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Beware of “free” trial products that end up not being so “free.”
This scam can take on various forms, but usually the company will let you try a product (such as a diet pill, anti-wrinkle cream, teeth whitener, etc.) for a small shipping fee or for your credit card information. They say, if you don’t like it, just cancel or return it before a certain time period. “Great,” you think, “I’ve got nothing to lose!”
But then, the company makes it so hard (if not, impossible) to cancel. For example, the company will give you 15 days from their “initial ship date” to cancel or be charged, but you won’t get the product until after the 15 days are up! You end up paying for several months of the “free” product.
Even worse, the company might enroll you in additional offers or products for more monthly fees that you did not even know about.
Other “free” offers can include signing up for product subscriptions, like book, CD, or magazine clubs, or perhaps an online dating service. Companies will offer a promotional time period or an introductory package of products, but require that you enroll in a program that bills you monthly or automatically renews your subscription at the end of that time period.
Here are a few tips to help you spot deceptive free trial offers and avoid unwanted costs.
If you have been wrongly charged for a free trial offer, first try working it out with the company. If that doesn’t work, call your credit card company to dispute the charge and ask that they reverse it.
You can also report the company to the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Better Business Bureau.
For more information on protecting yourself against “free” trial offer scams, see the FTC’s page titled, “Free Trial Offers?”.