All you did was sign up for the free trial and now, 32 days later you have a charge on your Visa card for 29.99 that you didn't want. If only you could turn back time like Marty Mcfly and do it all differently.

Free Trials are actually pretty cool ideas, I get a chance to try something out for a bit and if I don't like it, I don't pay for it... yet. Pre-planning is a prerequisite to free trials, without it you will pay the price (pun intended) unless you know how to get around the fees.

☉ Free Trial/ Costly Shipping:  Frankly I stay away from these as they aren't free when I have to pay to get it mailed out and usually at a cost that is 2-3 times the usual cost of the 1st class mail option they sent it to you. There is are a few items that are worth the shipping cost (see free sterling silver site), but I wouldn't personally think of it as free, I would think of them as costing 6.99, for shipping.

Clock is Ticking: The free trial doesn't start from the time you finally get around to downloading the software or watching the HBO channel, it starts the minute you click on the button to order or say, "Yes, I would like to try that for free."

Read the Tiny Print: The itsy, bitsy, teeny, tiny print will definitely tell all the conditions of the trial. Look for length of trial, cost after trial and anything you may be signed up for with a 3rd party (name/address selling) or if you have to send anything back at your own cost. Until you know the rules, don't jump into the pool.

☉ Befriend the Calendar: When you do find out the length of the trial, write it on a calendar or send yourself an email or set an alarm on your phone. I would also suggest that you make it a day or two ahead of the end of trial so that you can hit the snooze for another day if you absolutely have to.

☉ Know Canceling Techniques: Have yourself all ready with whom to call, where to write or what links to click to cancel. If one way doesn't work, you will have alternatives to try to cancel. Also another good reason to cancel ahead of time because sometimes they will take 24- 48hours to "complete the cancellation" and you don't want to be outside your trial period when that happens (not that it would be your fault, but err on the side of caution).

Big Brother Your Statement: On the day of the end of the trial to 30 days beyond, keep an eye on your card statement to make sure nothing was added "accidentally". Some people may have print outs of the page that showed the order and fine print for proof that the company didn't follow through on their word. But I haven't come across that yet, Simply keeping an eye on my statement details for a period of time is usually enough.

The most common trial options are:
 Health or Beauty aides - Shipping is usually required or return of the bottle at your cost may be necessary
Credit reports - typically require you to sign up for a 2-4 week trial of a report watch system. Your best place for these is, which is the official site with no strings attached.
Tea/Coffee - I have the Gevelia coffe maker ads on my site as I have used them without troubles and they do have a monthly club you participate in unless you cancel within the required time.
Computer or Computer Software - The computer offers usually require you to sign up and sometimes order other products or get others to sign up with you. I'm not a fan of those.
With free computer software, has quite a few free trials, but you want to check that you get the full software and not a chopped down version and how long the trial is of course.
Magazine subscriptions - I come across these often and usually they will stop after a certain time if you send the bill back with cancel. But if you have given your credit card to get the free issues, be diligent about checking the statement as I have seen charges show up months later.

Free trials can be very useful as long as you are proactive with regard to the fine print before you sign off on the trial.


  1. Bob // Monday, November 22, 2010 1:46:00 PM  

    My kids get caught up in these "free trial" offers occasionally. I have suggested that they submit a cancellation right after they sign up so they don't forget or lose the information needed to keep charges from ending up on the credit card.

  2. Jill // Monday, November 22, 2010 4:21:00 PM  

    I got caught with these a few times and gave up. I'm just not organized enough to get them canceled on time and nothing I got was really essential anyway. Embarrassingly I even got caught by the columbia record company in my teens. You only have to get stuck with one copy of "Pump Up the Jam" before you figure out how to cancel that crap.

  3. Dawn // Monday, November 22, 2010 6:06:00 PM  

    I've gotten caught in the music club one as well and buying second rate music just to get rid of the membership.

  4. Hammy // Tuesday, November 23, 2010 6:13:00 AM  

    Certainly a sound piece of advice Dawn. Another point being that if the product really is worth the money and you end up buying it everybody wins.