Beware The “Free Trial.” I’ve told my wife that more than a hundred times. But she’s a sucker for “free trial” offers over the Internet. She’s one of those folks that actually likes getting spam. Talk about opposites attracting!
So it was no suprise to me when she accepted some kind of Google ad-words orientated “free trial” for some such thing or another, only to find out that they were going to charge her something like $50 a month for one of those gawdy, tacky pre-manufactured web sites to sell something. Well, after a few hours of phone calls, returning some CD rom that was more sales pitch than it was business advice, and talking with the bank about the charges from a company that we could no longer locate, she finally got her money back.
Think she learned her lesson? No. But have any of you done any better?
A month later, she did it again! This time it was some teeth whitening stuff. She paid something like $1.95 for a “free trial” product, only to find out her account was going to get zapped about $85.00 a month for some supplemental materials. Unless, of course, she said “no” to the item that was sent to her. Meaning she had to send it back (at her expense) and then jump through hoops to get the monthly charges stopped.
I don’t mind my wife’s shopaholic Internet activities. If there ever was a bargain hunter, she’s it. If there ever was a Miss Bargain Hunter pageant, she’d win it, hand’s down.
But what is it about the word “Free” on the Internet that drives people into maniacil frenzies that look more like a drug-induced reaction than clear, rational thought? I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the word “free” must be the most overused word on the Internet. No, probably the most overused word in this lifetime.
There are thousands of “free trial” scams that permeate the Internet.
A big problem why these bogus free trial offers proliferate in the United States is because the governing body of these rascals, the Federal Trade Commission, either doesn’t want to do anything about them or can’t keep up with them. Most likely it is the later.
“The problem is, the FTC has their hands full. They have far more pressing problems than the $69.97 Google Fortune tricked out of you. As long as these guys keep moving, the FTC is unlikely to expend more than some token resources to catch a small handful of them.
“This explains why you see so many of these “Free Trial Offers” for Google Biz Kits and Acai and Reveritrol and Government Grants and everything else. Pull $75 out of 20,000 wallets and you’ve just made a cool $1.5 MILLION dollars. Advertise everywhere, get 1000 signups a day for 40 days, pay half to affiliates, promise customers refunds for just long enough to keep the feds off your back, then close down, pack up shop in Nevada, start all over again in Utah or California or Nevis or Trinadad, rinse, repeat.” Free Trial Scams And The FTC
I’m not going to say that what my wife bought into were scames (although most likely, they are). But I will tell you, as I’ve tried to explain many times to her: Read The Fine Print! Oh yes, I did send her a link to the above article. She wasn’t amused.
Nothing is really “free” on the Internet. You’ll pay a price for it, one way or another. And in the process, you’ll become one of the thousands upon thousands of Internet victims that may not have only lost some money, but your identity as well.
A word to the wise. And I hope my wife is reading this, too!