Millions still unclear about what they sign up for

Have you or anyone you know ever been locked into a subscription for an offering you didn’t sign up for? You are not alone.

An estimated two million people across the UK still experience issues cancelling recurring payments for subscriptions without their apparent authorisation.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has released, as part of the annual National Consumer Week and in conjunction with the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP), two video animation 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 animation 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 provides advice on legal obligations to businesses. The videos are produced alongside Business Companion, and discuss subscription periods, renewal schedules and total monthly costs, as well as continued payment authorities. Business Companion is a free government backed business advice website, offering important, up-to-date consumer law information accessible to all. For more business-facing advice, visit www.businesscompanion.info.

Jim McMahon, East Ayrshire Council Cabinet Member for Older People and Community Safety, said: “Our trading standards team are keen to help banks and financial institutions ensure their customers are protected from subscription 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, is a strong supporter of National Consumer Week. He 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.”

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 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.

If you have been affected by any of these issues you can contact our Trading Standards Team on 01563 576602, email trading.standards@east-ayrshire.gov.uk, or call in at 16 John Dickie Street, Kilmarnock, KA1 1HW.

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

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