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Don’t let “FREE” cost you

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When a company says you can try its product for free, you might think, why not?

Here’s why not: You could end up paying a lot of money for that free trial. Scammers often use free trial offers with undisclosed or buried terms to enroll people in costly membership programs.

That’s what happened in the case of Triangle Media Corporation, the FTC alleges. Triangle Media advertised “risk free” trials on different websites for skincare products, dietary supplements, and e-cigarettes for just the cost of shipping and handling.

But people who accepted the “risk free” trial paid a lot more than shipping and handling — as much as $98.71 for the first shipment, and for each monthly shipment that followed. And anyone who clicked the “COMPLETE CHECKOUT” button that appeared after placing their order was charged for an additional product and monthly membership without their knowledge.

Don’t let this happen to you. Here are a few tips to avoid free trial scams:

  • Do your research. See what other people are saying about the company. Search the name of the company with words like “complaint” or “scam.”
  • Look at the terms and conditions. If you can’t find them, or can’t understand them, don’t sign up.
  • Find out how to cancel. Look for information on what to do if you don’t want the product anymore. Do you still have to pay? Do you have a limited time to cancel?
  • Mark your calendar. Your free trial offer probably has a time limit. Once it passes without you cancelling, you may owe money.
  • Read your credit and debit account statements. You’ll know right away if you’re being charged for something you didn’t order.

Want to know more? Check out our guidance on “Free” Trial Offers. And if you’ve been wrongly charged for a free trial offer, report it to the FTC.


I bought one diet products on line for free with just a shipping and handling cost $3.99. I ended up pay $279. The reason was the products being used so if you wanted to return the products should be unused. I even contacted my CIBC credit company but they didn't try to help me. I cancelled my CIBI credit after paying the scammer. Please "free products online is not free at all" but very expensive. Thx for reading!

Always use a credit card. Notify them immediately

I recently opted to try a Client Management System for one month and of course I forgot to cancel when the month was up. It cost me $395 for signing up for one year which I didn't want to do. I contacted the company and I'm not getting my money back because it was clearly stated that I had to cancel my credit card or I would pay that membership for one year.

Is there really nothing I can do to get them to reimburse me??

Thanks for your help. Much appreciated :)

I tried one of those free offers, paid the shipping fee and 13 days later, before I even received the product, I was charged $79. for a 30 month supply and a subscription to receive every month at that amount. Needless to say I was furious! Thankfully I contacted my bank and reported a fraudulent charge, they credited my account and went after them. They eventually returned my money and the bank was able to get theirs back from my account. I won't make that mistake again.

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