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Read the terms and conditions before signing up for free trials

West Yorkshire trading standards is warning people across the County to read terms and conditions when applying for free trials for diet pills, vitamins, supplements and health products. 

Trading standards officers have seen a large increase in these types of complaints in recent months. 

“Free trials” are offered via email, direct mail and even via Facebook.  Consumers do not always read the terms and conditions and small print.  But concealed in that small print are normally the terms and conditions which confirm that when a consumer agrees to the free trial, they are actually signing up for a repeat subscription unless the contract is cancelled within a certain time frame.  Failing to cancel within the given time limit means the company will usually then charge the consumer large amounts of money, in some cases hundreds of pounds will be taken out of their bank or charged to debit/credit cards. 

If it’s too good to be true then it probably is!  Please ensure you read the small print before agreeing to free trials. 

Under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, a consumer has a right to cancel within seven days (the cooling off period). The cancellation period starts the day after you receive delivery of the goods. 

In addition to this the trader must also provide you certain information about the contract in writing no later than the date the goods are delivered.  Failure to provide this information means that the cancellation period is extended to a period of 3 months and 7 days in which you can cancel the contract and obtain a full refund. 

The information that must be provided in writing (can be in email) includes:- 

  •  How to exercise cancellation rights (this must be done in writing within 7 days starting the day after the goods are delivered). 
  •  A geographical address where a consumer can direct a complaint to. 
  • Information concerning the return of goods and who pays for the return of the items. 

If you have been taken in by these scams then you may be able to get the money back under the debit card chargeback scheme or via your credit card, providing that the trader has not provided you with the legally required information. 


David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said: “We have seen an increase in these types of complaints recently. Consumers have not been reading the terms and conditions before signing up to these free trials and I would urge them to do so to ensure they are not charged large quantities of money”. 

DATE: 28 May 2014