Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Beware Free Items Tied to Trial Subscriptions

If you’ve ever ordered a “free” credit report or credit score, you’re likely already familiar with trial subscriptions. But, the credit reporting industry isn’t the only place where this scheme is used. Numerous companies bait you into subscribing to their service by offering a free trial. The hope is that you’ll either like the service and continue using it (and of course, paying) or you’ll forget to cancel your trial and still end up paying.

Here’s how trial subscriptions work. The company pitches a product or service to you. They give you a certain amount of time you use it for free, like 7 or 30 days. Your trial is free as long as you cancel before the trial period is up. However, if you forget to cancel or you cancel after the trial period, that’s when you start getting charged.

Many people don’t completely understand the fine print associated with trial subscriptions. Often, the terms and conditions are poorly explained, details may be deliberately left out, and customers are left with recurring monthly, quarterly, or annual charges they don’t actually want.

How do you know if you’re signing up for a trial subscription? It’s usually easy to tell whether the company ultimately wants to charge you – they ask for a payment method, like your credit or debit card number or your checking account information. They’ll file this information and use it to charge you if you don’t to cancel your trial subscription in the time period.

Avoiding the recurring charges is fairly simple; you just have to cancel before the end of the trial. Cancel a day or two ahead of time just to be sure your trial is cancelled in time. Often, when you’re trying to cancel, you’ll be pitched other services or asked to continue your service. Just stay the course. Continue to insist that you want to cancel your service. Make a note of your cancellation and any associated confirmation number on your calendar in case there’s ever a question about when you cancelled.

Don’t worry too much if you forget to cancel before the trial period ends. Cancel as soon as you remember. You may end up being charged for a full month or, in some cases, the company may prorate the charges based on the time that’s passed since your trial period ended.

Unfortunately, companies don’t always properly cancel your service as requested. This can result in recurring charges that you may not catch until you’ve already been billed for several services. Watch your credit card and bank statement for charges you didn’t authorize. This is the best way to spot recurring charges from subscriptions that were never properly cancelled. If you spot something like this, call the company once again to cancel and ask that you be refunded charges from the months that your cancellation should have been effective. If that doesn’t work, contact your bank or creditor to handle the issue.

If your payment information changes, e.g. you close your account or your card is renewed, the subscription may not automatically renew your payment information. Unfortunately, companies may not simply cancel your account because they don’t have the accurate payment information. Instead, you’ll continue to accrue charges and if you don’t update your payment information, the company can end up sending you to a collection agency. Remember that collection accounts hurt your credit score, so if your account information changes, make sure any recurring billers have your new information.
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Monday, 19 August 2019

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