Your Free Trial May Not Be All That Free
From a whiter smile to bigger muscles to jewelry – we’ve all seen the free trial offers at some point. And while offering a free trial of a product or service is perfectly legal, consumers should still be wary. The fine print on these offers can end up costing hundreds of dollars if you don’t know what you’re signing yourself up for.
How Free Trials Work
You’re on Amazon or Facebook when a free trial ad pops up. When you click on the ad, you are redirected to another website in order to claim your free trial. And although many free trials have testimonials or claim celebrities use their products, most rely on the fact that many people do not actually read the fine print.
The terms and conditions for all these free trial offers are usually the same. Usually the terms and conditions for the free trial offer state that if you do not cancel or return the item after 14 days, they will charge you full price. Then they will send you another month supply 30 days later and charge you again each month until you cancel the subscription. Fortunately, if you do return the product within 30 days you will receive a full refund. In some cases, even after 30 days you can still get a partial refund.
Want to avoid the free trial headache?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind before clicking the “I agree” checkbox on any free trial offer:
- If it seems too good to be true it probably is; oftentimes, the products offered do not live up to the standard the ads present.
- Free doesn’t always mean free. If you are asked to provide your credit card information, this is a red flag that you will be charged later (i.e. once your free trial expires).
- Just because the advertisement has appeared on a trusted site doesn’t mean you can necessarily trust the company behind the product.
- Know those terms and conditions no one wants to take the time to read? Before checking the box, thoroughly read through the terms and conditions no matter how boring and daunting it may seem.
If you do find yourself the victim of these dishonest business practices from a free trial offer, report it to the FTC. You also can contact your local consumer protection agency and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. If you notice any suspicious charges on your credit card after signing up for a free trial, contact our Fraud Protection team for more information about what you should do next.