Today I woke up with $70 less in my bank account. I got to say, that hurt a bit. I, like millions of Americans, fell victim to one of the tech industry's biggest tricks; the free trial subscription.
A few weeks ago, I signed up for a free trial of a guided meditation app. For 14 days, I was able to try their entire library of meditations for free. All I needed to do was to cancel before those 14 days were up to avoid being charged. But before the two weeks were even up, they charged me anyway!
I had even set up reminders on my calendar to cancel the trial. Now I will either have to call and complain to get my money back or deal with the missing 70 bucks.Sign to help end free trial automatic subscriptions.
Companies from Amazon to Skype all offer free trials to get their customers hooked. They know full well some people will forget to cancel and that money goes straight to their pocket. This is especially exploitative to the poor or disadvantaged who may not have the time or mental energy to keep track of these subscriptions because they are busy with other, more pressing demands. Luckily, Mastercard is taking steps to stop this practice.
They have decided to block free trials from charging automatically. The company has issued a new policy that will require providers to email customers and ask for their explicit consent before they can complete the transaction. The email would also include instructions on how to cancel the subscription.
This is a great idea. It protects the consumer and holds companies accountable, ensuring that they don't make an extra buck off of us using trickery.
Now it is up to Visa and American Express to follow suit and make sure they implement a similar policy.
All credit card companies need to do this now. As I learned, some companies don't even wait the amount of time they say they will. That's why this policy is so important. Because companies really shouldn't be allowed to charge us without our explicit consent. Sign the petition and ask Visa and American Express to block automatic subscriptions from free trials.