How to Avoid Free Trial Scams?

How much can a supplement manufacturer ruin your life (or, at least your finances)? How much can a third party or supplier of tech products, workout boosters, and diet pills trick you? The answer to these questions is a lot.

We have all heard about free trial scams and autoship programs that seem too good to be true. Well…in reality they aren’t. They are just scams, tricks, shady actions done by companies to lure you in, make you believe that you will be paying next to nothing and secretly charging you extra until you check your credit card statement.

It should be said that there are, indeed, honest businesses which solely wish to get more customers by creating the opportunity to have the product tested for small amounts of money (usually just handling and delivery fees), enrolling people into an auto shipment program.

This is, of course, convenient for everyone, especially for the start-up business which simply wants to get on the right track and attract customers. The bad thing is that there are plenty of companies which simply follow their own agenda and try to trick people into enrolling into their ‘free’ trial, then charging them quite a lot of money and offering poor quality services.
How can we avoid these shady businesses and still try out products for minimum costs? How can we appreciate if a product is bad or good? Can we still trust manufacturers when they say that we might benefit from a ‘free’ trial run period? The answer is yes…

How can we avoid these shady businesses and still try out products for minimum costs? How can we appreciate if a product is bad or good? Can we still trust manufacturers when they say that we might benefit from a ‘free’ trial run period? The answer is yes…

There is still hope if you take the time to document yourself on what should be done before accepting the terms and conditions set up by companies. We will help you understand what are the steps to take in order to check the company, verify that it is well intended and look for reviews or customer claims on websites, blogs, forums, or other sources. Without further ado, here are the rules to avoid free trial scams.

Conduct a research about the company- this is perhaps the most important rule to be followed by clients, as if you have no idea what the business is about, how it got to sell specific products or how it can manage to offer you your desired service or item, then it will be very easy to be fooled.

So, go on and do your homework, checking and verifying the business online. Read not only the main website but also the Terms and Conditions page, look up the entire list of services, products, items, shipment and handling fees, history and so on. Another good idea would be to go on forums or special blogs or websites where you might be able to find complaints, reviews from previous customers or basically anything that might help you better understand what the business is all about. Another good tip to avoid free trial scams would be to check the rating by getting in touch with the Better Business Bureau or see whether or not a Rip Off Report exists.

Be sure to do all these steps before clicking on the ‘Add to cart’ option, ‘Rush my order’ or signing up for the auto ship program. Should you happen to encounter a business which does not openly disclose the full ‘free’ of charge trial or the details of the autoshipment option, then this might speak volumes of how ‘well-intended’ it might be. Also, it should be said that, when digging for information, you should be on the lookout for:

Name of the company
Clear and concise contact details (valid phone number, correct e-mail address, physical address, region, postal code and so on)
List of services and/or products
Product ingredients and ‘how they work’
Potential side effects of items
Any possible restrictions when using the product (not to be mixed with other supplements, meds, not intended for women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or on special medications to get pregnant, elderly, those with heart problems and so on and so forth)

Of major importance is the Terms and Conditions page which should include the following in clear writing:
How much you would have to pay at the beginning (shipment and handling fee)
How much you would have to pay at the end of the trial run
The length of the free of charge trial
If you will be signed for an autoship type of program (prior to your consent or automatically)

What happens if you are dissatisfied with the product or service

Refund information (all the details you might need regarding shipment and handling fees, restocking charges, rule to send the box back to the company and so on)

The terms and conditions page might be way too lengthy and certainly boring, but reading all the pages about the company per se, the product, and the program are of utmost importance. You might have to skim through some details in order not to lose way too much time.

A good tip to help you get all the important information would be to cross read or even make use of the tools provided by your laptop. For instance, press the control button (Ctrl) and F at the same time in order to find a specific term, like trial or autoship program. For Mac computers, you should press Command + F. For other variations, try adding an extra space or a dash. (some companies might use, for instance, ‘auto-ship’, ‘auto ship’ or ‘autoship’).

Furthermore, in order to make it easier for you, you are recommended to open certain web sections in another tab so that you have all the information at hand. This would be the fastest way to research a business and the products or programs it has to offer.

