Why the fine print in low-cost or free trial offers can cost you

Don't Waste Your Money

(WXYZ) - You know those long lists of terms and conditions that you always agree to but never read? Well you better start, or you could pay for it, literally!

Alberto Lopez  likes to travel books a lot of trips online. So when he was buying a ticket on Sirit, he jumped  at a three month  trial offer of their 9 dollar club. It's a club that gives you access to low fares, and lower baggage fees. But he says he had to act fast…

"One thing you'll discover quickly is that it expires very fast. If you don't decide on something, it'll reset and you'll have to start over.

He signed up, but didn't take the time to read the fine print.

"So I said yes and obviously there is not enough time to read anything else, so, us, you book it, you fly, everything's happy.

All was good until months later when he noticed a $59 dollar charge on his credit card.

 "They had charged me for a year membership."

That was in the fine print he didn't read… 60 days after the trial membership, he'd be automatically charged an annual fee of 59.95 for membership into the club. It's how low-cost or free trials of many kinds usually work. They get you in, but they don't scream it from the rooftops that you've got to cancel by a certain time in order not to be charged… that's spelled out in the words so many people don't read…

Melanie Duquesnel is the CEO of our local Better Business Bureau. She warns of trial offer red flags…

"Anytime there's pressure, run away.  Anytime they're really trying to make you close the deal today. "

She advises consumers to get all the details.  If there are contracts, get copies or print them of, and be sure to know how to go about cancelling if you don't want the offer anymore. Know what the cancellation deadline is and realize that depending on the offer, canceling isn't always easy.

Lopez learned that the hard way. He was unable to get a refund from Spirit, but eventually he got his credit card company to pay him back.

Spirit tells Action News they send out a reminder 30 days in advance explaining the renewal prior to billing.

The Federal Trade Commission has put together a video warning of the potential pitfalls of free or low-cost trial offers. Click here for that.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments