Everyone loves "free," and that's why so many people sign up for free trials of streaming sites, magazines, and other services.
But, Erica Robinson and Alexandria Hamilton know all too well the risks of free trial offers.
"If you don't read the fine print, you can get charged," Robinson said.
"I got hit the first of the month, charging me $19.95," Hamilton said.
She was able to cancel it and now laughs it off.
Dating site starts charging a monthly fee
But for Tasha Rudolph, an experience with a dating site's free trial was no laughing matter. She signed up and quickly learned you can't see anyone's picture with the free version.
"Who wants to talk to strangers? That's the whole point of seeing pictures," she said. "Everybody has types and different things."
Frustrated with the lack of photos, she gave up and tried to back out. But, she says before she knew it, she was charged $80 to start a monthly membership.
"I clicked on it so I could get information," she said, "but that was a payment. That was it!"
From dating sites, to health and beauty products, to magazines, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says many companies bank on you to forget what you signed up for and forget to mark down on a calendar the date when you need to cancel to avoid fees.
Josh Planos of the BBB gets complaints about free trial offers every day.
"It's never been easier to inadvertently sign up for something that you don't fully understand," he said. "They are designed to entice you with the possibility of free service, free product, free insert any variable."
How to protect yourself
The BBB says before signing up for a free trial:
- Mark on a calendar when to cancel a free trial subscription.
- Set an alert on your phone.
- Find out how much notice you have to give to avoid being charged.
- Always sign up with a credit card, not your bank account.
Need more help? Apps like TrueBill.com help you manage and track the subscriptions you're paying for.
Tasha Rudolph is now trying to get out of a $300 annual dating site membership she says she never wanted.
"I said oh my gosh what did I sign up for," she said.
So be careful what you sign up for, so you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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