Taking the time to read other customers’ reviews is also essential. This will ensure that you have all the small details, tips or find out all the bad things about the company or product at hand.

Canceling a free trial and the autoship program which might follow- after following the above mentioned golden rule, it would be essential to keep in mind another one which might help you avoid scams: how to cancel the trial should you feel dissatisfied with the product. First off, let’s tackle the issue of canceling the order before the expiration date of the trial. These trial periods (particularly those from less than stellar companies) most of the time begin on the day that the order is placed and not the one in which you gladly receive the item.

The worst thing that could happen is ordering a bottle or a box on a Friday afternoon, the company or third party stating that it might take up to 5 business days to send the item. Thus, you will manage to try out the product only after about 8 days. Ultimately, you have fewer days to see if the product is good for you or not, but your dissatisfaction already grows. In order to avoid such a bad situation from happening, it would be essential to not sign up for the trial in the first place (obviously) and, second, wait until it is Monday to order the product (avoiding also holidays or other celebrations).

Another important piece of advice would be to mark the calendar way before the trial expires so that you have plenty of time to cancel and get a refund or avoid being scammed with the automatic shipment of the product. Furthermore, it would be essential to keep in mind that many businesses, especially the not so hot ones can generally let you know how much time you might need to step back in order to avoid extra charges.

In the Terms and Conditions page, you can also find such clauses under ‘trial’ keywords (use the same method underlined above with the ‘find’ tool). What is more, some businesses will stipulate in the contract that open/used items are not to be sent for a refund.

This will happen even if you get in touch with them and respect all the other clauses regarding timing or the free of charge trial. When it comes to canceling after the trial ends, things could get pretty ugly as well. Should you mark your calendar and forget to cancel the order, you might end up paying a whole lot more for a bottle or a box you will never use. If your trial has expired and you have already been charged for the full price, then you ought to call the customer service department as soon as possible.

Should you be dealing with a shady business, doing this will prevent you from being scammed or billed the full price. The essential thing would be to be clear and concise when you make your demands and keep following up until everything is resolved and you are 100% satisfied. If you are not content and nobody seems to do anything to help you out, you might want to involve your credit card company. Usually, this helps in pushing the limits a little bit more and appearing to threaten the company at hand for its poor quality product and service.
It is important to note that you will commence a legally binding contract with the company, thus the whole charade is 100% legal. Thus, if your contract tells you that you will be automatically signed up for a free trial which, after 14 days, will charge you 80 dollars, for instance, then you are technically bound to accept. This does not mean that businesses or third parties can do whatever they please, it just entails that, should you reach out to your credit card company to complain, then they won’t issue a refund right away.

Instead, just like any other shady business or uncomfortable situation, you might have to prove your case by making print screens, circling out the parts where the autoship details and handling and delivery fees are mentioned and so on and so forth. You have to have all the e-mails that the respective company has sent you in order to pile up enough proof to ‘win the case’. Without these documents, pictures, e-mails or text messages, we are afraid that it won’t be possible to get your money back as soon as you might like, or get them at all for that matter.

Speak out about your bad experience and learn to file complaints- sure, you might think that after being scammed there’s nothing that you could do. Actually, things could not more different. You could try to sign up on a certain forum or website and write your opinion on the subject, informing others about your ‘free’ trial and autoship experience and letting them know all about the rude and careless behavior of the company representatives.

Furthermore, you can give all the details regarding the scam that you have gone through, advising others to do their research well ahead in time and not accepting anything less than satisfactory. When it comes to filing complaints, it would be important to reach out to other companies or organizations as well. For instance, your credit card company is certainly not the only one you could go talk to. Filing complaints can be done to the following: Consumer Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission, state Attorney General, state agencies, local consumer agencies, NGOs and so on and so forth.

Highya or Better Business Bureau are two consumer advocacy organizations that can help you. All you have to do is go on their website and leave out your feedback. This way you could really make a difference in people’s lives and manage to trash the reputation of that business which scammed you and charged you extra for something you did not even like or wanted to receive via mail. Who knows, maybe potential clients will log in and read the few lines you decide to write in order to convince themselves that what they are getting into is not good at all.