Categories
Latest News Laws ways to save money

Think before you sign – top 10 tips to save on subscriptions

How to save money  on subscriptions

Don’t fritter away your hard-earned money on unwanted subscriptions

top 10 tips for savings on subscriptions with picture of contract

In November 2017, Citizens Advice research revealed that in just three months consumers spent an average of £160 on unwanted subscriptions, including gym memberships, television and online streaming services. The consumer organisation also found that between June and August 2017, 9 out of 10 people were initially refused by companies when cancellation of an unwanted subscription was requested.

 

So what are your rights and the best ways to deal with these subscriptions? Here are my top 10 tips.

10 top tips to not pay for subscriptions

Look out for the subscription traps

1) Be aware of the “free” and very cheap trials of subscriptions. Most, if not all, will ask for payment information when you sign up. Set yourself a reminder to cancel a day before the first payment is due.

2) Check the cancellation rights before signing up to anything but be aware that you may still be able to challenge these in certain circumstances.

3) Check that the site is genuine. The website address should begin with “https”, have a padlock symbol, a full correspondence address (not a PO box number) and any trade logos should be genuine. Also, search the Internet for reviews and check for warning signs like lots of grammatical errors or a domain name that uses a well-known brand/product but isn’t the official website or ends in .net or .org as these are rarely used for online shopping sites. You can also check who registered the domain via the com website.

Consumer laws and regulations covering subscription terms and conditions

4) Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, you are entitled to a 14 day “cooling off” period, so if you have signed up to something off premises (e.g. online) you can cancel with no penalty.

5) Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, consumers are protected from unfair contracts. So, for example, if a company says that you must give 6 months’ notice to cancel a subscription, that would be unfair.

6) The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 state that companies must provide accurate and sufficient information for consumers to make a purchasing decision. For a practice to be unfair under these rules, they must harm, or be likely to harm, the economic interests of the average consumer. For example, when a shopper makes a purchasing decision he or she would not have made had he or she been given accurate information.

Use direct debit for subscriptions

7) If you are going to sign up to a subscription, try and use Direct Debit where possible. With Direct Debit, a company cannot change the regular payment amount unless it give you notice of how and when it will take it. This notice is usually 10 working days. Using a debit card or credit card is known as a Continuous Payment Authority which can be of varying amounts which can be changed without your consent.

8) When you cancel with the company, also inform your bank to ensure that the subscription payment is cancelled. You will then also be covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee, which ensures a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society if a mistake is made.

Cancel subscriptions

9) If you want to cancel, do so quickly and in writing so you have evidence. If you are prepared to discuss the matter because you want to haggle for example, telephone helpline numbers cannot cost the consumer more than the basic rate, so no 084 and 087 numbers. If companies do use these then they are in breach of the The Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and Ofcom regulations.

10) When writing to cancel, provide all details of the policy/memberships etc., dates of subscriptions and request that the cancellation is made with immediate effect. Name the laws above and describe how the company is in breach, if relevant.

Government plans to make changes around subscription laws

On 20 June 2021 the Government finally published its consumer paper for consultation. It is titled Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy. The closing date for responses is 11.45am on 1 October 2021.

My response can be found here.

Further help complaining about subscriptions and terms and conditions

More at How to challenge terms & conditions (even those you’ve agreed)

Discussing terms and conditions your rights on The One Show

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

If you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

 

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer to help you become more skilled and assertive when making complaints

 

 

The Complaining Cow logo download templates

 

Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress

 

 

 

 

Categories
Companies customer service

6 facts you should know about direct debits

You have rights with your Direct Debit.

coins

Monitoring and security of your direct debit

Your bank or building society monitors and protects the efficiency and security of your direct debit. Those using the system go through a careful vetting process before they’re authorised, and are closely monitored by the banking industry. The efficiency and security of direct debit is monitored and protected by your own bank or building society.

Notifying you of changes to your direct debit

If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit the organisation will notify you (normally 10 working days) in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request the organisation to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request.

Direct Debit Guarantee

If a mistake is made with your direct debit you are covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee. If any incorrect or fraudulent payments are made you are entitled to a full and immediate refund from your bank.

Bank’s direct debit error

If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by the organisation or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society.

Receiving a Direct Debit refund incorrectly

If you receive a refund to which you are not entitled, you must pay it back when the organisation asks.

Direct Debit guarantee fobs off from banks and building societies

According to the Financial Ombudsman, common fob offs made by banks and building societies when a direct debit is wrongly paid are; “The customer didn’t give enough notice”, “We don’t operate the direct debit guarantee”, “You’ll have to contact the originating company for a refund” and “The guarantee doesn’t apply – because you haven’t suffered a loss”. None of these are correct and if you don’t  receive a refund take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman.

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

For masses of information, tips, guidance, laws and regulations and templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

Want to get better at complaining? See 101 Habits of an Effective Complainer

 

 

 

 

The Complaining Cow logo download templates

Purchase downloadable templates to gain that redress simply and swiftly for various sectors