How to avoid unnecessary subscription bills
Updated: Sep 11
Every year millions of people in the UK have problems cancelling their subscriptions, If this has ever happened to you read on!
At ScribePay our primary research highlighted many issues with current subscription plans. The most commonly reported problems are being “lured in” to sign up for a free sample product, without clear terms around the end of the trial. Secondly knowingly signing up for a service but for one reason or another, never using that service i.e. Gym memberships or kids streaming services.
In all these scenarios the unifying issue is how it is disproportionately easy is to sign up compared to cancelling subscription content. On average we found it takes less than three minutes to sign up for a subscription, but over 45 minutes to cancel and in some cases even days.
How do you take control?
Firstly, you must read the terms and conditions especially if it is a free sample or trial product. Remember, you always have the legal right to cancel an unwanted subscription, but often vendors make this difficult. Don’t disrepair, there are strict consumer rights and legislations in place to help you get out of a subscription traps. For example, according to the “consumer contract regulations” of June 2014 - consumers need to tick the box that agrees to any future payments and if they are not aware of these charges, they are not liable for them.
If you want to cancel, the first step is to contact the retailer to request cancellation of the service. If you paid with Scribepay, you could simply log into the app and freeze the subscription or swipe to cancel.
How do you prevent future subscription problems?
1. When possible, pay with Direct Debit
Unfortunately most online subscriptions services don’t accept Direct debit, preferring credit card or debit card instead. A Direct Debit is much easier to cancel than a recurring payment on a credit or debit card as It’s handled by the banks. See our article about direct debits and recurring payments here. The Direct Debit Guarantee also means that if you make an incorrect payment your bank must refund you the full amount.
2. Pay with ScribePay
ScribePay issues virtual cards to pay for all your subscriptions. These card can be either single use or multi-use virtual cards. Paying with virtual cards gives you the reassurance that you can cancel or freeze your card anytime, with just a swipe. Using the ScribePay app gives clear visibility of your recurring payments schedule, so you can manage your payments ahead of time.
3. Cooling Off period
An often overlooked part of purchasing content online is your rights to cancel shortly after the payment, so If you bought the subscription online, the law says you usually have 14 days to get your money back if you change your mind and haven’t started to use the service straight away.
4. Read the terms and conditions
Retailers tend to charge for the subscription content in advance, e.g. If you are charged in March you will be paying for the services in April. As recurring payments are directly set up with each retailer, they can set their own cancellation policies, so it’s very important to read the terms and conditions before signing up.
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