Don’t Forget To Cancel ‘Free 30-Day Trials’: Corporations Rake In Billions Due To Forgetting

July 29, 2013  |  

Don’t be too quick to accept “free 30-day trial” offers, especially if your credit card information is required! Most Americans forget to cancel the subscription after the 30 days are up. Next thing you know, you’re unwittingly paying for an unwanted product. These companies love how oblivious we are because they rake in $14.3 billion due to our forgetfulness, reports USA Today.

Known as “gray charges,” one in three Americans are lured by these “free” deals and turned into paying subscribers, a recent study commissioned by BillGuard shows. These card holders are losing an average of $215 per year.

“These gray charges are not illegal; they’re just kind of unethical and a little but questionable,” Ron Shevlin, the survey conductor adds, “[a]nd many times it’s the consumer’s behavior that triggers these gray charges.”

By consumer’s behavior, Shevlin is referring to the fact that many Americans are simply forgetting to unsubscribe from the service, “which merchants are counting on,” says Mary Anne Keegan, the chief marketing officer for BillGuard.

Gray charges are becoming a bigger problem because consumers are increasingly making online purchases, which, of course, require credit card information. This makes it much easier for companies to keep your information on file and charge you without your consent.

Services that we love to use such as Amazon and LinkedIn are some of the main culprits behind the accumulating unwanted charges customers face. “[They] offer consumers free trials of upgraded services for a limited time, then start charging them,” adds USA Today.

Take a look at one scare an Ohio University senior endured:

Three weeks ago, Mallorie Sullivan, 21, saw her bank account had been overdrawn by about $70 and couldn’t figure out why. Until she remembered about a free Amazon Prime trial for students she’d signed up for six months earlier.

Luckily for Sullivan, and many other victims of gray charges, BillGuard is in talks with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about the deceptive marketing ploys of these companies. They are campaigning to encourage “consumer-friendly innovation” in corporate America, USA Today concludes.

BillGuard is a service that allows people to track companies that perpetuate gray charges and educates its users how to dispute them.

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