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Free Trial Offers: What You Must Know

Free Trials can Cost YouAre free trial offers really free, or is there usually a catch?  This can be an effective and legitimate marketing strategy to attract new customers.

Many free trials options are genuine.  But there are occasions when the small print has conditions that you would not agree to if you knew about or fully understood them.

It can turn out to be a win-win situation when a business has enough confidence in its product to offer a test drive. Or to provide access to a free version with basic features to encourage a sale.

Beware when you see statements such as “Risk Free Offer”.  Often a free trial will have a forward date by which you must cancel or your credit card will be charged.

I learned a lesson after having a bad experience of battling for several months to cancel an auto-billing. One should only have to give minimum information, such as name and email address, until one decides to buy.

If you are required to provide your payment details upfront, you might want to take a breath and think twice before giving your credit card details.

At the very least, do research first.The internet has no shortage of stories about people who signed up thinking they were getting something totally for free and it did not turn out that way. Be careful out there!

Free Trial Offer Safety Tips

  • Perform due diligence via search engines and review websites.
  • Research the company and what people think about the product.
  • Don’t rely on testimonials presented by the company or owners.
  • Find unbiased reviews by independent consumers.
  • Watch the Federal Trade Commission Video – be informed.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a video that explains what you must know to avoid the downside of some free trial offers.  Consider viewing it before you sign up for a free offer of any kind, especially if they ask for your credit card details before you get access to the free trial.

Free Trials Can Cost You – Consumer Information Video –  Visit the FTC site.

FTC video Free Trials Can Cost You

If you enjoyed or benefited reading this post, I welcome your comments on what you think about free trial offers generally and to share your experiences.

Jude Banks - Bridging The Gap

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Comments 6

  • It happened to me with a slimming product. Thought I was getting it free for 30 days and could cancel any time before then. I even phoned them to check that, but always got a message saying “all operators are engaged, please call back”. That should have warned me not to go ahead.

    To my horror, started getting charged to my credit card right away. In the end, I had to cancel the credit card to stop the payments.

    The 30 day free trial was clearly stated, yet they started charging right away. They argued that it meant you have to pay, then will get your money back after 30 days but have to ask for a refund. That’s not what the ad said.

    Finally got my money back through the credit card provider but it took over 10 weeks.

    Never accept a free trial if you have to give your payment details. If it is really free, they should only ask for your payment details after the free trial period.

    Thanks for your post. Wish I had read it sooner!

    Melissa

    • I’m sorry about your nightmare experience with a 30 day free trial offer, Melissa. I’m glad you finally got your money back. Even the most diligent person can get caught up in this situation. I had a similar experience and after recurrent billings my bank suggested I cancel the credit card, which finally put an end to the charges.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and sharing your experience. It can help others who come by and read this information to remember to take extra care the next time they consider taking up a free trial offer. ~Jude

  • You raise some important points that consumers need to keep in mind when shopping online. I find it hard to resist some free offers but have learned the hard way that one needs to be careful and look into the company and what others say before taking up such offers.

    By the way, I adore your wordpress design, where would you download it from?

    • The theme is from WP Puzzle. You can find it at: https://wp-puzzle.com/ This is not an affiliate link…lol. If you decide to try it, let me know if you need any help. I am using the Pro Basic theme.

      I couldn’t agree with you more about the need to be careful with free trial offers. Awareness of these issues is the key.

      Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your comment. ~Jude

  • I discovered your blog site on google and checked a few of your early posts. Useful info.

    What you say is true about the need to be careful with free trial offers. They can be tempting. It is easy to be caught up innocently in a scam or an aggressive company that pushes one into other offers that you don’t need.

    Looking forward to reading more from you later as your website develops. -Bernd

    • I think ‘awareness’ is important. With so many distractions online, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting one’s guard down and being too trusting. Thanks for stopping by, Bernd. I appreciate your feedback. All the best. ~Jude

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