Avoid Getting Billed for Your “Free Trial”

I love it when I can sign up for some web service without entering my credit card for the trial period.

I get excited when I see “14 Day Trial—No Credit Card Required.” I’m usually burned out on a new product before the trial runs out, so those offers are a win for me.

But sometimes I’ll come across something I really want to try and a credit card IS required. I get it. The company doesn’t want to waste its time on people who aren’t serious. It wants us to try the product, like it, and shift right into paying for it.

I end up signing up for lots of products. I can’t resist. Signing up for things feels like work even when I know it’s just another way to avoid getting things done.

Usually, when I sign up and give a company my credit card, I forget and it bills me. Sometimes it’s painful. I’ve been billed for the year instead of the month on some occasions. Ouch.

Until recently, my system has been to try to remember to cancel using my brain. Big mistake. My failsafe system is to check my credit card bills. Of course, by then it’s too late, but I can still prevent further damage.

Now, however, I’m getting smarter. Who says they can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

How to Remember to Cancel Your Free Trial

Now, I’m adding a dated task to my to-do list. Personally, I use Wunderlist, but you probably use something fancier (on a free trial?). It’s working for me. I “remembered” to cancel half a dozen trials this week. (Buh-bye to all the Gmail-integrated CRMs. It was fun while it lasted!)

I suppose you could also just add a notation to your calendar. The key is to use the software to notify you in time to give you the opportunity to cancel before the trial expires. Keep in mind that some of these vendors require you to e-mail them instead of simply clicking a “cancel” button. Allow time for that step if required.

Some lawyers I know got burned a few times by the automatic billing and now refuse to try new products. That’s a mistake. The new products are often where the innovation is happening. It’s the new products that sometimes offer a leap in productivity. It’s worth giving these offers a try to expand your horizons and see what’s possible. Plus, a good shiny object is a great way to put off important work.

My “cancel accounts” list is now central to my being. Now I can sign up for free trials without fear of unexpected billing. Suddenly, my life is perfect.

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