Evaluating Free Trial Offers

Helpful tips for evaluating “free trial” offers.

Free trial offers can be a great way to try out new products or services without making a long-term commitment. Although not all trial offers are not the same, they all come with specific conditions. It’s important that you understand the fine print before accepting these offers so you don’t end up with unintended consequences. Few things are truly “free” today, so you’ll want to approach these situations with a degree of skepticism and discernment.

Before making a commitment:

·         Take your time when making online purchases.

·         To protect yourself, read the entire offer carefully before deciding whether it is right for you. Be on the lookout for pre-checked boxes; you may unknowingly be giving permission to send and charge you for products other than advertised, or you may be accepting the terms and conditions automatically.

·         Always read the Terms and Conditions to understand when your trial period ends and what the return policy and cancellation requirements are. Following the steps as outlined is essential to ensure you won’t incur subsequent charges if your intent is to cancel.

·         Do research on the company before you commit to the offer. Look for reviews, complaints and especially look for the word “scam” associated with the company. Doing your homework will help protect you from being taken advantage of and making a purchase for something “free” that ends up costing you more than what you bargained for.

·         Look for who’s behind the offer. Although one product is being advertised, there may be additional products associated within the ad that are available but not necessarily billed by the same company, and may have different terms and conditions.   

·         Avoid pop-up ads. These ads lead you to another link that is only associated with the ad and is difficult to find later if contact needs to be made with the merchant. Always make your online purchases directly from a specific website.

Exercising care and reading the fine print will go a long way toward protecting you before you make a purchase that will end up costing you more than what you bargained for.

After you’ve committed:

·         Not all trial offers are out to mislead or scam you. If you decide that you want to take advantage of trying a product or service before making a long term commitment, mark your calendar with a reminder to cancel your membership or service before the trial period expires. The trial periods are generally short such as 7, 14 or 30 days in length.

·         Keep proof of cancellation; this could be a cancellation number that the company provides you or an email from the company acknowledging receipt of your cancellation.

·         Subsequent charges with proof of cancellation:  If the company subsequently charges you for membership or service after you have cancelled, you will need to follow up with the company to request a refund. You should be prepared to provide them with your cancellation # and date of cancellation. If you continue to see subsequent charges after speaking with the company and receiving their assurance that the issue has been resolved, please contact Rogue Credit Union for further assistance.

·         If you did not cancel or cancelled after the trial offer expiration date: Once a trial offer expires, a subsequent charge may occur and after the trial period. To cancel under this scenario, you will need to contact the company to request cancelation and any possible refund. Be sure to retain the proof of cancellation information until you are confident the issue has been successfully resolved.

Above all, remember If what is being offered seems “too good to be true”, chances are it is and you may want to pass.