At comparethemarket.com, you know we like things to be straightforward, uncomplicated and simples. But it can be a big, bad world out there, and not everything is as free as it claims to be.
So, it may come as some good news that in the Chancellor’s recent Spring Budget, he announced plans to crackdown on ‘subscription traps’. These so-called traps are the agreements that consumers are often unwittingly lured into after signing up for a ‘free trial’.
It’s been suggested that any proposals set out will involve preventing companies from taking out ‘unexpected payments’ from people’s bank accounts. In practice, this may mean firms such as online streaming companies can no longer ask for bank details at all when someone signs up to a trial for things like streaming services from Netflix or Amazon Prime, music streaming from Spotify or even software such as Norton Antivirus.
There are numerous stories of how consumers have signed up for a free trial or for heavily discounted products only to end up paying for expensive monthly or annual subscriptions – some of which can work out to more than £520 a year.
As part of the clean-up on sneakily worded ‘free trials’ and bad consumer experiences in general, the Chancellor, also wants to try and get companies to sort out their terms and conditions.
Many firms are accused of having overly complicated, jargon filled T&Cs – some of them adding up to 38,000 words – that’s about half a book’s worth. And let’s face it – who has time to read half a book when all you want to do is quickly order that ‘free’ item.
But, until the Chancellor’s proposals become formalised, it’s down to you to stay alert. Just remember – if something like a streaming service offer seems too good to be true, then there might be a catch or a time period which you’ll need to remember to cancel by.
So if you’re paying for streaming services such as the ones mentioned above, you can compare broadband or fibre packages, download speeds and limits to using our comparison service to make sure you’re get the right deal for you.