Polly Mackenzie, Director & Katie Evans, Head of Policy and Research, Money and Mental Health

Subscription retail: an expensive trap

5 April 2017

Subscription retailing is a clever model. To use the language of behavioural economics, it “shifts the default”. Instead of having to chase the customer for every repeat purchase, the subscription retailer can rely on repeat business month after month unless or until the customer opts out. However, consumers with mental health problems are vulnerable to exploitation by the booming subscription retail industry. Research shows consumers with experience of mental health problems are more likely to purchase goods and services by subscription, particularly entertainment, books or treats, and often struggle to make a phone call required to cancel the service. This paper explains how vulnerable consumers could be protected from the subscription retail ‘trap’.


Read the full policy note here