Saving Money, Tips

Dealing With Trial Periods

Let’s face it, we live busy lives.  I’m pretty sure that most companies are aware of this.  I’m also pretty sure that that’s why many companies entice customers with trial periods.  Think about it.  How many times have you signed up for a service because it was free for 3 months, with the real intention of canceling said service at the end of the trial period, only to forget to call and actually cancel the service? Having figured out that many customers will forget to call and cancel, companies can afford these trial periods, banking on the busyness of the average consumer.

Personally, I’m very busy.  So, when I’m offered a trial period, especially one that requires a phone call in order to cancel a service, I’m vary wary.  In most cases, I simply decline the service.  This is by far the easiest way to deal with most of these types of offers.

Once in a while, however, I’ll actually get an offer to try a service that I’m actually wanting to check out.  For instance, I recently switched satellite television providers, and enjoyed three months of free premium movie channels.  Just last night, I called my provider, just as the free trial period ran out, and canceled the channels.  It was fun to have the channels, but I really do not need them.

If, like me, you struggle to stay organized, but you still want to take advantage of these trial periods, consider setting up a reminder system.  Personally, I use the iCal program on my computer, and make a simple note, reminding myself of when to call and cancel a particular service.  I also know folks who use websites like FutureMe, a website that will allow you to schedule a reminder email, and send it to yourself at a specific time in the future.  Pretty rad.

Remember, before signing up for any free trial period, be sure that you know exactly how to cancel the service.  This is especially true for services offered by credit card companies and credit reporting services.  Taking the time once a month to take care of these pesky little phone calls can, in the long-term, save you a lot of money.

5 thoughts on “Dealing With Trial Periods

  1. I have been a reader for past few months but never posted before. I just wanted to say great work and I am glad you still writing useful information.

    I too feel the same about those so called free trial deals, sometimes it is just not worth it, unless you would have paid for it regardless of deal.

  2. Haha you are actually reminding me to do just that this week by wirting this post! Thanks!

  3. You are so right on with this article.

    I’ve been snagged a few times when it comes to free trials.

    In addition to them hoping you forget to cancel your trial offer, another marketing concept is in play here – the “ownership” principle.

    Its harder for us to give up something we already own. That’s one of the reason home sellers often price their houses more than they’re worth when they sell them or the reason people holding garage sales tend to overprice their junk.

    When we own something we equate a higher value to it. Trials are just a way of getting us to “claim” ownership to something.

    It makes it much harder to give it up. When I bought my first car the dealer allowed me to take it home overnight for an “extended test drive”. And of course once I got a sense of “owning” the car it made it much harder to give back. I ended up buying the car.

    Sales people employ the same technique when they insist that you try on the clothes you’ve been eyeing.

    Just another reason to say NO to free trials.

  4. Free trials aren’t bad, it’s all about reading the fine print before getting the trial to find out when your free trial becomes a monthly fee. I’ve done this plenty of times on financial websites to check out reports and I have never had any problems cancelling.

    Also, it pays to be early when cancelling, when it says free for 30 days put that date minus 10 days into iCal or whatever you use, since your actual end date may fall on a weekend and you may not be able to reach customer service.

    To sum up: read the fine print before doing anything. If only more ARM holders (including you 80/X mortgagers) read the fine print maybe we wouldn’t be in as bad an economic crisis that we are in now.

  5. Ordinarily, I like to just not get involved with trial offers, too. I figure it’s almost never worth it, and I am almost guaranteed to forget to turn it off. On the times I do want to, though, I find that using Google Calendar to send a reminder email is the best bet. I use google calendar for so many things–menu planning (described on my blog how to do this), reminders for doctors appointments, birthdays, and yes, trial offer expirations. It’s really useful once you get the hang of it.

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