Hidden traps in consumer contracts that cause us to pay out far more than we expect and for longer are to be outlawed in next week’s Budget according to Government pre-briefing. But don’t hold your breathe it is likely to take years for businesses that have spent decades devising new ways to con us to reform.
They will kick and scream and be in denial about what they have been doing and legislation will probably take longer than Brexit so prepare for an avalanche of unfair tricks to part us from our money in the meantime.
We will have to be on our guard and read the terms and conditions and not just tick the box that allows us to book train tickets, buy books or avail ourselves of the super duper free offer.
Small print contract traps are not read
Companies rely on us signing up for a service or subscription using our credit cards to pay through a continuous payment authority without reading the small print and then being surprised when the payments continue long after we want them to.
We think we are smart in taking advantage of free trials or getting 12 weeks of magazines or digital services for £1 instead of the full cost. But too many of us do not remember to cancel and end up paying the very full price for something we have lost interest in.
Cancelling unfair contracts is not easy
And those of us who remember to cancel may find it tough. There is no easy to find button to cease membership. Anyone who either deliberately or in error takes out the one month trial of Amazon Prime to get free next day deliveries and other stuff, should cancel it the very next day.
The old adage that if it seems too good to be true then it is applies to all these free and cheap trials. And the Budget proposals carry the additional risk of giving consumers a false sense of security that they are safe when they shop online.