Automatic Renewals

Edit: New readers to the topic can join by clicking here to join in at April 2022.

Many organisations and businesses (including Choice!) have subscriptions or memberships that are set to automatically renew when purchased. This is “for our convenience” as the presentations show. Some companies are more up front about this than others.

Many people don’t notice, forget, or don’t pay attention to the included automatic renewal T&C whether it be a recurring product shipment, a subscription renewal, or whatever. If they do not actively use the product/subscription it becomes out of sight and out of mind. Of course each allows one to stop automatic renewal after purchasing, but as with the default ticks on all the extras for an airline ticket purchase that caused so much outrage, should an “honest sale” force automatic renewal, no choice (no pun intended)?. It is cynical selling to require the customer turn it off after purchasing, sometimes days later when an account is set up. Automatic renewal as with any other “value added” or “for our convenience” option should be a tick to select or deselect while purchasing.

What do you think Choice staff and others? Are forcing automatic payments up front different than the devious default ticks to buy all the extras on an (eg) airline ticket?

I personally don’t have a problem with automatic renewals but as a safeguard to be able to switch off any supply of goods or service when I determine so, is I never allow or set up direct debit for payment.
I always pay renewals auto’s or otherwise by other means, as Direct Debit is much harder to stop even if you have cancelled a service automatic payments can still be removed from your account/s.

Yes, I have heard that Direct Debits can be very hard to stop. My daughter had a gym membership that was terminated when she moved to a location where there was no gym available. Although the membership was terminated it took a couple of months for the Direct Debit to stop. I don’t know how valid it is but I have heard of people being unable to stop a direct debit without action by the biller. Surely the owner of the account should be able to do anything to do with the account?

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Hi @PhilT,

Thanks for raising this issue, we appreciate the chance for an open discussion on our auto-renewal payment set-up.

As you’ve noted, many organisations operate under an ongoing subscription model, from entertainment services such as Netflix to energy providers. At a top level, we agree it’s about balancing the convenience of not having to make a manual payment and ensuring a consumer is not getting charged either wrongfully or for a service that is no longer contributing value.

Regarding the comparison with airline pre-selected ticks, we believe this is a different issue. These are ‘add ons’ to a one-off purchase, and in Jetstar’s case, we claimed they often went unnoticed due to some tricky website design. In addition, the add ons can be of questionable value when compared to the market (such as ‘add on’ travel insurance). Our research indicates 26% of travellers have experienced problems with online bookings.

In any case, at CHOICE we aim to set the highest possible standards. We hope our membership options are clear, and we’re continually improving site design to make this even better (we’ve recently implemented opt in box to encourage members to read the T&Cs, and we’ve made 'cancel membership searchable on the site). We also have ongoing contact with our members in a variety of ways, and there’s no devious intent in any of our paid offerings.

If you were to distill this issue to key elements, transparency, customer service and choice are critical. It’s up to consumers to decide if we’ve done this, and the same goes for other auto-renewal subscription services too. We hope this has answered your question, and thanks again for raising this important issue.

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Some banks will stop Direct Debits from your account but they charge for the privilege. I asked Suncorp to do it and they said yes but they also said any Direct Debit from the same Company also be stopped and as I had other items being Direct Debited I decided too trust the company too stop it which thankfully they did.

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My son’s Paypal was charged with a renewal fee for a Norton product (Symantec) because he hadn’t realised that the auto renewal was not switched off. He feels it was his error, costly as it was, and that there is no recourse. I suggested using social media, as I usually do, to publicly query whether a refund is possible. Does Paypal offer any assistance in this regard? Has anyone successfully secured a refund in this situation? TIA.


Hi @Redlandsneen

I have moved your post into this old topic about Automatic renewals. There are several similar topics about auto renewal issues. If you search the site using the query automatic renewals you will be able to read them and perhaps find advice that may help. Automatic renewal is “sold” as a convenience but in some cases as you may read about it is a sneaky tactic to ensure corporate income.

Chances however are not good that money will be able to be recovered. But there is no harm in making an approach to see if the business, Symantec, will consider a refund (partial even perhaps if not a full one) as a token of good will. The request should be in writing and be polite, not saying it wouldn’t be, it is just advice to be aware your son will be appealing to their good nature rather than having any right to a refund.


Just further to what @grahroll has said, any refund will be subject to the goodwill of the company. Many companies consider autorenewals as part of the terms and conditions/contract or use of their products as usually state it is up to the customer to cancel any autorenewal where it exists. As a result, they usually won’t off a full refund…but some may offer a partial/pro-rata refund (others may also change fees to break the renewal period and issue a refund).

When subscribing or using your credit card/Paypal account etc to anything which has the potential to be renewed, it is essential to check the account set up to make sure that automatic renewals were not created when the account was set up. There is a trend that the default is automatic renewals, I can understand why as some may forget to renew manually…but my own preference would be for the automatic renewal default to be turned off (or the consumer as to select this at the point of sign up).

