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A Free(?) Trial

We all like free stuff. I especially like free samples at the pastry counter at Fresh Market.

But what if just by sampling one piece of chocolate cake at the counter, whole cakes — and the charges for them — started showing up at my house and on my credit card?

That’s what would happen if Fresh Market asked for my credit card — even though the chocolate cake samples were absolutely free.

This is how it often happens on the internet:

You see a product, service or subscription that advertises a 30-day free trial. To take advantage of the offer, you are asked to enter your credit card information. This should give you pause. If it’s free …

By asking for your payment information, the offer most likely includes fine print that says that your free trial will automatically become a paid subscription unless you contact them to cancel within a specific time.

You may intend to cancel, but may not realize — or you may forget — it’s your responsibility to do so. When you finally call to dispute the credit card charge, the company will probably cancel your order, but may not credit you for that first month’s payment.

My advice:

  • Be wary of free trials that require a credit card
  • Read some independent reviews about the product/service before you decide to sample it
  • Read the fine print about the cancellation policy before you sign up
  • Put a reminder (with the company’s contact information) on your calendar for a few days before the cancellation deadline

Enjoy free trials but be smart about them. Or just stick to the really free pastry…