Everything that is free draws our attention, just as it happens with products on sale. Today free trial offers are extremely popular because the offer us the opportunity to test a product or service to see if it meets or not our requirements. The problem appears when free trial offers are not free because they are part of a trap, made to force you into sign up for a paying subscription. This means that they will charge your credit card monthly, even though you had initially no intention of purchasing their product or service.
Companies use free trial offers to sell a variety of products, such as books, cosmetics, magazines, and dietary supplements. When free trial offers have only the purpose of making you buy additional products and service, we are speaking about a term called Negative Option Marketing. This is a term used to describe commercial transactions in which they consider a customer’s cancel or reject of a product or service is an agreement to be charged for that certain product of service.
You need to understand the exact conditions of a free trial offer before you accept them. Some companies offer you the possibility to cancel the subscription during the trial period if you want to avoid receive products and services that you will have to pay. Not canceling means that you agree to pay for additional products and services and they will charge the fees on your credit card. Sometimes, customers have no idea there is specific a cancellation period of the trial.
Even though the information is on the website, is discretely mentioned in the section Terms and Conditions and is hardly noticed by most of the customers. Read carefully the terms of the trial, because you will know exactly how much time you have to cancel the trial and what happens exactly if you accept it. Will you be enrolled in a subscription or a contract that obliges you to pay for additional products and services? Do you want to enroll in a membership? What happens if you don’t cancel the trial? What costs do you have to support? These are just some of the questions you need to find answers before you join any free trial offer.
After all, it is hard to believe that today we can get something for free. When this happens, we doubt the quality of the products and services that we can test for free. However, there are serious offers and quality products are worth trying. In addition, if we pay attention and prepare for the worst, we can prevent unpleasant situations.
How do free trial offers work?
Many customers are unsatisfied of how free trial offers work and we cannot blame them. When you see a pop-up advert while you spend some time on the Internet, it convinces you that you will receive a test product for free and the only thing you will have to pay is the postage and packaging of the products for the trial period.
You need to enter your payment details for postage and packaging; you enter your credit card number and sing up to a continuous payment authority. This means you agreed to a monthly payment and the company will withdraw money from your account every month, without you knowing it.
The continuous payment authority is not something new because millions of people use it daily to make regular payments. Unfortunately, you will have no idea to what you are signing up for because the terms and conditions are added in small print and difficult to see. Therefore, you could agree to a continuous payment authority and have no idea about it. You will find it out when you will receive a card statement, but it will be too late. Therefore, not all free trial offers are 100% free.
After you paid $4.95 for shipping and handling fees, you imagine this is the entire cost you will have to pay, but it is not true. When the trial period ends, you will be charged for the full purchase price, which can be 20 times more expensive than shipping charges. These things happen frequently and are not inventions. There are companies that manage in this way to sell their products, although it is not fair to proceed this way. These companies grow, while people lose their money on a product they don’t want to buy from the beginning.
There are different types of free trial scams. The auto-ship scams ask you to enter the credit card number to pay the shipping cost for the product you will receive for free. It is enough to take a close look at the terms and conditions and see that you ordered 30 days supply for every month. It doesn’t sound too good, does it? It can be quite difficult to find out exactly how much the product costs because some websites don’t print any price.
Even though free trials are popular today, they are so cleverly designed that it seems difficult for some of us to realize that are simply scams. People really think they can get a free product to test it, and the real surprise comes later, within 10 days, 30 days, 60 days or whenever the trial period ends. So, when you less expected, you will have a huge surprise that won’t please you. With some luck, you can cancel any subscription and avoid additional costs in the coming months.
What can you do if you already have been scammed by a free trial promoter?
It can easily happen to be scammed by an unserious free trial promoter. They create attractive ads with products that draw our attention, which they offer for free. Not all of us can resist the temptation of using a new weight loss product or a rich source of probiotics. We see free trial offers everywhere, not only in the health sector. They offer us the opportunity to subscribe to receive magazines, books, CDs and many other products for free, but nothing is free.
