It's Not Free If They Ask For Your Credit Card
We've all see the infomercial that offers a 30 day free trial, or the website offering membership at no cost, only to be asked for our credit card number when we place the order. There are always assurances that we won't be charged until the trial period is over, and that we can cancel at any time.
As we've heard a million times, however, the devil's in the details, or more accurately the fine print. That little checkbox that says something like Agree to Terms and Conditions seems like such a small obstacle to getting our free gift in the mail with 2 day shipping. The well rehearsed (actually read) instructions and disclosures that we must listen to before verbally agreeing to our trial membership seems so unimportant. Even the Service Representative wants to get through it as quickly as possible. Those terms, conditions, disclosures, agreements (or any other name that might be applied to them) can often come back to bite us where it hurts - in the wallet.
Forget to cancel in time - you'll get charged! Don't cancel in the right way - you'll get charged! Don't return that trial product in the right box - you'll get charged! In other words, when you give them your credit card number expect to get charged. That is unless you actually read the fine print, carefully pay attention to the cancel by date, and follow all other instructions with exact obedience - a feat that is very inprobable!
Then you think to yourself - I'll just refuse to pay. I'll remind them that they told me I could cancel at any time, or that I wouldn't be charged until the trial was over. The company's response - look at the fine print. And guess what - the company is right. You did agree to the legal mumbo jumbo that they threw at you. And you probably didn't even read it.
What do all companies have in common? They want to make a profit. That's why they require your credit card up front. Marketers don't trust that if you really like the product or service you'll come back and pay. They do however trust that even if you don't like the product or service you might forget to cancel, and you'll end up paying anyway.
What's the best way to avoid getting charged? Don't give your credit card unless you are buying something. That's what credit cards are for. Buying stuff. Not trying stuff for free.