Thank you. These are known as ‘recurring payments’ and having difficulties with cancelling them is a common issue. Companies tend to use them as they have a one-off authority from the consumer to charge these payments on their card and do not have to set up direct debits or standing orders. It means the company can take amounts as and when they want to – the dates and amounts can also differ. Many genuine companies use them legitimately but there are unfortunately a small proportion of unscrupulous ones who decide to take advantage at the same time.
What makes things difficult for consumers is that their requests to end the charges are unanswered and the company either has not provided any contact details or they ignore all correspondence.
Assuming attempts to cancel these payments directly with the company are unsuccessful, the following options are still available:
1. Contact the card provider - advise them that you are withdrawing your authority and making a formal request for them to terminate these payments. The Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed that in these circumstances “you do have the right to cancel directly with your card issuer. Once you have done this, it must stop payments immediately - it cannot insist that you agree this with the company taking the payment first."
2. Financial Ombudsman - If neither the company nor the card issuer cancel these payments and the situation remains unresolved, you can take the case to the Financial Ombudsman service: http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm
In terms of getting the money back, you can only ask the company to do this, but the issue is if they refuse to do so. In that case your only legal remedy is to issue a claim in the small claims court to recover it. You can go to the press as mentioned but that will not guarantee a successful resolution and the small claims court is the only place where you can at least get a formal legal judgment to use against them.
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