Help Desk FAQ

Retail

 

Are trial offers legitimate?

Some trial, or “no obligation,” offers are legitimate, but many are not. Some offers actually are made by scammers who use the order-taking process as an opportunity to obtain your personal information. They then use the information, such as a credit card number, to commit identity theft or other crimes.  This scam can be perpetrated over the phone (telemarketing), by email, or even in person.

In other cases, the offer may be legitimate, but the marketer doesn’t tell you clearly that you that you may be billed the full price of the product or service or enrolled in a monthly subscription program if you don’t cancel by a certain date. When you miss that deadline, your credit card is charged or your bank account debited. By the time you do cancel, you have been charged one or more times.

As part of a trial offer, a company must tell you if any conditions are attached to the deal. If you want to take advantage of a trial offer, take these precautions:

  • Pay close attention to the details of the offer. Take notes, if necessary.
  • Know who you’re dealing with. If possible, do an online search for the company or product name to see what others are saying about it. Check with the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org) or your state’s consumer protection agencies to see what they know about the company or offer.
  • Mark your calendar with the date the cancellation period ends—be sure to cancel in writing well before that date. Keep a copy of the letter.
  • Watch your bank or credit card statements for subsequent charges. Contact the company to have them reversed. If they will not comply, dispute the charges with your card issuer or financial institution.

Learn more about trial offers, how to protect yourself, and how to file a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and in Consumer Action’s publication Don’t Fall for the Wrong Call.

 
 
 
 

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