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Government crackdown on subscription traps will help stop consumers from losing money, says Citizens Advice

4 March 2017

Government crackdown on subscription traps will help stop consumers from losing money, says Citizens Advice

Today (Saturday 4 March) the government has announced that it will be cracking down on misleading consumer practices including subscription traps, where people pay subscriptions they aren’t aware they’ve agreed to.

A report from Citizens Advice last year found as many as 2 million people struggle to cancel continuous payments - often used for buying products online - and 4 in 5 people had issues cancelling after being signed up without their knowledge.

In response to the announcement, Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“Subscription traps are taking hundreds of pounds from people’s bank accounts without their permission.

“From beauty treatments to gym contracts - consumers are signing up to free trials or one-off discounts only to find that money is then taken from their account each month. We helped one person who lost £150 after applying for a free trial of slimming pills.  

“The government’s plan to make sure people are told if a payment is due to be taken will give consumers the opportunity to put a stop to it - so they can make sure their money stays in their bank account.  

“Subscription traps are one of the many nasty surprises that can be hidden in the small print.  Firms are bamboozling consumers with lengthy terms and conditions and complicated clauses making it really difficult for people to know what they’re signing up to.  The government’s welcome clamp down in this area will help people know where they stand and challenge unfair practices.”

Citizens Advice has been calling for action on subscription traps for some time, with its report last year ‘Locked In: consumer issues with subscription traps’ recommending that customers are notified when a recurring payment is taken.  

For more information contact: press.office@citizensadvice.org.uk

Out-of-hours contact number: 0845 099 0107

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.