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Don’t be like Little Red Riding Hood: keep the Big Bad Wolf from the door – be sure what you’re signing up for

Posted 29/11/17

Consumer advice body the UK European Consumer Centre is releasing today (Wednesday 29 November), as part of the annual National Consumer Week, a short animated video showing how easy it is to get caught in a subscription trap. 

Featuring Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, the video draws attention to what can happen if you are scammed online. 

Aimed at consumers, the animation is designed to make consumers think before they sign and not be tempted by free trial offers, unless they know what they are getting into. 

Andy Allen, service director at the UK ECC (which offers free support and advice to UK consumers in dispute with traders in a European country outside of the UK), said: “Very few, if any companies, will offer you a trial of anything unless it is going to lead on to further purchases and this is often done by an automatic renewal system which places the responsibility on the customer to actively cancel an ongoing contract. In most of these cases the customer doesn't realise what is happening until they notice continued payments disappearing from their bank accounts. 

“Not all subscriptions lead to problems, but according to a recent report from Citizens Advice  two million people across Great Britain have experienced problems cancelling recurring payments which are often used for buying products online, often finding regular payments taken from their credit or debit card without their apparent authorisation. By releasing this animated video, we want to do our bit to make sure consumers are aware of the potential dangers.” 

And Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), which delivers the UK ECC service, said: “Raising awareness of the issues facing consumers is key to tackling consumer detriment. National Consumer Week offers 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 UK’s Consumer Protection Partnership, including the UK European Consumer Centre. This year’s campaign focuses on subscription issues and subscription traps.

The UK European Consumer Centre received 39 complaints in the first eight months of 2017 about ‘classic subscription traps’ from consumers who had thought they were getting a good deal and found out in reality that they weren’t. 

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. 

Check out the UK ECC’s ‘wolf’ video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVUtOGKjJR8 

Follow National Consumer Week updates on Twitter using #BeforeYouSign and #NCW17. 

If you find yourself in a position where you have ongoing payments being taken from your account, contact the UK European Consumer Centre for advice on 01268 88660 - weekdays between 9am and 5pm. 


Notes to Editors

  • National Consumer Week (NCW) is an annual consumer education campaign run by the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP). The theme of this year’s NCW will be issues with subscriptions and subscription traps. It will launch on Cyber Monday (27 November 2017). The Consumer Protection Partnershipbrings together consumer bodies, including the UK European Consumer Centre, covering all aspects of consumer protection. We represent consumer advocates and consumer law enforcers from all parts of the UK who are uniquely placed to work together to help tackle the issues facing consumers today. 
  • A subscription is technically all one contract with multiple purchases, so the consumer’s best hope of getting their money back may be either through their credit card company under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 or from their bank via the voluntary ‘chargeback’ system if a debit card is used. If the price of the goods is over £100 and the consumer uses a UK credit card to pay for it, the Consumer Credit Act 1974 may place equal liability with the seller on the credit card company for any breaches of contract (eg faulty goods, non-delivery of items, poor services or misrepresentation). 
  • More information on National Consumer Week 2017 is available on the UK ECC website. 

For further information, please contact UK European Consumer Centre’s press office on 01268 582206. 

The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 30 centres in the EU, plus Iceland and Norway. The aim of the network is to provide advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK. The Network will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint. 

UK ECC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel. 

UK ECC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the European Commission. The UK ECC service is delivered by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute www.tradingstandards.gov.uk 

  • Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 01268 886690 weekdays between 9am and 5pm. 
  • If in doubt before you buy, contact our sister organisation – the European Consumer Centre for Services – for  pre-purchasing advice: www.ukecc-services.net

Follow us on twitter @ctsi_uk

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