ECC Sweden & The Swedish Consumer AgencySubscription traps in Europe – EU study into public experiences of subscription traps in six countries in 2017

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Jolanda Girzl & Hannah Hall

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The Swedish Consumer Agency 2017

Among the six countries included in the study, consumers in Belgium, Austria and Sweden show the lowest level of knowledge about their consumer rights regarding withdrawal, unordered goods and the opportunity to reverse a transaction on your credit card (chargeback). Approximately one in ten (between 9-10 %) in Belgium, Austria and Sweden know what rights they have as consumer, this number is based on respondents correctly answering four knowledge statements in the questionnaire. 

A larger proportion of consumers in Belgium, Austria and Sweden are unsure whether they have the legal right to demand the same requirements on the credit card provider (if you have paid by credit card) if the seller refuses to repay the consumer due to a problem, compared to citizens in other EU countries included in the survey. Knowledge about what rights consumers have is highest in Finland and Norway, about one in four (between 23-27 percent) know their rights (i.e. correctly answer all four knowledge statements in the questionnaire).

Looking at the profile of consumers with experience of subscription traps it is relatively widespread. In Belgium and the Netherlands young citizens are overrepresented among the victims of unwanted subscriptions after clicking on 'too-good-to-be-true' offers. In Sweden, older people are overrepresented. In Norway, Austria and the Netherlands there is a positive correlation between how often 'too-good-to-be-true' offers are seen and experience of subscription traps.

When it comes to how victims of unwanted subscriptions act there seem to be no clear differences between countries. Most victims have contacted the company in some way; to inform them that they not have signed up for a subscription or by trying to cancel the subscription. Many paid the company. Around 10 percent of victims contacted their bank/ credit card provider to ask them to reverse the transaction on their credit card (chargeback).

On average, victims of 'too-good-to-be-true' offers on the Internet in Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands have spent 116 Euros each over the last three years.

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