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ACM reminds businesses about rules on subscription renewals and cancellations

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is holding an enforcement day today, calling attention for the rules on renewing and cancelling subscriptions. ACM will be warning dozens of companies that offer subscriptions, and which do not comply with the rules on subscriptions. Companies that offer subscriptions are not allowed to just automatically renew those subscriptions once they have expired. Moreover, they cannot create any obstacles for consumers who wish to cancel their subscriptions. ACM is giving these companies a certain amount of time, in which they need to adjust their commercial practices. If they fail to do so, ACM will impose sanctions. Martijn van Dam, MP for the Dutch Labor Party and one of the sponsors of this law, will be closing the campaign at 4pm.

Companies that fall under this law include those that sell subscriptions for newspapers, magazines, children’s books, but also memberships to gyms or dating services. ACM will contact companies about which it has been receiving a lot of indications lately through its consumer information desk ConsuWijzer. ACM will approach these companies so that they can adjust their commercial practices. Anita Vegter, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “Companies that do not comply with the rules for subscriptions harm consumers as well as companies that do comply with them. That is an undesirable situation. That is why we are holding this enforcement day today.”

Consumers are invited to submit to ConsuWijzer any indications they have on companies. They help ACM determine the nature and scope of the problems that it must take action against.

Rules for cancelling subscriptions

Strict rules apply to subscription renewals, making it easier for consumers to cancel their subscription after the agreed-upon period. For example:

  • Once the initial period has expired, subscriptions cannot be automatically converted into a fixed-term subscription. They may be converted into permanent subscriptions, provided that they can be cancelled with a one-month notice (at the most), except for daily, weekly and monthly magazines or papers. These can be renewed for three months at the most.
  • Subscriptions to papers or magazines that have fewer than 12 issues per year may be cancelled with a three-month notice (at the most).
  • Firms cannot create any obstacles to cancellations. For example, consumers must be able to cancel their subscriptions in exactly the same way as they signed up for them.
  • Trial subscriptions to papers or magazines must stop after the agreed-upon trial period.

These rules apply to all kinds of subscriptions such as telephones, internet, energy, but also papers and magazines, gyms, and other services. Insurances and memberships of associations do not fall under these rules.

Consumers can find more information on ConsuWijzer: