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Staffordshire backs campaign to give consumers greater clarity on subscription rights

Staffordshire people and businesses should take advantage of guidance issued this week to make them more aware of laws on subscriptions, the county’s communities leader has said.

As part of National Consumer Week, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has issued the guidance on subscription issues. An estimated two million people across the UK still experience issues cancelling recurring payments for subscriptions without their authorisation.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said:

It’s quite common for people to sign up to a subscription for something either by post or in a shop, give their details and then forget about them. Quite often this might be for a free limited period trial which is then followed by direct debit charges.
Our trading standards team wants people, businesses and banks to be more aware of subscription issues and National Consumer Week gives us an opportunity to highlight them. Unmonitored continued payment arrangements can lead to debt. We want banks to ensure their customers are protected and businesses ensure their terms and conditions are clear and transparent.”

The CTSI has today released, as part of the annual National Consumer Week and conjunction with the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP), two video animation guides for consumers, businesses and financial institutions on subscription issues.

The first animation is aimed at businesses who offer subscriptions to their customers. Whether selling gym memberships, health or beauty products, streaming services or periodic subscriptions, all businesses must follow a strict set of laws designed to protect consumers from unfair practices.

The second animation gives practical advice for consumers to make them think before they sign and not be tempted by free trial offers. If consumers find themselves caught in a trap then banks need to be aware of their responsibilities to customers struggling with subscription issues.

The animations highlight important issues faced by UK consumers and provides advice on legal obligations to businesses.

The videos are produced alongside Business Companion, and discuss subscription periods, renewal schedules and total monthly costs, as well as continued payment authorities.

Business Companion is a free government backed business advice website, offering important, up-to-date consumer law information accessible to all. It can be accessed at: http://www.businesscompanion.info

CTSI chief executive, Leon Livermore, 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, with this year’s campaign focusing on subscription issues and subscription traps.

Subscription issues can include signing up for a fixed term deal, trial, or promotion where it is unclear that the consumer will be auto-enrolled into ongoing payments.

People can view the business advice video here and the banks and consumer advice video here.