What are you signing up for?
Orkney Islands Council is joining in this year's National Consumer Week campaign by urging consumers to be careful about what they are really signing up for.
An estimated two million people across the UK experience issues cancelling recurring payments for 'subscriptions' which are being taken without their apparent authorisation.
Gary Foubister from the Council's Trading Standards team said: "According to research 89% of adults are now subscribing to at least one service or product and are happy to pay for on-going access rather than purchasing outright.
“Many of these are reputable arrangements – such as subscriptions to films and TV series.
“But there are some traps out there to be aware of when signing up for something - particularly online, where the offer claims to be a 'free' product or trial, with only a 'charge for postage and packing'.
"In reality this form of subscription trap can lead to an expensive 'continuous payment authority' being entered into after the initial trial period. Unlike direct debit, a CPA enables money to be taken from your account - the amount charged and date taken can vary without notice.
“From experience both nationally and in Orkney, commonly these traps involve offers around products such as health supplements, slimming pills, and beauty products.
“Often the consumer thinks they are only signing up for postage and packing - only to find large payments taken from their account.”
To help people avoid to pitfalls of CPAs, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has released a video animation guide for consumers, as part of the annual National Consumer Week and in conjunction with the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP). The video gives practical advice for consumers to help them think before they sign and not be tempted by free trial offers.
The video can be accessed via Youtube.
CTSI Chief Executive, Leon Livermore, is a strong supporter of National Consumer Week. He said: “Raising awareness of the issues facing consumers is key to tackling consumer detriment. National Consumer Week offers trading standards the chance to actively engage with consumers on a local and national level, on the big issues that can affect millions.”
National Consumer Week is an annual consumer education campaign coordinated by Citizens Advice and other members of the CPP. Find out more about this year’s campaign at the Citizens Advice website.
Follow National Consumer Week updates on Twitter using #BeforeYouSign and #NCW17, and follow the CTSI twitter account.
National Consumer Week 2017 runs from Monday 27th November to Sunday 3rd December.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a training and membership group that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
CTSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.
The Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) was formed in April 2012 as part of a suite of changes to the consumer landscape. The current members of the CPP are: Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, CMA, Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Northern Ireland, Financial Conduct Authority, National Trading Standards Board and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. The CPP’s objective is to bring together these key consumer partners within the reformed consumer landscape to better identify, prioritise and coordinate collective action to tackle the issues causing greatest harm to consumers. In essence, the CPP’s role is to ensure that CPP partners work together to tackle detriment more effectively than they could through working in isolation.