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Precautions against subscription traps

Checklist for consumers before ordering

Subscription traps are offers on cheap products that lead to costly subscriptions for those who accept. Before responding to an advertisement make sure you have done the following: 

  • Check who you are dealing with. Go to the company's official website and see if you can find the company's name and full contact details, including postal address and e-mail address.
  • Check where the company is based. Do not assume that a website is based in the country indicated by the domain name. Your rights and the ECC-network's ability to help you if something goes wrong depends on where the company is based. The network can not help you if the company is based in a country outside EU, Norway or Iceland.
  • Read the company's terms and conditions. Specially the section with your rights of withdrawal, cancellation and return policies as well as the fine print. Make sure you are not unwittingly agreeing to a subscription. If the terms and conditions are not visible in the advertisement, you should go to the company's website and see if you can find them there. Remember to keep a copy.
  • Research the company. It is always a good idea to check the background of the company before agreeing to what is being offered. A simple online search can reveal any negative feedback about the company left by other consumers. Be aware that positive feedback is not a guarantee that you will not encounter problems.
  • Check the total price. Pay attention to the price and check if there are any additional costs, such as shipping.
  • Document your order. Make a screenshot of the advertisement and each step of the order process, and save the terms and conditions with the special offer to keep a record of what you agreed to.
  • Make sure you use a secure website. Before you enter bank/credit card information, look for a closed padlock symbol in the bottom right of the browser window and for the website address to begin with "https://".
  • Pay by bank/credit card. That may give you additional protection depending on your contract with the bank/credit card company and the legislation in your country. If you encounter problems with the trader, you can contact your bank to claim compensation through chargeback.

Keep in mind!

  • Be careful with your personal information. When you provide personal information about yourself, such as e-mail address, residential address, interests and bank card details, you also give away the possibility that they are abused or used in a way you have not thought of.
  • Always use common sense! Remember: if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In case of doubt, contact us! We can help you with free advice on traders situated in another EU member state, Iceland or Norway.

If you already ended up in a subscription trap, read our article on what you can do next. Furthermore, you can use our sample letters to write to the trader.

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