Consumer Watch: Free doesn't always mean no cost


by Andy Treinen

Posted on July 17, 2013 at 6:47 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 17 at 6:47 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Free trial offers are a great way to test out a product without fully committing, but if you've ever signed up for a freebie offer, you may have realized that "free" sometimes comes with strings.

If it's free why not try it out? Well, unless you are a very organized person you may want to steer clear. Whether it's a new hair product or an online streaming video service, lots of businesses use free trial offers to try to hook you on their brand and get your money.

While trial offers can be a convenient way to see if you like a product some businesses make it tough to cancel your subscription.

The Federal Trade Commission has these tips to help you avoid paying more than you bargained for:
research the company online - check out customer reviews
locate terms and conditions - if you can't find them, don't sign up.
look for who's behind the offer- is the pop-up from a different company?
watch out for pre-checked boxes - the default might have you paying up even after your trial expires.
mark your calendar with the time limit on the offer

The FTC also recommends finding information about canceling future shipments and make sure you don't have to pay extra to cancel.

One final tip, watch your credit and debit card statements. They’re the best way to make sure you're not being charged without knowing it - you’d be surprised at how many people are.

If you have a consumer issue you’d like us to look into send an e-mail to