Citizens Advice Lancashire West is warning people about getting stuck with subscriptions after new research reveals people are wasting hundreds of pounds on them when they’re no longer wanted.
Analysis of 500 cases reported to the Citizens Advice consumer service between June and August 2017 finds people lost an average of £160 from subscriptions they wanted to cancel, but weren’t able to.
Citizens Advice Lancashire West is now sharing tips on how to avoid getting tied into a subscription and will be taking part in National Consumer Week – a campaign to help people understand their consumer rights which launches on Monday 27 November.
The analysis from national Citizens Advice reveals that companies can make it hard to cancel a subscription with 9 in 10 people prevented from doing so after initially asking. Common reasons for turning down a cancellation include being told to use a specific method, like the phone, or to give more than a month’s notice.
People also reported not being made aware they had signed up for a subscription in the first place, or that their contract would continue on an auto renewal basis.
With subscriptions now being offered across a range of goods and services, from beauty products to TV streaming, Citizens Advice Lancashire West is urging people to check the small print before they sign up to one.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, businesses can’t enforce terms on consumers that are unfair.
Diane Gradwell Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Lancashire West said:
“People can be made to feel like they’re going round in circles when trying to cancel a subscription.
“This research shows that companies are continuing to cash in on unwanted subscriptions by blocking people’s cancellation on the grounds of a technicality. It’s important for people to read any terms and conditions before signing up to a subscription, but they should also be on the lookout for companies who are deliberately throwing obstacles in their way when they try to cancel.
“Anyone who needs advice on how to cancel a subscription, or runs into difficulty doing so, should contact us for further help.”
Need to know tips about subscriptions
Check what your cancellation rights are
Each supplier can set their own cancellation policy and they don’t need to offer you a right to cancel your subscription early. Make sure the terms and conditions look reasonable before signing up.
Remember you’ve got a cooling off period if you buy online
If you bought the subscription online, the law says you usually have 14 days to get your money back if you change your mind. However, you might not be able to get a refund if you start using the service straight away.
Follow the cancellation policy
Make sure you follow the cancellation policy set out in your contract when you’re ready to end your subscription. Don’t stop your payment without checking what else is required first – otherwise your subscription may not be cancelled and you could be liable for any missed payments.
Challenge unfair T&Cs
There are no strict definitions for what counts as an unfair policy. But if you’re finding it tough or have to give a long period of notice to cancel a subscription, contact the supplier’s customer services department. If this fails go to the supplier’s trade or complaints body or report to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer service.