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Consumers warned about subscription services

07 December 2017

Have you ever been tempted by a free trial and then ended up being locked into a subscription you didn’t sign up for? You’re not alone.

An estimated two million people across the UK have problems cancelling monthly payments for unwanted subscription services, and the issue is being reported locally too.

Shared Regulatory Services (SRS), the body responsible for Trading Standards across Bridgend County Borough, has been receiving complaints from local residents who have been misled by the nature of subscription services and left paying out big sums.

One of the main pitfalls consumers experience is not realising that after an initial 14 day cooling-off period they’ll be set up for a continuous payment authority and a high monthly fee will be taken from their bank account. It can take several months for people to identify these payments on their bank statements.

Other consumers are confused by what product or service is actually being offered as sales calls can involve a lot of information being provided very quickly.

Consumers are often cold called by telephone, not realising they’ve previously consented to their details being shared with third parties.

Subscription scams of this nature can involve businesses:

•  Requesting a small payment of £1 or £2 to cover postage and packing of the free trial ‘pack’.

•  Not providing the paperwork within the free trial period.

•  Not cancelling the contract as requested within the 14 day cooling-off period.

•  Delaying in providing refunds.

Chair of the Joint Committee for Shared Regulatory Services, Councillor Dhanisha Patel, said: “We’re pleased to support the National Consumer Week campaign and raise awareness of this issue due to the complaints received by local residents.

“When you sign up for an offer you can end up making regular payments after it finishes, and it’s not always easy to tell when you’re agreeing to a subscription. When left unmonitored, consumers can get into debt as a result.

“As well as ensuring business’ terms and conditions are clear and transparent, we want to protect consumers, especially those deemed vulnerable, from these unscrupulous trading practices. We urge anyone who has had a bad experience with a subscription service to let us know about it as soon as possible.”

To report an issue of this nature or to receive advice on your legal rights, call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.

Last Updated: 11/12/2017
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