Newsstand is an app that comes with iOS 7 on the Apple iPhone and iPad, and it enables you to subscribe to magazines and newspapers. Sometimes these are digital versions of print magazines, but they could be web-based too. Subscribing is easy, but have you ever tried to cancel a subscription? The iPhone does not appear to let you and you are trapped in a never-ending subscription that is costing you money. Here's how to get out of it.
Before looking at the solution, let's look at the subscription process. Each app has its own subscription facility and this means that every subscription looks different. There will be a button or menu and this will display one or more subscription offers. Tap a subscription offer and you are prompted to enter your Apple ID (iTunes Store) password. You are then subscribed to the publication.
Sometimes there is a free trial, so you get the first week or month free (it usually depends on whether it is a weekly or monthly publication), and once the trial is over, you start paying monthly or weekly. The money is automatically taken from your credit card at regular intervals like any other Apple iTunes/App Store purchase.
You might subscribe, but then change your mind. If it is a free trial, you should be able to cancel before the end of the trial period and you won't then be charged. If it is not a free trial and it is a normal subscription, you can only cancel the next recurring payment.
This is an important point and if you take out a monthly subscription, the payments are monthly and so if you cancel, it stops from the next month. If you subscribe for a year, which is often the cheapest offer, you can only cancel the recurring annual payment. You cannot take out a one-year subscription, cancel after four months and get a refund on the eight months remaining. Once you have paid, there are no refunds.
For this reason I would always recommend getting a short subscription to a publication rather than a long one. If you pay weekly, you can cancel the next weekly payment, but if it's annual you're stuck with it till next year.
All of this assumes, of course, that you can cancel your subscription and you can in theory, but not in practise. To cancel a Newsstand magazine or newspaper subscription you must go to the App Store icon on the iPhone. Scroll down the home page - the featured section - and tap your Apple ID at the bottom. Choose the option to view your Apple ID in the list of menu options. Find the Subscriptions section on the Apple ID screen and tap Manage.
You will now have a list of active subscriptions on the screen. Tap the subscription you want to cancel and this is a typical example of what you see on the iPhone:
What you must do is turn off Auto-Renewal, it says so on the screen. Firstly, you cannot see whether Auto-Renewal is currently on or off, and secondly, tapping Auto-Renewal does nothing. It is actually turned on by default when you subscribe to a newspaper or magazine in the Newsstand app. The problem is that you cannot turn it off on the iPhone. I tried with several subscriptions to various publications and never once got it to do anything.
So are you stuck in a never-ending subscriber payments trap? If you only have an iPhone then the answer is yes. There is a solution though, and if you have an iPad or a computer with iTunes on, you can use that instead. Here is the same subscription viewed on an iPad:
Notice the Auto-Renewal on/off button? Yes, it's there on my iPad, but not on my iPhone. On the iPad I can turn off Auto-Renewal and cancel a subscription to a Newsstand publication, but on the iPhone I can't. Running iTunes on the computer also showed the Auto-Renewal on/off button too. So that's the answer - use a computer or the iPad to cancel subscriptions. It's tough luck if you don't have either.