Inevitably you've come across some place or some site that has some type of paid subscription service. Sites like HBO, or Angie's Place, or the ilk. And inevitably you might have been sweet talked into keeping your account after the free trial has ended. This is the rub.
I signed up for the free trial with the full intention of paying for my yearly membership.
You see, these free trial periods are purely a marketing ploy to get you to start a 30 to 90 day period, where you think you get to use something and not pay for it. But corporations know that it only takes a mere 3 weeks to create a habit for a human. And they're using this human trait against us. What I mean is that corporations know that humans can begin life long habits only after a 3 week (about 21 days) period. Watch a television show for 3 weeks, guess what. Smoke or drink for 24 days? Yep. It then becomes a mental habit. And these greedy corporations use this information against us, not for us.
Now before you go on saying that this gives you the chance to use a service to see if you find them worthy of your business, understand that I agree with you 100%. We all test drive a car before we buy it, and everyone looks at a house before signing on the dotted line. But the trick is, you're not giving up any person information or a credit card number just to sit behind the wheel.
If you wish to partake in the Netflix free trial, you have to give up your personal information, AND your credit card number. Then, after 30 days of free trial, your account will automatically be charged. By the end of your trial, its a good bet you'll already be addicted to watching on demand shows. You're hooked. But if you're not and want to cancel you'll have to manually go in, and magically find the well hidden delete my account link for each account. Then hope it actually works.
The trick that these corporations do, is get your information and money first, then say they'll wait to charge you. You think you're just test driving the service. They have patience and red tape, you have anger and empty hopes. Think about it for a moment, your membership charge will go through in less than 3 seconds. But a refund can take up to 30 days. Both use the same resources, yet a refund takes up to a month to occur.
So whats one to do? It simple really. You have the ability to control your destiny. Don't sign up for any free trials that required a credit card, unless you expressly plan on paying for that service. My example is Amazon Prime. I signed up for the free trial with the full intention of paying for my yearly membership. I get free movies and music, and 2 day shipping. But I knew this before giving them any information. I knew I wanted this service, so giving them my info wasn't an issue.
On the other hand, my wife signed up for Amazon Prime free trial too. Her thought was she'd use the 30 days and then cancel. Next thing she knows, her bank account was short $100. She was livid. I merely shrugged knowing this was how the game was played. Don't cancel in time? Pay the money. Its the nature of this beast.
Free trials are really not any benefit of the common consumer. It is strictly a marketing ploy used by businesses to get consumers to join into a subscription membership through habit. Its very slippery of a slope but normally its purely a candy based trap.
I'm not saying they're all bad. Not at all. Some are very good. I've done quite a few myself. But I keep track of who and when. And when its 28 days, I cancel the membership of the services I no longer find viable. But according to some statistics, I'm the 10%. I still use Amazon. Probably more than I should, but I've been smart enough to disable that 1 click purchase.
In the end, each one of us controls what happens to our lives. By now most of us are wise enough to know that free trials are not truly free trials. But there are still enough people that have auto-payments for many things that aren't looking close enough to each bill for them to see they're still paying for a gym membership that they haven't been to in more than a year. Sad to say, sometimes we are our own worst enemies. For us, we still have HBO and Hulu and Netflix and Amazon and...you get the point. But we know what we have and how much each is.
I've found that its best to not think about free trials. If there's a service you want then just sign up for it flat out. If you get 30 days free, great. But otherwise you shouldn't bite on the shiny hook with the flashing neon sign saying "Bite here for free" above it. Its not the droid you're looking for.