With a brand new year lying ahead, many of us are thinking about turning over a new leaf to get 2021 off to a positive start – and that means getting your finances in order. While lockdown means gym subscriptions are effectively on hold, streaming TV and online gaming subscriptions have boomed – but it’s worth keeping an eye on whether you’re getting good value and how to cancel a subscription that isn’t offering you value for money.

How to cancel a subscription

While there are many great deals out there, before signing up, it’s worth taking some time to make sure you don’t end up trapped in a deal you don’t want once the start of the year rush wears off – perhaps because the service wasn’t what you expected or you find it difficult to break out of it.

Citizens Advice says that in 2017 it helped people with nearly 3,500 problems around gyms, health clubs and fitness studios – with common complaints including ‘terms and conditions’ and people feeling they had been unfairly held in a contract, and facilities or classes being not as expected.

Gym membership application form
Gym memberships can soon add up, especially if you don’t use the service.

The costs of an unwanted subscription can soon add up. A separate analysis from Citizens Advice of cases where people reported problems with subscriptions such as TV, insurance, online streaming services and gym memberships, found that, on average, these people had forked out £160 on unwanted subscriptions over a three-month period.

Top tips for how to cancel a subscription

So how can you avoid falling into a subscription trap, and make sure your quest to get fit doesn’t leave your finances out of shape? Here are some need to know tips about subscriptions from Citizens Advice…

1. Make sure the subscription is worth it

If you’re signing up to a gym, consider how often you will go, and then work out your price per visit. If you’re going once a week or less, pay-as-you-go or individual classes may be cheaper and won’t tie you into a contract.

2. Make sure that you know what you are signing up for

Take time to read the contract and ask questions so you fully understand what you’re committing to – and, importantly, how long for.

3. Check your subscription cancellation rights

Make sure the terms and conditions look reasonable before signing up. If you’re signing up to a gym, find out if there are options to pause your membership or switch locations if you move away, lose your job or can’t train because of injury.

4. Find out about cooling-off periods

You may find you have a period to get your money back if you change your mind. However, you might not be able to get a refund if you start using a service straight away.

How to cancel a subscription - online gaming
Online gaming has boomed in lockdown, including monthly subscription services.

5. Follow the cancellation policy

Make sure you follow the cancellation policy set out in your contract when you’re ready to end your subscription. Don’t stop your payment without checking what else is required first – otherwise, your subscription may not be cancelled and you could be liable for any missed payments.

6. Challenge unfair T&Cs

People might have different views about what counts as an unfair policy. But if you’re finding it tough or have to give a long period of notice to cancel a subscription, contact the supplier’s customer services department. If this fails consider going to the supplier’s trade or complaints body or reporting it to Trading Standards.

7. Save the evidence

Keep a copy of any adverts or special offers that attracted you to a particular subscription. Make sure that you are promised these features in writing, either in your contract or in an email.

8. Make a complaint if you need to

Explain to the company in writing why you think it is unreasonable that you’re not able to leave a membership. If you’re still having problems then get free help from bodies such as Citizens Advice.

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