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Subscription Trap Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced a settlement with a snack food delivery service. The company had not been making their terms clear enough.
The snack food business had been promoting free trials through sponsored reviews. What was not made clear to consumers was that, when the free trial ended, a paid subscription service would kick in.
Subscription traps have become a big problem. It’s easy to fall for a deal that appears to offer something for nothing, or at a very low cost. Some trial offers are legitimate and transparent. Some are not.
Here’s everything you need to know about trial offer subscription traps:
Trial Offer Subscription Traps – How They Work
Trial offer subscription traps have become very common. They are all over the internet. Subscription traps sometimes come in the form of robocalls. They also exist as pop up advertising.
Subscription traps exist for many different types of products. The list includes beauty products, diet pills, and movie and music streaming services. Magazine subscriptions are another common subscription trap.
The large print on subscription traps will say things like: “Get a Month’s Free Supply of XYZ”, or “Try XYZ Free for One Month”. They might also say something like “Get $99 Worth of XYZ for Only $9.99”.
The small print, though, says something different. If you don’t cancel your subscription, you will get charged a lot more every month after the trial period has ended.
You will usually have to provide your credit card details to pay for the trial offer. Or, they will say they need your card details to prove your age or your eligibility for the offer.
Often, the amounts of the subscription are quite small. Small enough so that many people don’t notice the amount coming out of their account.
The subscriptions can be every hard to cancel. The business involved in these tricks will be very slow to respond to complaints, or they won’t respond at all. The only way to stop the payments will be by contacting your bank or credit card provider.
How to Avoid Getting Caught by a Trial Offer Subscription Trap
Not all free trial offers are scams. Some large companies, like Amazon Prime, Spotify, and Pandora, often offer free trials.
This makes free trials very confusing for consumers. It makes it more difficult to spot the traps and scams. Very often, subscription traps are not scams, but they are not very honest either. They don’t make it clear that the trial will lead to a subscription if you don’t cancel on time.
Here’s some on how to avoid subscription traps:
Read the Terms and Conditions
We’ve all done it. There’s a long list of terms and conditions written in that confusing legal language. So, you click “Agree” without reading any further. That’s what dishonest businesses are hoping you will do.
Whenever you are signing for a trial offer or a free offer, always read the terms and conditions. Especially if it’s a business that you are not familiar with.
Watch Out for Pre-Checked Boxes
Be careful if there are any boxes that have been pre-checked when you shop for anything online. This may be a way to get your agreement to an ongoing subscription. At best, it’s likely to be a way to get you to agree to receiving lots of annoying ads.
Research the Company
Check out the company before you subscribe to anything. That applies to trial offers and regular subscriptions.
Look at review sites and search for the name of the company on Google. Look at the company’s website too. Is there a verified trading address for the business? Are there telephone numbers and email addresses that you can contact?
Read our post on how to spot a fake website for more information on this.
Cancel Within the Trial Time Limit
Sometimes, people fall into this trap because they don’t cancel the trial on time. Read the terms of the deal, make a note of the date you need to cancel. Make sure you cancel the subscription on time to avoid getting caught out.
Check Your Bank Statements
Check your bank and credit card statements monthly. Small subscriptions can often go unnoticed. If you see a subscription that you don’t want, try cancelling it with the company. If that fails, contact your bank.
Think Before You Sign Up to Any Agreement
A lot of subscription traps will try very hard to convince you that you have a limited amount of time to sign up. Don’t let them rush into a decision. Take time to consider any agreement before you sign it. Ask yourself a few questions. Do you really need the product? Can you get out of this agreement whenever you want to? Could it be a scam?
Thanks for reading our post on subscription trap scams. If you have been tricked into a subscription, please let us know in the comments. Please also share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Then, more people can avoid getting tricked by trial offer scams.
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