Adaptive Affinity Limited, which operates multiple membership schemes that offer shopping discount rewards and credit protection services, was investigated by the OFT on its own initiative. Customers are enrolled in these schemes through various Adaptive Affinity websites, which may be presented to them through different mechanisms, such as pop-ups or search engines, sometimes following another transaction or the sign-up process for a separate Adaptive Affinity scheme. Customers are charged from £9.95 to £29.95 per month for each membership scheme they are signed up for, with some being signed up for two, resulting in charges of up to £59.90 per month. The OFT was concerned that Adaptive Affinity Limited was not taking enough measures to ensure that customers were aware of their payment liabilities. Some customers only found out they had been enrolled in the membership schemes after seeing the charges on their bank statements.
During the investigation, the OFT reviewed customer complaints and information provided by Adaptive Affinity Limited, including the information presented to consumers on its websites. The OFT found that Adaptive Affinity Limited may have breached certain provisions of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs), as it failed to provide clear information to consumers about the terms of the contract, the nature of the service provided, and the time when they would incur a monthly charge if they did not cancel their subscription during the trial period. Customers were not adequately informed about the consequences of accepting an offer that claimed to be free, a gift, or a reward, and they were not made aware of being signed up for a service or the associated charges. Additionally, Adaptive Affinity Limited did not have sufficient procedures in place to review advertising material produced and circulated by its partners and affiliates on its behalf or to control their conduct and actions. Lastly, some of the standard terms and conditions of its membership schemes contained potentially unfair terms.