Life Tech Three in five Australians are paying for online subscription services they don’t use
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Three in five Australians are paying for online subscription services they don’t use

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Australians are wasting money on online subscription services they don’t use, a consumer advocate has warned.

Three out of five Australians are paying for forgotten online subscriptions – a yearly total that can run into the hundreds for some people, according to a survey by independent research company AMPD.

Coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns in 2020 saw Australians spend more time with their screens and sign up for for digital services including online fitness classes, premium Zoom, food delivery, language courses, and streaming platforms.

But with COVID-19 mostly under control across the nation and office and gyms reopening many Australians have switched off from online services without unsubscribing.

Australians spend $3.9 billion a year on unused subscriptions and apps, said Tim Nicholas, a consumer advocate and co-founder of free reminder app GetReminded.

In some cases, this means individuals are paying as much as $1000 a year for digital services they don’t use, he said.

“When we went into lockdown people signed up to trial a number of streaming services forgetting they are paying on average $10 a month for each service costing nearly $400 annually if they have three, which many people now do,” Mr Nicholas said.

“Many also subscribed to fitness apps to fill the void left by gym closures or learnt a new language to fill in the time and are unknowingly still paying a monthly fee even though they are not using it.

“It’s easy to rack up bills without realising with everything paid by direct debit – but now is the time to get finances in order.”

In 2020, GetReminded saw “quite a big increase in the number of people who were setting reminders for subscriptions,” Mr Nicholas said.

“Now in 2021, where there’s a lot more consumer confidence and more people are going back to their office and returning to more normal, it’s time to review what you’re paying for and decide what you can cancel.”

The danger for consumers when it comes to paid online subscriptions for consumers is that most have no end date and charges can “keep slipping through” each month until they are cancelled, Mr Nicholas said.

A lot of things don’t have an end date, once you’ve given over your credit card details that’s where the danger arises,” he said.

“We would encourage people to scrutinise that.”

Reviewing your subscriptions is “not always about stopping things now”, but is also about “setting a point of time in the future” to make a final decision, Mr Nicholas said.

“It’s a good idea for people to get into the habit of setting reminders about online services and apps when they subscribe to ensure they are not throwing money down the drain,” he said.

Popular subscription service fees

Streaming 

  • Netflix: From $10.99 a month
  • Stan: From $10 a month
  • Binge: From $10 month
  • Amazon Prime Video: $6.99 a month, $59 yearly
  • Disney+: $8.99 a month, $89.99 yearly
  • YouTube Premium: $14.99 a month
  • Spotify Premium: $11.99 a month

Health and fitness 

  • Headspace: $19.99 a month, $91.99 yearly
  • Fitbit Premium: $15.49 a month, $124.99 yearly
  • MyFitnessPal Premium: $14.99 a month, $79.99 yearly

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