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After warning, more businesses now comply with rules regarding subscriptions

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has established that the businesses that ACM warned this summer now comply with the rules on subscription renewals and cancellations. This has been the result of the enforcement day regarding subscriptions that ACM organized in July.

The businesses that were targeted sell subscriptions for newspapers, magazines, children’s books, but also gym memberships or cleaning services for skips or dumpsters. 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.

Because of the success of that enforcement day, ACM wishes to organize a similar event next year. Anita Vegter, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “Thanks to the indications we received from consumers, we knew exactly which companies did not or not entirely comply with the rules. After our intervention, these companies adjusted their practices. This is a great result for consumers and businesses.”

Results of the intervention

In July, ACM contacted almost 30 businesses as part of its enforcement day regarding subscriptions. These were businesses about which consumers had filed complaints with consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, as they did not comply with the rules on subscriptions. In these phone calls, and in letters sent afterwards, ACM reminded these businesses of the rules. As a result, more than half of the contacted businesses complied afterwards. ACM warned the other businesses again, the ones that still did not or not entirely comply with the rules, threatening to impose sanctions (orders subject to periodic penalty payments). This proved to be effective. In the end, ACM did not have to impose any sanctions.

With this intervention, compliance with the rules regarding subscriptions has improved dramatically. The actual reach of the intervention was broader than just the businesses that had been contacted. Because of the attention that the intervention attracted, other businesses and consumers were informed about the rules regarding subscriptions.

Rules for cancelling subscriptions

Strict rules apply to subscription renewals and cancellations. 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 submit to ConsuWijzer any indications they might have about businesses that do not comply with these rules: