Free Trials Can Cost You

Free trial programs often come with catches — expensive catches. If you get an offer to try a product or service for “free” be sure to read the fine print and know how to stop a company from billing you if you’re not interested in buying after the trial period is over.

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Many of us want to have more energy, be more organized, or simply save money.

Maybe it’s a new vitamin, a color-coded calendar, or an all-purpose kitchen gadget.

It could be almost anything.

So when you hear about a Free Trial that could let you try a product before committing to buy it — well, what’ve you got to lose?

Sometimes, there’s a downside to those offers… Some companies use free trials to turn you into a long-term customer rather than a trial subscriber.

Other companies may use free trials as a way to sign you up for other products than the ones you wanted to try.

They might hide the terms — deep within the fine print — that allows them to bill you every month until you cancel.

And that means they’ve enrolled you to receive other products — sometimes LOTS of products — which, in turn, can cost you LOTS of money you hadn’t budgeted for.

There are other things that might cause a headache, if you’re not careful.

How can you avoid the costs that might be hiding in some Free Trial programs?

First, research the company online. See what other people are saying about their Free Trials — and about their service. Complaints from other customers are a red flag.

Second, if a box is pre-checked for you– UNCHECK IT.

That little checkmark can be the symbol that gives the company the green light to continue the offer past the free trial or to sign you up for additional items… which would make that free trial offer anything but.

Third – Mark your calendar. Your free trial probably has a time limit. And once it passes without you telling them to cancel your “order,” you may be on the hook for more than you bargained for.

Fourth – Read your credit card statements carefully to make sure you’re not being charged for something you didn’t order.

Okay, so what happens if a Free Trial enrolls you without your permission?

Here’s what to do: Contact the merchant directly for help to sort out the situation. If that doesn’t work – call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Your goal is to have the credit card company reverse the charge because you didn’t actively order the additional merchandise.

They say the best things in life are free – and free trials can be great. But won’t you feel good knowing that you’ve done everything you can to get exactly what you want?

To learn more about Free Trial Offers visit FTC.Gov/freetrials. If you’ve been charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. We’re the Federal Trade Commission – helping consumers spot, stop and avoid scams.

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