Beware of auto subscription with trial services

Headteachers, SLTs, Teachers
Don't fall into the trap of subscribing without realising

On a standard busy day in January I came across an email that offered free subscription to a website that linked schools; kind of a digital pen pal service. It piqued my interest and having scanned it, I signed up to have a look. It was disappointing, didn't seem professional and not a well-designed site so I filed it under 'no use' to my school and forgot about it.

Therefore, to my eyes, any further emails sent by them were considered spam and I treated them as such. Fast forward three months and we are sent an invoice for £300.00 for an annual subscription. I had assumed, wrongly, that having had a look at their product and found it not for our school that would be the end of it but I should have read the small print at the end of the email, because it was a 2-month subscription that automatically renewed if I didn't actively cancel.

I spoke to the office manager at 'The Big classroom' to explain I hadn't used their product and therefore was paying £300.00 from the school's budget for no benefit. It fell on deaf ears as I had 'signed up' and should have been fully aware of the method of cancellation as it was made clear in the emails. I also suggested that their business model wasn't customer friendly, not transparent enough and they were actually asking for a large sum that should be going to our children. Again, this was met with the repeating of terms and conditions I had unwittingly been caught in.

We have had to pay having agonised over this and it feels like, even though they are legally in the right to demand monies, it has been a clever ruse to take advantage of the curiosity and busy lives of heads, who are always looking for new ways of inspiring children, to get money from our ever decreasing budgets.

I've learned a lesson from this and no longer even consider circular emails, even though I suspect some of them may be very useful: once bitten twice shy as the cliche goes...