Consumer Alert: BBB Hawaii says keep an eye on pesky subscription payments

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The popularity of subscription services soared over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic due to their convenience and flexibility, but the Hawaii Better Business Bureau warns that users should check for a few things before committing to a recurring charge.

BBB marketplace manager Rosann Freitas said the first thing to look for is a legitimate terms of conditions.

“So we always get that with anything that we purchase, is the terms, and most of us probably don’t read them. However, that really dictate what happens, when they charge, how they charge, how long this is going to go on,” Freitas said.

The BBB says folks who are looking to a subscription should read the fine print of the service’s auto-renewal policy before committing to a monthly fee. Freitas said even free trials can be tied to recurring payments, so be careful.

“So the key on any of these are really finding that trustworthy company that you’re doing business with.” Freitas said. “If they’re not communicating with you about that information, that’s a red flag.”

Subscription users can always cancel unwanted payments, but the BBB says to do it early. It can be hard trying to figure out just how to cancel those recurring charges.

“It’s easy to sign up for things on a website, but try to unsubscribe or get that stopped, it’s much harder. And a lot of times it requires that you actually call them.”

Rosann Freitas, Hawaii Better Business Bureau marketplace manager

If the charges still do not stop after contacting the subscription company, get in touch with officials from the bank or credit card the payments are connected to. Showing authorities an effort was made to stop the subscription payments will increase the chances of getting that money back.

There are many free ways to check up on a particular company before buying in, like the BBB Scam Tracker. To file a complaint with the BBB about a scam involving a subscription service, click here.

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