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Home / NICU Blog / When A Free Trial Turns Into An Expensive Mistake

When A 'Free Trial' Turns Into An Expensive Mistake

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Many of us like the concept of ‘try before you buy’. Test it out and see if the product or service is worth it. Just make sure you read the fine print. As sometimes, the offers are not truly free.

There could be minor purchases required for the free trial to kick in, there could be activation fees, and there could even be return shipping charges if you’ve received a ‘free’ test item that you want to send back.

If you don’t read all the details and understand what you are ‘signing’ up for it can be a very expensive free trial. And unfortunately for you, if you have accepted the terms and conditions, your financial institution is not liable for your losses.
Fixing mistakes

Email or contact the company concerned to find out the following:

  1. Clarify the free trial period
  2. When are payments debited?
  3. What is considered an opt-out or cancellation to ensure a debit to your account is not triggered?

NOTE: These companies are almost always offshore and do not operate under our Australian marketing laws. The dispute is between you and the company and in most cases you will have to contact the company to request a refund and cancel the subscription.

Let’s take a look at two common scenarios:

Free trial – online services

‘One month free trial’, sound familiar? Perhaps it’s for an online video streaming service, access to ancestry records, or a new app. Signing up is easy, and you usually need to include your credit or debit card details to kick start the trial. You will only be charged the monthly fee after the first month. Generally there isn’t a catch, but the only way to find out is to READ, READ, READ the terms and conditions BEFORE you accept. Sometimes the details of the ongoing costs are not in the terms and conditions, you may need to look further into the ‘payment details’.

Free trial – physical goods

Some free trials involve receiving a physical product, such as makeup or anti-ageing products. You are required to send the product back if you are not happy to continue with the subscription, however, there will always be a deadline/timeframe. What is the date? Is it from the date you signed up to the product trial or is it from the day you receive the goods? You need to know this BEFORE you accept the terms and conditions and sign or click your life away, or more importantly you credit or debit card details.

Why avoid free trials?

  • You need to provide your personal information – this may means loads of junk mail in your email inbox or postal box or worst case scenario there is a risk of identity theft and sharing your financial information online.
  • Difficult cancellation process – Always read the details to determine whether the cancellation is as easy as the sign up process.
  • Remember to cancel - Set a reminder in your phone prior to the end of the free trial so that you can assess whether you like the product or service and cancel before payments begin.

Overall, there can be far more disadvantages to free trial offers than advantages. You shouldn’t be signing up for random services you don’t even really need or want because they’re “free.” There are simply too many risks involved, and if you’re not careful, these offers can cost you a lot of money.

Most importantly, if you are considering an offer, read through the fine print and find out what the cancellation process entails before you move forward.


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