The Sunday Times article has highlighted a number of Amazon customers who “Feel cheated after discovering they have been signed up to a service that charges £79 a year”.
That’s Amazon Prime, which Amazon push at users every single time that they make a purchase until they give in and sign up for it.
Amazon are offering 30 day free trials of Prime starting with the tempting free delivery on the order you’re about to place. There’s a warning popup when you sign up, but users are missing the small print which states “Your Amazon Prime membership will automatically continue at a cost of £79 per year and you authorise us to charge your card or another available card on file with us”.
The small print also states “If you do not want to continue receiving the benefits of Amazon Prime, you can select “do not upgrade” in the Manage Your Prime Account section on Your Account during your 30-day Free Trial”, but the big problem is that Amazon already have your payment details so if you don’t read the small print (or forget to ‘do not upgrade’) then the payment is going to be taken.
Ross McEwan, CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland has called on regulators to act over free trial scams. He was referring to recent incidences of ‘free trial scams’ in the run up to Christmas for product trails (often beauty products). However in these cases consumers were entering their card details in exchange for the product trial only to find out they were signed up for a monthly subscription.
With the Amazon Prime trial you don’t even have to enter your card details as Amazon already have them, so it’s understandable consumers forget to cancel.
If you’re scammed with a free trial, act as soon as you spot the payments coming out of your bank account. If it’s a direct debit you can easily cancel the payments by contacting your bank. Sadly if it’s a continuous authority on your debit or credit card you’ll find it much harder to cancel and at the very least you’ll have to find the contact details for the company you signed up with. That’s not hard if you’ve signed up for Amazon Prime, it’s very much harder with the free trial scamming companies who do not publish telephone numbers or anything more than a web contact form and may not even have a UK presence.