Subscription Trap

Subscription Trap


The word trap is usually not a nice word. Instantly a device designed to catch and retain an animal springs to mind, or a trick planned to deceive someone or catch them unaware. Okay, so trap music seems to be one form that’s not so awful depending on your music taste (Oh dear – switch if off quick it really isn’t for me!) AND of course there is TRAP (Trademark and Rightsholders Against Piracy) who we know do excellent work to protect the public from purchasing counterfeit products whilst enabling artists, actors, athletes and musicians to provide their fans with official merchandise.

Someone I know recently was caught in a subscription trap and it caused me to look a little deeper into the whole trap area and it does what it says on the tin. It tricks someone into subscribing to a service or goods by offering the person a free trial believing that they will only be paying for the postage of that item by using a debit or credit card (my instinct on giving debit or credit card details makes me question anything first, but as consumers we are all getting a little less cautious using cards online).  Once the subscription trap company have those details they set up a continuous payment authority (CPA) and the trap is set.

Trading standards and Citizens Advice Bureau helped my friend who had responded to a pop up advert whilst visiting a respected High Street store’s online shop. The advert offered a sample of face cream and within seconds the trap had been activated. Luckily she realised quickly and managed to cancel her credit card so the loss was minimal. The subscription trap company tried to make her feel that by cancelling the service, she would be put on a consumers black list and her credit worthiness would be challenged on any future purchases elsewhere. Indeed cruel for an honest person who has never been in debt to contemplate.

Citizens Advice state that women aged 50 to 64 are most at risk from subscription traps offering health and beauty related products. Their survey highlights that as many as 2 million consumers in Great Britain have had a request to cancel a CPA for subscription declined by either the company or their bank/card provider. Far too many are getting caught and stuck in the trap and we need to highlight this to stop those numbers increasing.

Check out National Trading Standards eCrime which has been set up by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to investigate online scams and rip offs of nation significance. and also Get Safe Online, who state they are UK’s leading source of unbiased factual and easy to understand information on online safety, offer free expert advice both personal and business

I’ve always used the saying “If there is a bargain in one shop, I’m in the shop next door”. Maybe it’s not such a bad place to be.