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Pitfalls of “Free Trial” Offers

March 30, 2018Newsletter

We have all been there. Most of us have even tried one at some point. Free trials are intriguing and enticing by design! They lure us in with amazing offers at little to no upfront cost. But be careful – or they could end up costing you big since most free trials require you to enter card information. All free trials eventually come to an end. Some companies hide their terms and conditions containing a strict cancellation policy in pre-checked sign-up boxes, or in small font somewhere. Another tactic is to offer products/services for free and charge only for shipping, which ends up costing more than you planned. Try to avoid free trial pitfalls by following these simple guidelines.

  1. Research the company online: People are not afraid to write reviews for companies, products, and free trials. See what others have to say!
  2. Find the terms and conditions: Offers will include terms and conditions somewhere. If you are finding it difficult or cannot quite seem to figure out what you are really signing up for, then do not do it!
  3. Watch out for pre-checked boxes: This clever little trick can allow companies the power to bill for more products, or automatically sign you up to pay for a club, recurring order, etc. So be vigilant and know what boxes you are allowing to be checked.
  4. Watch the timeline: Free trials usually have time limits that begin the minute you click the accept button. If you want to cancel, make sure you do so within the time limit to avoid added costs. If you do not want to cancel, just understand that charges (often recurring) will begin based on the company’s terms and conditions.
  5. Review card statements: The sooner you catch erroneous charges, the better. Contact the company directly to sort out the problem. Keep documentation of any emails, receipts, names, phone conversations, etc. in case you need to dispute a charge with your financial institution.