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National Consumer Week 2017

This year’s National Consumer Week launches on Monday 27th November (Cyber Monday)

The theme of this campaign will be issues with subscriptions and subscription traps. Tying into the Cyber Monday launch, there will be a particular focus on online subscription issues.


Not what you signed up for?

Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular for all types of consumers across the UK. With the demand for quick and easy online purchases growing, so is the risk for consumers who often don’t understand exactly what it is they are purchasing or signing up for online.

An analysis of cases to our UK-wide Consumer Helpline has highlighted a variety of issues consumers were facing with subscriptions and subscription traps. The issues range from being refused cancellation of a subscription to ordering a free beauty sample of a product to later find out money has been unexpectedly been withdrawn from their bank account.

People are entering into contracts for subscriptions without understanding companies varying terms and conditions to cancel. Through the Consumer Service analysis we have discovered that 71% of those affected by subscription traps are women, the highest proportion of those are in the 50-64 age bracket.

What are subscription issues and traps?

Subscription issues can include: signing up for a fixed term deal, trial or promotion and it not being made clear (or consumer forgetting) that they will be auto-enrolled into on-going payments. Consumers often sign up for subscriptions unwittingly and can face problems cancelling in future.

Subscription traps are a more deliberately misleading practice, which usually involve the company involved using deceptive language and misleading terms and conditions.  With traps, products are usually advertised as free samples, where the consumer is asked to pay for postage and packing. 

Why are we running this campaign?

As a consumer, it’s not always easy to tell when you’re agreeing to a subscription. Sometimes they’re called something else, a free trial, limited offer or sample. During this national awareness campaign we hope to educate consumers about the risks they face when not knowing or understanding exactly what they are signing up for online and how to avoid the unexpected.

Get Smart on Subscriptions

Check out our top tips on how to safe online and get smart on subscriptions: Top tips to help you understand subscriptions.

It’s important to know your rights as a consumer and understand exactly what you are signing up to online before entering into a subscription.

How you can get involved?

If you would like to get involved with the National Consumer Week 2017 – Not what you signed up for? – campaign; there are a number of things you can do: