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Monthly subscription bills might be slipping through your budget. Here’s how to keep them in check

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Vanessa Bowen, a money coach based in Mississauga, Ontario, noticed something was wrong when she met with a client last year to research the woman’s financial situation.

Did you know she pays for music streaming apps? Did her company mischarge her somehow?Probably not, Bowen told her. Then the woman remembered.

“She was like, ‘Oh my God, I paid for my ex-boyfriend’s Spotify!'” Bowen said. “She was spending all this money on someone who wasn’t even in her life anymore.”

Canadians are signing up for subscriptions left and right and businesses are happy to oblige. It’s quick and easy for buyers and a steady cash for businesses that can automatically renew subscriptions on a regular basis is the flow. But some people forget that they signed up at all.

“You might use it for a few weeks and then forget about it,” says Bowen. “It’s disrupting my life…but the charge is still on my credit card and it’s impacting our finances.”

CBC News spoke with an expert to share how you can save money on your subscription and what to do if you can’t find the unsubscribe button.

“A fundamental shift in how companies do business”

A woman folds and boxes clothes at the warehouse of an appointment clothing rental company in Stockton, California, on September 5, 2019. (Jane Ranhee Lee/Reuters)

Anyone who subscribes to a newspaper can tell that this model has been around for a long time.

But according to Adam Leviinter, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Scriberbase, the wave of direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands in 2010 — such as Dollar Shave Club, which delivers grooming products by mail — has become the modern subscription. It was the beginning of a technology boom.the author of subscription boom.

Now it is a ubiquitous fact of life. Sure, you probably have Netflix or Disney Plus, but get a monthly mystery box filled with cosmetics, quirky tea and coffee flavors, or meal kits with pre-measured ingredients down to a teaspoon. You can also.

“In the last decade, more and more companies have moved in this direction, not just e-commerce companies, but also platform companies, software companies, service companies,” Leviinter said.

UBS Financial Services Company Predict The global subscription market will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025, more than double its estimated value of $650 billion in 2021.

See | People are canceling their subscriptions:

Streaming subscription cancellations are on the rise

A study by the Angus Reid Institute found that one in three Canadians canceled their subscription to a streaming service in the past six months.

“This is a fundamental and profound change in how businesses do business. It is also a fundamental change in how consumers interact with businesses.”

Businesses are more interested than ever in building long-term relationships with the consumers who buy their products. Whereas it used to be up to businesses to bring customers back to repeat business, the increased focus on subscriptions has changed that.

“In a subscription business, the responsibility shifts to the customer, so the company assumes that the customer is satisfied with the product or service, and continues to bill the customer indefinitely unless the customer decides to cancel.

Bowen, who runs a financial coaching firm called Mintworthy Co., said the problem is that people rarely want to give up their subscriptions. Over 85% of Canadians have at least a one-month subscription to him, Angus Reid. Research Discovered in October.

Mississauga-based financial coach Vanessa Bowen says she helps clients manage their monthly subscriptions. She said, “Life gets in the way, this gets in the way, but the charge is still on our credit cards and it’s impacting our finances.” (Courtesy of Vanessa Bowen)

However, according to the same survey, one in three Canadians has canceled their subscription in the past six months, and half cite the ongoing cost of living crisis. Those clinging to submarines might have a hard time saying that long, Bowen said.

“Even if you have a subscription on a regular basis, if you have a subscription on a regular basis, the mindset is, ‘Well, maybe I’ll need it next month or next week.'” Bowen said.

“Once you have it, it’s very hard to say goodbye.”

longer goodbye

Saying goodbye can be difficult, especially when your company wants you to. It’s the dreaded “subscription trap”.Vancouver woman told CBC Cost of living Last year, she was forced to cancel her credit card after the company made it very difficult to get out of her subscription.

Kenneth Whitehurst, executive director of the Canadian Consumer Council, a nonprofit, said in an email to CBC News that “more standardization of subscription agreements and time intervals would help.”

Cost of living26:06Subscription traps, sending money abroad, and who will make up Canada’s future workforce?

The US cracks down on companies forcing customers to cartwheel to cancel subscriptions, but consumer advocates say Canada is lagging behind. In addition, we will tell you whether overseas remittances have actually become cheaper. We also explore Canada’s options for bridging the labor shortage as immigration rates continue to rise and birth rates continue to decline. Are temporary foreign workers the solution or do we need something more permanent?

Whether or not subscriptions can be easily canceled is a matter of opinion, he added, and usually has to do with whether the website is user-friendly. “I think what people are worried about is that they are subconsciously approving term contracts with recurring payments.”

The man smiles at the camera.
Adam Leviinter, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Scriberbase and author of The Subscription Boom, says the subscription economy has fundamentally changed the way businesses and consumers interact. (submitted by Adam Leviinter)

“For smaller subscriptions, we generally want clearer rules about cancellation.”

A Canadian company pleaded guilty last year to tricking buyers into monthly subscriptions to health and nutritional supplements and was fined $15 million after an investigation by the Competition Bureau. But Canada’s consumer market is much smaller, Leviinter said, so the agency isn’t the equivalent of the more stringent Federal Trade Commission in the United States.

Horror story threatens U.S. federal regulators gain Several high-profile companies, from SiriusXM Radio to Apple, will launch in 2021 after facing lawsuits from customers who allege that their subscriptions are too difficult to cancel or engage in questionable auto-renewal practices. We have taken enforcement action.

That’s why it’s important for companies to make it easy for customers to communicate their questions and concerns, and to manage their subscription packages, Leviinter added.

“If you make it difficult for customers to do that, you end up with a lot of problems,” he said.

“Merchant’s Black Eye”

Customers use TD Bank ATMs in Vancouver in 2018. (Daryl Dyke/Bloomberg)

Cutting credit cards is a desperate move. However, most Canadians have an easier route to avoiding unnecessary subscription fees.You can ask your credit card company for a chargeback.

“Chargebacks are a thorny issue for merchants,” says Leviter.

For example, businesses that accept Visa and Mastercard have a responsibility to keep their chargebacks below certain thresholds. If chargebacks spike, it’s bad news for the company.

“We can stop processing cards, which means that as a company, we can no longer process Visa or MasterCard transactions, and if we don’t have the ability to process transactions, we have no business.”

The process is a bit more complicated if you purchased using debit cardThis is because the Company cannot protect you if you share your Pins or in any way facilitate the unauthorized use of your Pins.

Maybe you just want to cut back for your wallet. Bowen said it’s the best way to find a slip.

There have also been a number of subscription management apps in recent years, from MySubscribe to Mint to Bobby.

But auto-renewing subscriptions are two-way.

“I think companies should [the] You have a responsibility to remind consumers, “Your subscription is coming, do you want to cancel?” Cancel He has an easy way to click a button so he can say ‘thank you goodbye,'” Bowen said.

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