Here’s Why You Should Always Read The Details Of Free Trials

When you sign up for a free trial of a service, but don’t have to hand over your payment information on the spot, do you assume that the free trial will simply go away? That’s what many people who signed up for a trial of Amazon Prime seemed to do, and the Iowa Attorney General has arrived at a settlement with Amazon over auto-enrollment in Prime.

How do we know that the Amazon customers never used the yearlong memberships, for which they paid $79 or $99? People who are eligible for refunds or credits from Amazon are residents of Iowa who signed up for a Prime trial, maybe used it during the trial period, and then never used the subscription again. Perhaps they shipped a package or two and watched an episode of Alpha House, then decided that the service wasn’t worth the expense without realizing that they had to specifically opt out of being billed once the free month was over.

Since Amazon already had their payment information, people giving Prime service a try didn’t need to enter their credit card information. Amazon was promoting the service at the time by offering free 2-day shipping to customers making any purchases on the site.

As part of the agreement, Amazon denies that they did anything wrong in this situation, and the company will make $122,000 available for people in Iowa who signed up for a free trial of Prime, then didn’t use it during the paid period. Amazon and the state estimate that this affects about 1,100 customers. “To its credit, Amazon had taken steps to address the underlying problem even before we contacted the company with our concerns,” the Iowa AG explained in a statement.

If you’re one of the people affected by this settlement, Amazon should contact you about your refund if they haven’t already. You shouldn’t have to contact the state or the mega-retailer.

To avoid situations like this one proactively, remember to always read fine print before agreeing to any kind of free trial, even one where you don’t have to take out your payment card first. Scan your credit card and bank statements for gray charges and subscriptions or services that you never signed up for.

Free trials can end up costing you [Consumer Reports]

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