The law is clear, and just like mobile phone companies who came under intense contract scrutiny a few years ago, website builders have to abide by the same legal requirements.

Automatic renewals are the most frequently applied clauses used by website builders to try to lock in customers.

We’ve seen many cases where estate agents have wanted to move their websites, only to be told by their providers that their contract has been automatically renewed, even almost 3 months before their anniversary date and they are therefore now tied for a full 15 ( yes FIFTEEN ) months!

The CMA guidelines for automatic contract renewals include:

  • It is made clear to customers at the outset how their subscription or contract will be renewed and the contract requires that they are sent a reminder a reasonable time before it is due to be renewed. The reminder should include clear information about the terms of the proposed renewal of the contract and the reasonable steps customers need to take to stop the renewal if they wish to.
  • They give your customers the right to cancel a contract once it has been renewed, without having to pay a cancellation fee, and any requirement to provide notice of cancellation is reasonable (ie it does not have the effect of tying the consumer into the contract unfairly).

Terms that may be unfair include:

  • Automatically renewing your customer’s contract or subscription without requiring you to take sufficient steps to inform them before doing so.

Example: “This will be a rolling contract that will automatically renew unless you contact us 24 hours prior to renewal in order to cancel.”

  • Using excessively long notice periods to tie your customer in for another fixed term.

Example: “After expiry of the initial term, 3 months’ notice of cancellation is required.”

If you feel you may have been duped by an auto renewal clause, visit HERE for further information and who to contact should you be unable to resolve the issue with your website provider.

It’s also worth directing your website provider to the above link as you may find they suddenly change their minds over their renewal clauses.

Aside from being illegal and unenforceable, there is no technical reason for long contracts, and we wonder as to the morality of trying to dupe customers into staying under false pretences.