What the Tech? The Problem with Free Trials
It’s the latest way app makers are trying to make money. Free trials!
7 or 3 days free so you can see if you like them or not. Trouble is, it’s often a trick.
Free trials convert to paid subscriptions when they run out. Charged to the credit card you have stored with Apple or Google. Most people who get stuck with new subscriptions never realize what’s happening until it’s too late.
For example, many animal lovers downloaded this app, “My Talking Pet 2” last Christmas and took advantage of a 7-day trial. I did.
Like many other people, I used the app for a couple of days making cute videos of my dog. Then I forgot about it. 7 days later my credit card was charged $40!
The app has earned over $40,000 in revenue since it was released in November 2018 through September of this year. I can only assume some of that was from people like me who were charged after the free trial ended.
“My Talking Pet 2” makes the information clear in its terms and Apple even sent a receipt by email, instructing me that I would be charged when the trial was over. I forgot and it cost me.
It happens frequently. According to a Bankrate shopping survey, 59% of adults who signed up for a free trial of apps were later charged without actually subscribing, and the Better Business Bureau says customers lost an average of $186.
App companies don’t send reminders of a trial ending. You won’t notice until you get your credit card statement.
Another app Panna, automatically charges your account $71.99 if you don’t cancel within a week. Again, the app is clear about that when you take advantage of the free trial.
The viral Gradient app slips something in the agreement for a 3-day free trial: you have to cancel within 24 hours of the subscription ending or be charged for a year subscription. So it’s really only a 2-day free trial. Someone who doesn’t read that carefully will be charged.
Here’s how to enjoy a trial subscription without getting stuck with a bill: cancel the subscription immediately. You do that by going to your iPhone settings, tap on your name at the top, then subscriptions, then cancel.
On an Android device, Go to the Google Play Store app, tap Menu and then subscriptions. Here’s the secret the app makers don’t want you to know: even if you cancel the free trial immediately you’ll still have access to it until the trial ends.
You can always subscribe later if you like it.
Otherwise, you’re stuck paying for an app you’ve already forgotten about.