Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Temptation of subscriptions

In the UK the organisation Citizens Advice conducted a study of consumers subscribing to various services and discovered that on average consumers pay ca 160GBP over a period of three months for unwanted services. These would include subscriptions to gyms, insurance, online streaming, TV channels - that would not end up being used. The message to consumers is to be aware of their usage habits and not to be too easily tempted to conclude yet another service at a seemingly attractive price, with an easy subscription process. Reading contract terms before signing up is always a good idea. A simple subscription process makes consumers easily sign in, but the sign-out process may be more complex and conditional. Citizens Advice reports on 9 out of 10 consumers being initially refused cancellation, in practice. This indicates the need for more inquiry into the terms and conditions of these services providers and the fairness of their provisions on terminating the contract. Still, even if termination is possible, consumer behaviour biases mean we tend to overestimate our future behaviour (how many times we will make use of the gym subscription, for example) and may be unlikely to timely cancel a contract we don't benefit from. An attractive price still may mean paying money for something that we end up not using at all, which profits service providers not consumers. 

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