Avoid Fake Free Trial Offers And how To Spot Them

November 15, 2019

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Free trial offers are a double-edge sword. On the one hand, you get a chance to sample a product or service without making a full commitment.  On the other hand, they can be difficult to cancel to prevent an automatic enrollment (and payment) if you are not a fan of it. A recent survey found 59% of people who signed up for free trials later found they had been charged against their will. Complaints about not-so-free trials doubled between 2015 and 2017, with the Better Business Bureau receiving nearly 400,000 complaints and reports involving free trial offers over the last three years, with the most commonly involved products of skin creams, diet pills and vitamins topping the list. Making matters worse is the Internet and social media, where real free trial offers are mixing in with fake offers, which many contain celebrity endorsements and nearly impossible access to cancel. So before you sign up for a free trial, do some checking around. Do an online search for reviews of the company to see what others have said about the free-trial offers and cancellation process. You can also check the BBB website for complaints about the company and its responses. If you see numerous negative reviews and unresolved complaints, that can put you on notice that the free sample offer may end up costing you money.  Look for transparency. Reputable retailers provide a straightforward process for canceling further charges, such as clicking an unsubscribe link on a confirmation email or changing a setting on your account page. However you will have to seek out this information. Take a close look at the fine print in the terms and conditions, as well as small-font disclosures on the order page. If you cannot find the terms and conditions, or you don’t understand the wording, it’s probably best not to sign up. As a precaution, take screenshots of your online purchases, showing the disclosures of the free-trial offer and what terms you agreed to. And be sure to keep copies of your email confirmations, as well as any paperwork that arrived with the product. If you need to dispute the charges with your bank, this information will make it easier for you to get your money back.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

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