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I signed up on a seemingly reputable website for making resumes and was prompted to enter a 7-day paid trial in order to download and use the resume I already made in the web app.

Now, after 7 days, I was billed by the website for a monthly subscription that I was automatically enrolled into at the end of my trial period.

The website mentions in the confirmation e-mail for the paid trial, that at the end of the trial period I will be automatically billed the cost of 1 month of their premium subscription.

Prior to the expiry date of the trial I did not receive any further reminders from the website that I was going to be billed 10 times the money I paid for my "trial" run of the service.

Can I obtain a refund?

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    I occasionally sign up for free trials. When I do so and am not sure I'll continue for the regular subscription period, I put multiple reminders in my electronic calendar, several days before deadline to notify the service. The reminders say "CANCEL or commit to SUBSCRIPTION X".
    – nickalh
    Mar 26 at 5:09
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    Wait, you did sign up to a paid trial and just did nothing as it lapsed over?
    – Hobbamok
    Mar 26 at 14:12
  • So you made the assumption that the regular monthly price would be 4x the price of the 1-week trial, but it's actually 10x? Didn't the service agreement give the price details?
    – Barmar
    Mar 26 at 16:11
  • What exactly were the terms and conditions to which you agreed? Mar 30 at 22:05

2 Answers 2

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In the , under the Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU, there is a 'right to withdraw' or 14 day cooling-off period for distance and off-premises contracts (Article 9). There are exceptions, including but not limited to:

  • plane and train tickets, as well as concert tickets, hotel bookings, car rental reservations and catering services for specific dates
  • goods and drinks delivered to you by regular delivery – for example a milk delivery
  • goods made to order or clearly personalised – such as a tailor-made suit
  • sealed audio, video or computer software, such as DVDs, that you have unsealed
  • online digital content, if you have already started downloading or streaming it and you agreed that you would lose your right of withdrawal by starting the performance
  • goods bought from a private individual rather than a company/trader
  • urgent repairs and maintenance contracts – if you call a plumber to repair a leaking shower, you can't cancel the work once you have agreed on the price of the service

Recently there was a case involving a free trial period, the expiry of which automatically resulted in a chargeable subscription if the consumer did nothing: Konsumenteninformation v Sofatutor GmbH (5 October 2023).

Plaintiff argued that the consumer should retain the right to withdraw from the beginning of the chargeable period as well as during the trial period.

In a preliminary ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found that the consumer's right of withdrawal arises only once, from the beginning of the trial period, and there is no additional right to withdraw from the beginning of the chargeable period.

Meaning that if the consumer starts a trial that will automatically turn into a chargeable subscription, his right to cancel is the 14 day period from the beginning of the trial. In a case where there is a 7 day free trial period, it follows that the consumer has another 7 days in which to exercise the right to cancel.

Is there an entitlement to a full refund? Possibly not, the refund might be reduced pro rata - it may depend on what use the consumer made of the service,

Note that, before binding the consumer to the contract, the trader must provide the consumer "in a clear and comprehensible manner, with information concerning the conditions, time limit and procedures for exercising the right of withdrawal in accordance with Article 11(1) of that directive, as well as the model withdrawal form as set out in Annex I(B) thereto."

If the trader has not done so, the withdrawal period expires 12 months from the end of the initial withdrawal period of 14 days (Article 10).

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    Thank you for your answer. Perhaps I might even get my money back. Mar 25 at 12:21
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    Virgil make sure the same doesn't happen again at the end of the month. In UK at least, many fixed term contracts require you to give notice of termination, or they continue automatically. For example a lettings agreement, a sole agency house sale, a broadband account, etc. I've noticed that all my insurances default to 'automatic renewal'. Mar 25 at 14:08
  • @Lag Thank you for your advice. With the help of your arguments and the listed legal case, I was able to persuade them to return my money. Mar 28 at 6:08
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It sounds like they informed you of the details of the contract and you agreed to it, so I don't see why you wouldn't be obligated to pay them.

One general idea is the two week return policy in the EU, however it explicitly states the following exception:

online digital content, if you have already started downloading or streaming it and you agreed that you would lose your right of withdrawal by starting the performance

which I would assume covers your case. So no refund for you, you bought a product, used it and now have to pay for it.

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    They breeched their contract. It should be only 4 times the trial cost. Mar 26 at 1:22
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    @user2617804 How so? They sold OP a contract that includes an automatic signup for a monthly subscription if it is not canceled. They told OP in the original confirmation that that is what is going to happen. It is not a very customer friendly business model but there is no breach of contract visible to me.
    – quarague
    Mar 26 at 9:01
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    @user2617804 please do explain how they breached their contract with OP
    – Hobbamok
    Mar 26 at 14:14
  • I don't know about the EU, but in the US it's a very common business model for subscription-based services, friendly or not.
    – Barmar
    Mar 26 at 16:07
  • Actually, what's common here is free trials, which automatically convert to paid subscriptions after the trial period. I've not encountered paid trials before, I didn't initially notice that in the question.
    – Barmar
    Mar 26 at 16:09

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