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Negative option marketing

What it is and how to avoid paying for something you don't want or need

Buying things used to be simple. You go to the store, find what you need, and pay the store for your merchandise. But today, things can be a bit more complicated. Some companies are using a practice known as negative option marketing. Here are a few examples of how it works:

Shopping | Negative Option Marketing - Consumer Protection Office
  • You pay for an annual subscription to a magazine, and if you don't call to cancel at the end of your year's subscription, the magazine automatically renews and charges you for an additional year. Unless you're paying close attention to your credit card statement, you may not even realize you've been charged for another year. And this can go on year after year, unless you contact the company to cancel your subscription.
  • You sign up for a one-month gym membership. As your membership is nearing its expiry date, you decide you want to go to a different gym. A month after your membership expires, you're surprised to see another month has been charged to your credit card. You find out, in the fine print of your agreement, it says your membership will be automatically renewed at the end of the term, unless you contact the business to cancel.

If you're not paying close attention to these types of transactions, you may wind up paying for something you don't need or want.

Fortunately, Manitoba has legislation that ensures consumers are not required to pay for goods or services received under a negative option marketing scheme. For answers to frequently asked questions about negative option marketing and the rules and regulations that protect consumers, visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/cca/cpo/faq_negative_opt.html.

For more information or if you have questions you can visit the Manitoba Consumer Protection Office website at manitoba.ca/cca/cpo or see the contact us page for additional contact information.