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In the News

National Consumer Week, and trading standards law

Penny Brooks

27th November 2017

National Consumer Week launches today, to coincide with Cyber Monday, and despite its name, is aimed just as much at businesses as it is at consumers.

This is an annual event, involving Citizens Advice as well as the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI). This year's theme is 'Know what you're signing up for', and centres on subscriptions entered into by consumers for various services, particularly online subscriptions where there tends to be less obvious advice on offer to the unwary subscriber.

As Citizens Advice says, "when you sign up for an offer you can end up making regular payments after it finishes - this is known as a subscription. It’s not always easy to tell when you’re agreeing to a subscription. Sometimes they’re called something else - like a free trial, limited offer or sample." CTSI's website addsthat promotions where it is unclear that the consumer will be auto-enrolled into ongoing payments, have led to millions of complaints in the past. Consumers may not understand what they are signing up for, or businesses may deliberately make it very difficult to cancel a subscription contract once it is underway.

On the other hand, businesses may not be fully aware of the law themselves, and of the measures that they have to comply with under laws such as the Consumer Rights Act of 2015. CTSI's short video offering advice to businesses can be found here, along with other video advice for people setting up small businesses to help them to comply with Trading Standards law. Meanwhile their video aimed at consumers is here, and also targets banks and financial institutions about their legal responsibility to stop continuous payment authorities when consumers ask them to. 

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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