We’ve all had it happen. We sign up for a free trial, they take our credit card information, and then 3 months later we login to our bank and realize we’re paying for a service we used for 20 minutes. It’s not illegal for the company to do this. After-all, you signed up for this trial, and you agreed to the fine print. After the trial, you’d be billed. Cancel anytime, they say! Well, if you’re not super organized and set phone reminders about cancellations (which I now try to do), then you might check your bank account and find these charges.
And hey, this business practice is completely legal (at least in Canada and the USA) so why wouldn’t they continue to do so? It’s free money from people who aren’t constantly checking their trial subscriptions. Even major retailers like Amazon and Netflix use this model. The presumption is most people will want to keep using their service, and those who don’t want to can merely cancel it. Great!
The problem is that many of these companies (I’m looking at you Wallstreet Journal), make it nearly impossible to cancel their “free trial”. In the age of anxiety, and when many people don’t make phone calls—some of these companies take things a step further and make people call them to cancel the free trial subscription… which is completely insane considering you can sign up without ever talking to a human. This banks on the discomfort of picking up the phone to call, and it banks on the lack of time that a lot of people have – waiting in a que to cancel is difficult when you’re busy.
Recently I tried reaching out to CreditVerify to cancel my free trial—they too have a “call us” policy, and I emailed their support roughly 10+ times. No answer. At all. When I finally went to call, they were closed. Of course I can call back at another time, but my god… I am jumping through hoops to cancel something I never even wanted to continue to begin with.
A little while later…
On the phone with them, their hold music was some kind of abrasive crackling techno music… and I’m wondering if their goal was just to piss me off into hanging up?
I did manage to cancel, despite explaining I had contacted support. I asked for a refund numerous times, explained my anxiety and disability, and got the following response, “you can do whatever you want, we can’t give you a refund”.
While I do understand that it’s not technically illegal to charge me, the barriers of not being able to cancel this account I never wanted are crazy. This is ripping off Canadians (and I’m sure Americans), who merely wanted to try a service. This $1 7 day free trial has cost me a lot of money and headache… and what I wonder is… how much have they made off people who haven’t cancelled yet?
This feels violating, upsetting, and honestly… I just want to cry. When will the government step in and say enough is enough of these practices?