When ‘free’ becomes costly.

It’s very easy to be tempted by many of the ’30-day free’ offers that scream at us from many web pages and apps these days. Games, newspapers, magazines and gym memberships are amongst the fruits that are dangled in front of us daily, and sometimes it’s just too difficult to refuse.

If you do take advantage of these offers then there are certain things that you have to do to make sure that you don’t get stung at the end of the free trial and find that you’re still paying for a service that you’re no longer using 12 months later.

How can you pay for something that’s free I hear you ask. Very easily is the answer. When you sign up for the free offer you will be asked for your personal details and in many cases you will be asked for bank or credit card details as well. You will probably also sign an authority that allows the company offering the free trial to start taking money out of your bank account at the end of the trial if you dan’t cancel the agreement beforehand.

And this is the hard bit. The company is unlikely to call you or text you or email you to remind you to cancel the subscription at the end of the 30 days. So the onus is on you to remember. No problem you say, I’ll just drop them a line in 30 days time and tell them I don’t want to continue.

That’s fine apart from two things. The first is that if you wait thirty days you’re probably too late to stop the first payment since these things are normally put in motion a few days before the end date.

And the second thing is that you’ll probably forget! And only realise that you forgot when you look at your bank account or credit card statement in six months time and see payments that you don’t understand for a service you no longer use.

By all means take advantage of free offers. Just remember to cancel them before ‘free’ becomes ‘costly’.

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