I have found we are subscribing to a company via our mobile phone without realising we were doing so.

The phone company has now stopped the £4.50-a-week charge but we are still out of pocket by £252 because of this.

HC, London

Your wife had unwittingly signed up for a third-party service, which showed up as “purchases” on the statement and should have triggered some questions. In fact, you say it was only when there was a change of format in the phone bills that you actually realised what was happening.

It turns out that the merchant is registered with the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA), the regulator for items charged to a phone bill.

Its website (psauthority.org.uk) has a service checker that allows consumers to check a number that shows on a bill. It also gives information about unexpected charges from a phone-paid service. It says: “By replying ‘STOP ALL’ to the short code provided (a five or six-digit number) you can stop unwanted subscriptions.”

The PSA’s conditions for subscription services that charge £4.50 a week or more include “about spend” reminders. This means that users must receive confirmation by text message or another form of communication “upon joining a subscription service and at the point of each subsequent charge”.

It says this information must relate to consumption of the service, the fact of being subscribed, the full name of what you are subscribed to, the various costs, contact details of the provider and instructions on how to exit your subscription.

It sounds as if, in this instance, these conditions may not have been met and I have suggested that in the light of this you pursue it further. 

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