Recent research has revealed that many EU and UK consumers have ordered cheap products and services online, only to discover that they have been lured into a costly monthly subscription. In most cases the information about the subscription payments is hidden or buried in small print and currently the online payment window only gives consumers information about the one-off payment, not the recurring subscription amount.
To tackle this, the European Commission and the network of national consumer authorities, led by the Danish Consumer Ombudsman, have written to Visa, Mastercard and American Express to request changes to the way they present information to consumers when they make a payment involving recurring subscription fees. Under the Payment Services Directive, consumers must be made aware of the specific amount of a payment transaction and should not be misled. The Commission therefore says that credit card companies have a duty to properly inform customers about these hidden subscription costs.
Visa, Mastercard and Amex have two months to respond with details of the positive changes they intend to make to their payment processes to better protect consumers.