Paypay won’t offer any assistance as they can’t overturn agreed terms and conditions or contracts between a customer and a business. You will need to go to Norton directly to see if they are willing to entertain a refund/pro-rata refund.


Strategy 1 for any signup to most anything, especially those with ‘free trials’ where one needs to enter their card details, is to get the account/service up, and immediately turn off auto-renewal unless they are 100% sure they want the account/service long term. And to document they have done it with a screen shot saved just in case a pesky ‘tech glitch ‘accidentally’ turns it back on’.

For the manually renewing inclined I have yet to see any company that does not send one or many reminders about the impending disruption where the account/service will cease to receive ‘valuable [whatever].’

For auto renewals most also send an email about the upcoming date from 2 to 4 weeks early so a customer can change or update the card account details or even stop the service.

Some customers do not pay attention to those notices yet seem surprised to be billed.


I don’t understand why people are surprised, these days, because its so common. I make sure I keep tabs on all auto-renewing, because I was caught once many years ago when it was not that common… it was easy enough to cancel once I realised my foolishness.

I’ve just unsubbed from the New York Times. Not enough to keep me interested, but it was a very good deal at 50c(US) per week. (Still available if anyone wants a sub).


I recommend also setting a calendar date with reminders at the time of renewal to check my account details that I won’t be charged. I also set reminders for my regular subscriptions so I am reminded that I spend money on them. Many people don’t keep track of their subscriptions and lose hundreds of dollars every year.


I cancelled a monthly subscription (which is set to auto-renew on sign-up) the day before the expiration date but the business (RSVP Australia) stated that because they process the payment the day before expiry they are unable to provide a refund.

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I am not privy to what is shown on the member’s pages, but the open page states

You can cancel the automatic renewal of your subscription by going to the payment management page and selecting the ‘Cancel subscription’ link under RSVP subscriptions.

That external statement does not have a proviso on time. Auto debit arrangements for any subscription usually have a proviso that they have to be cancelled or changed as applicable at least two business days prior to the scheduled debit. If this information is not included it may be used to claim a refund because of misleading conduct (by omission).

edit: @Gregr’s following post notes the timing is stated in T&C 15.3.

It is the norm, rightly or wrongly, that a subscription regardless of what for, once paid and in the absence of some form of satisfaction or refund guarantee, is non-refundable.

Depending on the out-of-pocket for that month an alternative to a letter of complaint would be to request a once off good will gesture. Some companies will do that because a good will gesture does not set precedent, whereas a subscription refund does.

Barring receipt of a good will gesture the ACCC statement from 2014 is


Set reminders in your phone or diary to cancel your subscription to avoid your subscription inadvertently rolling over for a further term


RSVP terms and conditions section 15.3 states clearly that for continuity of service, subscription renewals will be processed one day before expiry.

You have agreed to these terms @Mart63 , so I cannot see how you can complain.

So if your subscription is monthly, then it will expire at the end of the current month.
You can try to get a refund for a month’s subscription, but I think it would be a waste of time and effort and the company is just doing what it says it will do in its service to you.


So if you took out a 12 month membership then cancelled after 1 month you’d be ok with them keeping the full amount with no refund?
Just because the processed the next month’s payment 1 day before expiry (which I agreed to in their terms and conditions) doesn’t mean that they can’t provide a refund if I cancel before my expiry date which is a day later.

Of course not. Many yearly payments have provision for a refund of unused part of the year. Insurance, car rego, etc. Not sure about Choice, but perhaps someone knows.

But unless your RSVP subscription was yearly, the point is moot.

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There is a difference between can’t and are not obligated to. Subscribers to many services experience the same issue that seems unfair yet when it is in the T&C it is something the customer agreed to. Therein lies the problem.

To avoid being charged for the next membership period, notify us that you’d like to cancel at least one (1) day before your membership expires.

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I know that, but if I decide three months into my yearly Choice subscription, I cancel.
Will Choice refund me the pro rata amount of nine months unused?
I have looked but cannot find an answer to that on their site.
Just a little bit off topic but germane to subscriptions in general.

From the same page I linked above

You’ll have access to all the services that come with your membership until the end of your membership term that strongly implies they will not refund. @BrendanMays, confirmation or correction please?


1 year…1 month - there shouldn’t be any difference. I shouldn’t have to pay for a service that I’m not going to use, particularly as I cancelled 1 day before the expiry date as per their Ts & Cs. I can understand certain portions of prepayments not being refundable if, for example, staff have been booked, or food has been ordered, or the cancellation has disadvantaged the supplier somehow (other than profit) but RSVP is an automated IT service - there’s no people manually matching clients, invoices aren’t being manually processed, and the default auto-renewal is not implemented for the benefit of the customer. They might advise that they will process payments 1 day in advance but it’s done automatically via a batch process in the early hours of the morning. So, even if you do cancel 1 day in advance, it means you’d better do it at 12.01am to be sure it’s registered before the billing process run!!!