Where a customer grants standing authority to a merchant, both parties agree to the terms under which recurring payments can be taken from the customer’s account. The FCA encourages merchants to ensure that the continuous payment authority agreement sets out clearly the amount that will be taken in each transaction, and encourages merchants to give the range within which the amount may vary. Under the Payment Services Regulations 2017, if the amount of a payment transaction exceeds the amount the customer could reasonably have expected in the circumstances, the customer is entitled to a refund of the full amount of the transaction from their Payment Service Provider.
As for recurring Direct Debit payments, the Direct Debit Guarantee provides for advance notice to be given to customers for any changes to the amount, date, or frequency of a Direct Debit as instructed by the customer. Notice periods can be agreed between individual customers and merchants. The Direct Debit Guarantee is not a statutory protection, but part of the Bacs Direct Debit scheme rules, operated by Pay.UK.
More broadly, the Government is committed to tackling so-called subscriptions traps and other business practices that harm consumers. In response to growing concerns on this matter, the Government published a consultation which closed on 1 October 2021. It sets out our commitment to tackling problems encountered by consumers when taking out a subscription contract, including making it easier for a consumer to cancel an unwanted subscription. For further information the proposals can be found at: