Be Careful With Any "Free Trial Offers"

Have a chance to try out a product for free? What have you got to lose? It could be a lot!

If you are interested in a certain product or service, try before you buy might seem like the way to go.  But, what starts as a “free” trial or for a very low cost (just pay the shipping) might end up costing you real money.

When you sign up for a free trial some companies will use those trials to sign you up for more products.  Sometimes expensive products and lots of them.  This can cost you lots of money as they will bill you every month until you cancel!

Whether its for a vitamin, diet pill, age cream or whiter teeth all free trials eventually end.  If you do not want to purchase the product you tried, you will need to cancel or take some other action before the free trial period is up.  Most trial periods typically last anywhere from 7-30 days.  If you don’t take action, you may be charged for additional products you don’t want.

Often times the terms and conditions are hidden in tiny print, using pre-checked sign up boxes as the default setting.  Companies may also put conditions on returns and cancellations that are so strict it could be nearly impossible to stop delivery or billing.  And once these companies have your card on file they will charge you for additional products if you don’t cancel within the time period of the “free” trial.

Here are some tips to avoid the high costs of "Free Trial Offers"

  • Research the company.  See what others are saying about that particular company’s free trial offers, and its customer service.  Watch for complaints from other customers that can tip you off to catches that might come with the trial offer.
  • Find the Terms and Conditions.  If you can’t clearly find the terms and conditions for the offer or don’t understand exactly what you are agreeing to, don’t sign up!
  • Look for who is behind the offer.  Just because the offer is coming from one company doesn’t mean the offer or pop-up isn’t from someone else.
  • Watch out for pre-checked boxes.  If you sign up online for a free trial offer, look for already checked boxes.  That checkmark could give the company the go ahead to continue the offer past the free trial or sign you up for additional products that you will have to pay for.
  • Watch the calendar.  Free Trials normally have a time limit.  Make sure if you sign up that you cancel before that limit is up.  You could be on the hook for additional products you don’t want or need.
  • Read your Credit or Debit card statements regularly.  That way you will know right away if you are being charged for something you didn’t order.  Try to avoid using a DEBIT card linked to your personal checking account also.  Anytime you are online it is best to always use a CREDIT card.