Advice Column: Subscription Problems

Thursday 21st December

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on problems with subscriptions.

 I signed up to a free TV deal, but now they are charging me because the free period has run out and I forgot to cancel the subscription. I can’t be the first person to fall for this. What can I do?

 Citizens Advice research has found that many people are getting stuck with subscriptions and are wasting hundreds of pounds on them when they’re no longer wanted, or deals expire.

Our analysis found that people lost an average of £160 from subscriptions they wanted to cancel, but weren’t able to. The analysis reveals that companies can make it hard to cancel a subscription with 9 in 10 people prevented from doing so after initially asking. Common reasons for turning down a cancellation include being told to use a specific method, like the phone, or to give more than a month’s notice.  People also reported not being made aware they had signed up for a subscription in the first place, or that their contract would continue on an auto renewal basis.

With subscriptions now being offered across a range of goods and services, from beauty products to TV streaming, it is important that people check the small print before they sign up to one. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, businesses can’t enforce terms on consumers that are unfair.

Follow our tips on how to avoid getting tied into a subscription next time:

  1. Check what your cancellation rights are – each supplier can set their own cancellation policy and they don’t need to offer you a right to cancel your subscription early. Make sure the terms and conditions look reasonable before signing up. 
  2. Remember you’ve got a cooling off period if you buy online – if you bought the subscription online, the law says you usually have 14 days to get your money back if you change your mind. However, you might not be able to get a refund if you start using the service straight away.
  1. Follow the cancellation policy – make sure you follow the cancellation policy set out in your contract when you’re ready to end your subscription. Don’t stop your payment without checking what else is required first – otherwise your subscription may not be cancelled and you could be liable for any missed payments.
  1. Challenge unfair terms and conditions – there are no strict definitions for what counts as an unfair policy. But if you’re finding it tough or have to give a long period of notice to cancel a subscription, contact the supplier’s customer services department. If this fails go to the supplier’s trade or complaints body or report to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.

For more information and advice go to

The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit