Subscription services can make great holiday gifts. The recipient gets a gift that keeps on giving, and the giver doesn’t need to worry about shipping. But with so many options and price points, picking the right option can be hard.
Video and music streaming services are hugely popular. Meal delivery services provide fresh, pre-measured ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes on a subscription basis. You also can sign up for regular shipments of snacks, clothing, personal grooming products, makeup, vitamins, pet toys, wine, and the list goes on.
What should you know about a subscription service before you sign up? BBB offers the following tips to help you get the most out of subscription services while watching your budget.
How to sign up and cancel subscription services:
• Do plenty of research. Take time to research a company before you sign up for a subscription or trial. Find the company on social media and review their account. Check BBB.org to see if the company has a good business rating, and look online for consumer reviews. Do an online search of the company including the words “scam” or “complaint” to reveal any red flags you should be aware of.
• Investigate free trials. Free trials can be a good way to get to know a company and try out a product, but make sure you understand how they work. Before you sign up, find out how long the trial period lasts, what exactly you are agreeing to, and how and when to cancel if you decide not to subscribe. If any of this information is confusing or unavailable, take your business elsewhere. To better prepare yourself for possible free trial scams, read the BBB Investigation Update: Free Trial Offer Scams.
• Understand how auto-renewal works. Auto-renewals are a convenient way to keep your subscription current if you decide you like the service. On the expiration date, the company charges your credit or debit card and the subscription renews for another period. Keep in mind that companies must send you a renewal notice, which is a brief reminder that your subscription is about to renew, ahead of time. Always check your bank and credit card statements to make sure the cost is what you expected. If you notice a price jump, it could be that you were signed up for a promotional period that ended.
• Know how to stop a subscription. Some subscriptions can be cancelled anytime, but some are not the case. Make sure you fully understand the cancellation policy before signing up for a subscription. If you decide you want to cancel, follow the proper steps to do that (as per the cancellation policy) and contact the company directly if you have any issues. Once you request to stop a subscription, it is always wise to monitor your bank statements closely. If you are within your rights to cancel and are still being charged and can’t work it out with the business directly, you may want to contact your credit card provider to see if they can help.
• Cancel unwanted subscriptions early. Instead of waiting until the last minute to cancel a subscription or free trial, you can usually cancel early and still enjoy the remaining time left on your subscription for that billing period. Calendar alerts can also help you keep track of when to cancel a subscription, so you don’t forget and end up paying for an extra subscription term.
• Periodically review your active subscriptions. If you aren’t careful, you could lose track of what subscription services you are paying for. To maintain your financial health, it is critical for consumers to figure out how much they are spending on subscriptions. Periodically, review your subscriptions to make sure you’re still using them. If you are signed up for multiple subscriptions, a subscription management app can help you to keep track of and manage them.
• Watch out for scams. Scammers may offer you free trials or deals on subscriptions that seem too good to be true, hoping you’ll sign up and hand over your credit card number. Don’t believe deals that seem outrageously good. In addition, if you receive a “renewal notice” that asks you for your credit card information, think twice before you reply. It’s likely the message is a scam. Renewal notices are reminders from a company that already has your payment information. Always contact the company directly to verify suspicious messages.
For more information, look up online marketplace business profiles, write a customer review, or file a complaint at BBB.org. Visit BBB Scam Tracker to research and report scams.