Minnesota + Wisconsin Consumers Advised Be Cautious With Free Trial Offers
I think we've all had experiences with free trial offers in some way, shape, or form. For me and a lot of people I know, it involves a streaming service so they can watch a show that has created a lot of buzz.
Of course, I often forget to cancel my free trial offer before the auto-payment kicks in the next month. I'm sure companies rely on people like me to make money for as long as we forget to cancel.
With that in mind, the Better Business Bureau recognizes how a free trial offer can be a win-win situation for sellers and buyers, but they want consumers to be aware of a few aspects of free trials if they want to avoid unwanted charges.
Here's how they advise consumers to take advantage of these offers:
- Review the signup form and look for pre-checked boxes. If you sign up for a free trial online, look for boxes that have already been checked, advises the Federal Trade Commission. That checkmark "may give the company the green light to continue the offer past the free trial or sign you up for more products."
- Mark your calendar. Your free trial probably has a time limit and once it passes you'll be charged, just like I've experienced. Set up a calendar reminder to cancel on time.
- Always review your credit and debit card statements. If the company tries to sneak a charge by you, you can call them on it and let your credit card company know.
- Research the company online. Making sure a company is reputable can save you a lot of time and money. Do some research and read reviews from their past customers.
- Find the terms and conditions for the offer. Many Scam Tracker reports show that you shouldn't sign up if you can’t find the terms and conditions or understand exactly what you’re agreeing to. Check the company's website for this information.
- Want to subscribe past the free trial? Make sure you know how to cancel future shipments or services first. Knowing and understanding the cancellation policies and procedures is crucial.
Free trial offers aren't necessarily a bad thing, provided they are offered by a reputable company, just make sure to do a little research and planning so you don't end up like me and get charged for going past the initial trial period.