When your free trial with a service comes to an end and your credit card silently starts getting charged without any warning. You are then not given an easy way to cancel the automatic renewal.
Affinion Group is an international loyalty programme company that runs a number of programmes including Completesavings.co.uk. They use a variety of nasty Dark Patterns in duping people out of money. Here's how it works.
They partner with a range of legitimate ecommerce businesses, such as thetrainline.com, below:
When you buy a ticket, everything works the way you'd expect it to. You select your ticket, then proceed through the payment screens as shown below:
When you complete the process, you are taken to a confirmation page, as shown below. The top box of content on the page is a disguised ad, using the same font and the same dark blue button style used by thetrainline.com. Having clicked a continue button a few times during the checkout process, you're very likely to think you need to click this button too, just to finish your booking. In fact, this isn't true.
When you click the continue button, you're taken to another site (one-time-offer.com), which tries to convince you to sign up for a £20 money-off voucher.
If you sign up to this service, you are enrolled into a £15 a month subscription which continues forever (a form of bait and switch). Many articles and forum posts on the web indicate that most people only realise this when they notice unusual charges on their bank statements..
In the USA, Affinion has paid millions of dollars in civil claims and state attorney general claims for unfair and deceptive trade practices, and faces multiple class-action lawsuits.