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Be in the know…..Subscription traps

South Gloucestershire Trading Standards - 4th June 2015

Get Safe Online and Trading Standards are warning consumers to be wary of subscription traps. Subscription traps take place when you sign up online or on the phone for free or low-cost trials of products, only to find that you have been unwittingly locked into costly repeat payments. Typically, these products are slimming pills, health foods and anti-aging products.

Many taking advantage of these offers find that it ends up costing them hundreds or even thousands of pounds, without being able to cancel the agreement or stop payments being taken from your account.

Subscription traps exploit a ‘continuous payment authority’, normally by requesting your payment card details as proof of identity and age, then retaining those details to draw monthly payments from your account. Details of this ongoing commitment are generally buried in the terms & conditions and are missed by many people, eager instead to take advantage of the ‘fantastic offer’ being advertised.

The advice being offered by Get Safe Online to avoid subscription traps includes;

  • Read the small print (terms & conditions) carefully before entering into any agreement or making a purchase, however long this may take.
  • Make sure the terms & conditions box has not been pre-ticked.
  • If you make a purchase of this kind that gives you a limited timescale to cancel the agreement, make sure you do so before the due date.
  • Never provide bank details to companies without doing some prior research beforehand.
  • Check your bank/payment card statements regularly for unexpected payments.

For further advice on this or any other consumer issue, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm).