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Golf ball buyers landed in a “free trial” trap

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If a company offers you a free trial, what have you got to lose? Maybe plenty. Hidden strings attached to a deal can tangle you up in hard-to-escape buying plans that charge you for products or services you don’t want.

The FTC says that’s what happened to many people who signed up for “free” online trial offers of golf and cooking products and services. According to an FTC lawsuit against the sellers, which went by names like Golf Online Academy and Kitchen Advance, the so-called free trials really were “negative option” offers. That means you’d have to cancel before the trial period ended — or be automatically enrolled to get regular shipments of the stuff and pay regular charges.

The problem? The FTC says finding the terms of the websites’ offers — like how long the trial period lasted and how to cancel — was as tricky as finding a golf ball in waist-high weeds. In many cases, the websites even described the offers as a “Free Gift!” rather than a trial offer. And, the FTC says, people also got a runaround when they tried to return the products, cancel the shipments or services, and get refunds.

How can you avoid “free” trial traps?

  • Research the company online. See what other people are saying. Search the name of the company and “complaint” or “review.”
  • Find the terms and conditions for the offer, including how to cancel. If you can’t find the terms, or can’t understand them, don’t sign up.
  • Read your credit and debit card statements. Make sure you’re not being charged for something you didn’t order. If you are, dispute the charges with your credit card company.

Find more tips in our guidance on “Free” Trial Offers. And, if you’ve been wrongly charged for a free trial, report it to the FTC.


Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


They should ban companies from getting your credit card info for these "free trials." If it says "free" it should really be free. That way, it will put a stop to all the scamming.

These people keep calling me from various states. If I don't asnswer they leave this message. “Hi this is Kimberly I'm calling to California this is your last chance tomorrow and the federal student loan forgiveness program to begin the enrollment please call toll-free at 866-410-2145 once again that toll-free number is 866-410-2145 thank you…”

It hard to get free

Yes i get free offers , and like most hidden in fine print we will charge you $27 each month ever month for a supscription i did not know i was going to get many are MISLEADING Hype<<< This makes for one to trust no one on internet business and ect like buy now within next 24 hr or lose out<<< i hate this kind of BS because it for the mostpart is a lie and all they care about is hi jacking your money like credit card scams you are approved for a credit card all you have to do is fill out form so you fill out form only to get a NO ON CREDIT CARD THIS ONE MAKE ONE VARY MAD AND MAKES FOR ME TO TRUST NO ONE THAN THEY GET MAD AT ME WHEN I CALL THEM OUT ON THIS,,,1,,, EVEN FREE CREDIT REPORTS ONLY FIND OUT AT END OF ME GIVING OUT ALL MY PERSONAL INTO THEY SAY ITS FREE FOR 30 DAYS THEN THEY WE WILL CHARGE YOU 27 A MONTH<<< REMEMBER THIS IS IN FINE PRINT AFTER READING IT FOR LONG TIME ANYWAYS I AM DONE WITH THESE SCAMMERS AND THATS THE TRUTH WITHALLKINDNESS

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