I subscribe to a lot of software and other online services, but something that has always annoyed me more than anything else (and I’d hazard a guess most consumers too) is when you apply for a Free 30-Day Trial (or less) to a service, to only then have your credit card billed automatically if you forget to cancel your subscription before your trial period expires.
Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with providing my credit card details as that can arguably be for valid reasons like verifying your identity and to prevent people abusing free trial periods by using different names and email addresses. It’s just automatic billing and renewals that tend to infuriate me; so much so in fact that in the past, I’ve cancelled subscriptions and moved to alternate providers when I’ve been caught out being billed for a product or services I wasn’t warned were about to be renewed, despite enjoying and being happy with the service I cancelled.
Why do so many companies do this?
In my opinion, the only logical reason I can think of is that they’re hoping you’ll forget to cancel so they can extract a month (or more) worth of payments out of you for something you didn’t want a paid subscription to in the first place. And that’s often unbeknownst to you until you happen to notice a charge on your credit card statement, which, depending on how closely you check, can sometimes take a month or two, or even more.
Worse, cancelling a Trial subscription can often involve jumping through a myriad of hoops and sending emails, and the instructions on how to cancel are frequently well hidden. Money grabbing practice at its finest in my view that could arguably be seen as coming close to the definition of entrapment.
To be fair, some companies employ a more equitable practice and send you an email or SMS reminder that your free trial will expire in X number of days, but in my experience, the vast majority don’t bother providing such a courtesy.
Here’s a better way to do things!
I think what would be much fairer is to provide a trial and “not” bill you unless you manually click a subscribe button before or after your trial ends.
Obtain our information; including our mobile, email address, and credit card details by all means, but send a reminder email or SMS that access will be revoked unless you agree to pay the subscription fee – and most importantly – provide an option to enable auto-renewal or not during the subscription payment process. This would save many ill-feelings about service providers from dissatisfied customers and stop the need for negative reviews and comments being posted to Social Media and other places.