The government has announced that it will be cracking down on misleading consumer practices including subscription traps, where people pay subscriptions they aren’t aware they’ve agreed to. A report from Citizens Advice last year found as many as 2 million people struggle to cancel continuous payments – often used for buying products online – and 4 in 5 people had issues cancelling after being signed up without their knowledge.
Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said: “Subscription traps are taking hundreds of pounds from people’s bank accounts without their permission. From beauty treatments to gym contracts – consumers are signing up to free trials or one-off discounts only to find that money is then taken from their account each month. We helped one person who lost £150 after applying for a free trial of slimming pills. he government’s plan to make sure people are told if a payment is due to be taken will give consumers the opportunity to put a stop to it – so they can make sure their money stays in their bank account.”
“Subscription traps are one of the many nasty surprises that can be hidden in the small print. Firms are bamboozling consumers with lengthy terms and conditions and complicated clauses making it really difficult for people to know what they’re signing up to. The government’s welcome clamp down in this area will help people know where they stand and challenge unfair practices.”
Citizens Advice has been calling for action on subscription traps for some time, with its report last year ‘Locked In: consumer issues with subscription traps’ recommending that customers are notified when a recurring payment is taken.