How to watch what you're spending on entertainment online 

Daily Mail Online Finance 3 weeks ago
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Long gone are the days when the BBC licence fee would cover all your entertainment needs.

Now you have a whole host of online television and music options to choose from — allowing you to watch and listen on your mobile phone, tablet, smart television or computer. But this new breed of streaming services, including Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime, automatically take a fee directly from your bank account every month and won't stop unless you act.

Around 17 million Britons are signed up to such subscription services, according to Citizens Advice. But the charity says two million customers have struggled to cancel payments, while users are thought to waste an average of £640 a year on unwanted subscriptions. Launch of the new streaming service BritBox — offering classic shows from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five — has now added another option to an ever expanding list.

Many, if not all of these streaming services, offer users free trials before payment starts being taken regularly.

James Daley, founder of consumer campaign group Fairer Finance, says companies should not use these trials to 'trap people'.

He says: 'It's reasonable that people will want to try before they buy — and most of us are probably grateful for the chance to get that for free, or at a discounted rate.

'Where it starts to edge into bad practice is when companies make it hard to cancel — giving you a million ways to sign up, but forcing you to pick up the phone and wait in line or to write a letter to cancel.'

The Grand Tour
Amazon Prime, with shows like the Grand Tour, left, and Netflix, with shows like The Crown, right, are the two biggest players in the subscription streaming

If you were to subscribe to all the popular streaming services, you would be paying close to £1,000 a year.

Here, Money Mail details what is now on offer, how much it really could be costing you, and how you can cancel a subscription you no longer need.

Amazon Prime 

What do you get? As well as one-day delivery on millions of Amazon products, this gives you access to around 18,000 films and about 1,800 TV episodes, live Premier League football and more than two million songs, plus thousands of books and magazines.

Cost: £7.99 a month or £79 a year. New members get a 30-day free trial.

HOW DO YOU CANCEL? Go to the Your Prime Membership section under Your Account on Amazon.co.uk and click 'End membership' in the Manage Membership section. Paid-up members who haven't used Prime benefits will be eligible for a full refund; others might be eligible for a partial refund.

What do you lose? Your downloaded films and TV shows will still be stored on your devices even if you do cancel Prime. 

Any videos you purchase will also still be accessible on the Amazon site. But any content available to Prime members at no extra cost, such as an Amazon Original series such as The Grand Tour, will no longer be available once you cancel.

Netflix 

What do you get? Netflix UK offers you unlimited access to nearly 6,000 films, documentaries, and TV programmes.

Cost: The basic service is £5.99 a month. Users can pay £11.99 a month to allow them to watch Netflix on four different screens at the same time. New customers get a 30-day free trial. Netflix will email you a reminder three days before it ends.

HOW DO YOU CANCEL? Netflix says you can cancel your account online in two clicks. There are no cancellation fees, but you will not get a partial refund if you cancel part-way through a month.

Now TV 

What do you get? Now TV gives you a Sky Cinema Pass offering more than 1,000 films. 

The Entertainment Pass has more than 300 box-sets, and the Sky Sports Pass lets you watch all 11 Sky Sports channels.

Cost: Cinema Pass costs £11.99 a month, Entertainment Pass is £8.99, and Sports Pass costs £33.99 a month, or a one-off £9.99 for a day. 

New customers can try a seven-day free trial.

HOW DO YOU CANCEL? You can cancel at any time via the Now TV website in My Account. The cancel option is not available on the NOW TV app. 

You can only cancel a one-off day or week Sky Sports Pass if it has not been activated.

Britbox 

What do you get? Access to classic BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five shows including Wolf Hall, Fawlty Towers and Doctor Who. 

The service will also show new programmes. You can enjoy the likes of Broadchurch and Midsomer Murders, but not have to sit through any adverts. 

Other BBC shows include Happy Valley, Gavin And Stacey, and McMafia. Plus, movies from Film4.

Cost: £5.99 a month or £71.88 a year. There is a 30-day free trial.

HOW DO YOU CANCEL? Login to BritBox, click 'manage' within Subscription And Billing which is in the Account section. Then click 'delete account'. You must cancel at least 24 hours before your next bill date.

Spotify

What do you get? Premium membership allows you to listen to more than 50 million songs offline with no adverts and unlimited skips.

Cost: Premium membership is £9.99 a month or £119.88 a year. Students pay £4.99 and there is a family deal at £14.99. It is currently offering Premium free in a three-month trial which then rolls on to the £9.99-a-month deal.

HOW DO YOU CANCEL? You have 14 days after your free trial ends to cancel without charge. If you cancel after that, your subscription will stop at the end of the period for which you have paid. 

Spotify will not refund any subscription fees already paid to it.

What do you lose? After your Premium subscription ends, you will still be able to listen to any music that you downloaded by logging into your account. 

But you will not have access to this content offline.

Audible 

What do you get? This online spoken book service gives you to a new credit every month. One credit buys an audiobook.

Cost: There is a 30-day free trial, then £7.99 a month or £69.99 a year (25 per cent discount). 

A single audiobook ordinarily costs upwards of £20. You can also return a book within 12 months.

HOW DO YOU CANCEL? Go to Account Details on the Audible website via your desktop PC. Click Cancel Membership at the bottom of the View Membership Details section. 

Your subscription will not be cancelled if you delete the app or try to cancel from your smartphone or tablet. 

Audiobooks 'purchased' with credits will remain on your account for ever — even if you unsubscribe you can read them by logging onto your account.

b.wilkinson@dailymail.co.uk

Tags: Guides, Money

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