Consumer week focuses on supporting people locked into unwanted subscriptions

27 November 2017

People locked into paying for a service they don't want are the target of support during this year's National Consumer Week.

An estimated two million people across the UK have problems cancelling recurring payments for something they didn't think they had signed up for.

We're backing National Consumer Week, which starts today (Monday 27 November 2017), and highlights the problem of free trial offers that then lock people into paying continuing subscriptions.

Councillor Carol Hart, Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, said:

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

"Our trading standards team is keen to help banks and financial institutions ensure their customers are protected from subscriptions issues."

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) have released two animated guides for consumers, businesses and banks.

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

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

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

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.

Visit the Trading Standards website to watch the videos and find out more about National Consumer Week (opens in a new window).

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

For more advice visit Citizens Advice consumer service (opens in a new window) or tel: 03454 040506.

To report a fraud visit the Action Fraud website (opens in a new window) or tel: 0300 123 2040.

National Consumer Week runs from Monday 27 November to Sunday 3 December 2017.