subscription issues.

The second animation gives practical consumer advice and encourages them to think before they sign and not be tempted by free trial offers.

The videos are produced alongside Business Companion, and discuss subscription periods, renewal schedules and total monthly costs, as well as continued payment authorities.

Subscription issues can include signing up for a fixed term deal, trial, or promotion where it is unclear that the consumer will be auto-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.

Steve Playle – Spokesperson for London Trading Standards said:

“Trading standards teams across the capital 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.”

CTSI Chief Executive, Leon Livermore, a strong supporter of National Consumer Week said:

“Raising awareness of the issues facing consumers is key to tackling consumer detriment. 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.”

You can follow National Consumer Week updates on Twitter using #BeforeYouSign and #NCW17.

Further information

  • The business advice video can be watched here
  • The banks and consumer advice video can be watched here
  • Business Companion is a free government backed business advice website, offering important, up-to-date consumer law information accessible to all
  • National Consumer Week is an annual educational campaign is run by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) which includes Citizens Advice
  • National Consumer Week 2017 runs from Monday 27th November to Sunday 3rd December.