Once we find out that our credit card is charged monthly for buying a product of which we have no idea, we need to cancel the free trial and prevent future charges. You may feel embarrassed if you are in this position, but you are not the one to blame because you are the victim of a scam. It could happen to everyone and millions of people fall into the trap of some clever promoters.
The first thing you need to do, as soon as you find out is to contact your credit company and bank, to explain the situation, because it is important to cancel your card. After you cancel your card, you can order another one with different information. Now you have to cancel the order, which can be a real challenge for you because is not that easy.
It helps if you collect as much information as possible about the company that offered you the free trial. Look at the billing and delivering dates, try to remember where did you see the adverts and find out the company name, address, and telephone number. Also, it is important to remember the company website and to try to find the terms and conditions. Using all this information, you can try to contact the company and receive your money back, which can be another adventure.
Companies that offer these so-called free trials make everything extremely difficult for people who want to contact them. Because they work with call centers, arm yourself with a lot of patience because it will take time until someone will respond you. You can expect to be put on hold for long periods, but if you manage to get through, continue to be calm, focusing on your objective – to cancel any subscription and monthly order.
Explain how they mislead you into signing up for a free trial that you desperately want to cancel. The person on the other end has the job to turn away as many refunds as they can. Even though it is not correct, they are just trying to earn a living and is not their fault for all the situation. Still, you need to remain focus and calm, especially if you manage to talk to an operator.
Are free trial offers legal?
The companies that offer free trials do only thing, which is to mislead us into signing up for their subscription. Knowing this, it is natural to ask yourself how come that these free trials are legal. Either you like it or not, companies are free to sell their products at any price they like, even to offer them for free and to use different refund policies that work only to their advantage. They offer you the possibility to cancel your auto ship program. When you are not canceling, the companies assumes that you want to receive their product every month.
These means that these companies are legal and offer legal free trials, whether we like it or not. You cannot argue the law, but you can prevent these situations just by analyzing everything before you subscribe to a free trial offer. Therefore, you need to know how much you will pay for the trial and the duration of the trial. It is also important to know how much you will pay when the trial ends and how can you receive a refund if this possibility exists.
How to protect yourself from free trails
It is easy to avoid being scams by different free trial offers. As soon as you discovered an interesting commercial that promotes an attractive product, make research on the company and find out if it is serious. Another important thing you need to do before agreeing to anything is to read the terms and conditions. These could be difficult to find, but there have to be somewhere on the page, in a small corner. After you see the terms and conditions, read them carefully and see information about billing, refunds, and cancellations.
Before you click send, look for options that could have already been selected for you. They could check a box in which you agree to an auto-ship program. If you have all the information you need and you know exactly what you have to do to cancel a free trial, then you can click ok, but not before you take every precaution.
Do you have the option to cancel the subscription before the trial period ends? Then you need to mark on your calendar the date when the trial ends, to avoid entering a new billing cycle. If you only paid a small shipping fee, after the free trial ends, you could pay a lot more, just because you forgot to cancel in a good time or you knew nothing about it.
We cannot say if all the free trial offers are bad. Some companies use these free trials as a way of improving their business and reputation, which means they don’t try to mislead you, but it is better to be well informed every time you purchase something online. We cannot ignore the millions of people who got scammed by unserious companies and trust free trial offers.
As a customer, you have the duty to gather information about the company that offers you something for free. Make sure it is really for free and it doesn’t involve additional costs. Even though they claim to offer for free an incredible product that will change your life forever, be careful what decision you will take, because it can change your life in an unpleasant way. Even if you are not spending thousands of dollars, but a hundred dollars a month, it is better to keep the money rather than spend it on useless products you do not need.
The next time you see a unique product or service that seems to meet your expectation, think twice before you agree to anything. Not only that you will save money, but you will get rid of the stress and annoyance of being tricked.