The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has sat down with the company behind a senior-citizen discount card called Seniorenvoordeelpas about the firm’s practices regarding subscription renewals and cancellations. For example, subscriptions were automatically renewed for another year, which is against consumer protection rules. Consumers were not able to cancel their subscriptions during that additional year. Seniorenvoordeelpas therefore had to adjust its general terms and conditions. Subscriptions are currently no longer automatically renewed for another year. The company has informed its customers about these changes.
With the senior-citizen discount card, consumers are able to get discounts on their purchases on certain websites and at local stores. Through its consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, ACM received complaints about Seniorenvoordeelpas. Evert Jan Hummelen, acting Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, explains: “It is important that businesses comply with the rules when it comes to subscription cancellations, and that consumers know what their rights are. This will avoid situations where consumers are stuck with a subscription for too long a period of time.”
In most cases, consumers must be able to cancel their subscriptions every month after the initial period. General terms and conditions that deviate from this principle are not legally valid. Seniorenvoordeelpas will contact their customers and inform them about this. The company has also changed other points in the general terms and conditions that violated the rules. For more information about your rights when cancelling subscriptions, visit ConsuWijzer (in Dutch).
ACM also called the company to account for its customer-recruitment practices. In addition, ACM instructed the company to be clear about what the card costs, and what stores accept the discount card. Seniorenvoordeelpas has also adjusted the ordering process on its website so that it is clear to consumers that they are actually signing a contract.
Dealing with consumer problems swiftly
ACM has different instruments at its disposal for dealing with consumer problems. When choosing its approach in each case, ACM puts consumers central. In this particular situation, ACM opts for a rapid, focused intervention.
Over the next few months, ACM will make sure that Seniorenvoordeelpas continues to comply with the rules, and that they stick to the agreement. Consumers who still encounter problems with Seniorenvoordeelpas can report this to ConsuWijzer.