Have you ever been locked into a subscription for something you didn’t mean to sign up for? Perhaps you are having problems cancelling a subscription you can’t afford to continue with? If so, you are not alone - millions of people across the UK experience similar problems.

National Consumer Week

National Consumer Week 2017That’s why National Consumer Week this year is focusing on subscription issues and traps. With the rise of subscription services available to consumers, Midlothian Council Trading Standards and Citizens Advice are warning consumers that while it may be easy to sign up for these services, they can be difficult to get out of.


Subscription issues can include signing up for a fixed term deal, trial or promotion where it is unclear that you will be auto-enrolled into ongoing payments. The National Consumer Week campaign slogan is #BeforeYouSign which highlights that people should double check what they are  signing up for online and know how they can get their money back if they sign up to something they were not expecting.

Useful advice

  • Make sure you know what you are signing up for
  • Always check you are dealing with a genuine company.
  • Read the terms and conditions.
  • Check how you will be paying. Direct debit is usually the best way to pay because it means the company have to ask if they want to change the amount of money they take from your account. If you pay by credit or debit card, they’ll be able to change the amount of money they take without asking you.
  • Remember you have a 14 day ‘cooling-off period’ after you receive the first item or sign up for the service. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, businesses can’t enforce terms on consumers that are unfair.
  • The Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 can help you to cancel your subscription if you are struggling.

Unfair practices

Cllr Russell Imrie, Midlothian’s cabinet member with responsibility for Trading Standards said: “Many people sign up for subscriptions for things like gym memberships, health or beauty products, streaming services or magazine subscriptions. Subscriptions are easy to sign up to but can be difficult to get out of. Businesses must follow a strict set of laws designed to protect consumers from unfair practices, but unfortunately some businesses instead choose to operate in underhand ways. There is plenty of advice out there to help consumers not get caught out and I would urge people to check it out.”

More advice

National Consumer Week runs until 3 December.


28 Nov 2017