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Terms of Use. Trial Offers. Risk Free.

There are hundreds of commercials on TV and hundreds more all over the internet offering “trial offers” for products that range from skin care to vitamins and supplements. The health and beauty industry is known for these types of trial offers because they want you to feel comfortable trying out their products, so they offer arguably, “risk-free” trials so you can determine if the product is right for you.
But wait…there is always a catch. And, it’s up to you, the consumer, to be aware of the Terms of Use attached to these deals.
Let me start by stating that adults should know that nothing in life is free. If you understand this simple truth, you will be less likely to be duped by slick marketing campaigns and less likely to lose your hard-earned money.

Keranique. Read the Reviews.

One such product that offers such a “risk-free trial” is Keranique, a woman’s hair growth product. And evidently, many consumers seem to be a bit confused about their risk-free offer. The following online review from a Keranique customer really caught my attention. Check it out:

“My biggest issue with Keranique is not the product..its the people who complain about it.  Do you not know how to read? The terms and conditions for the *** trial are all over the place but yet “no one is informed”. Also, for the idiots that think it’s free. What part of “risk free” and “trial” is hard to understand? Risk free does not = Free!!! I can’t believe people are so dumb that they actually think they are getting hundreds of dollars of products (prices of which are clearly listed on the *** web site) for free. I’m not sure where you are from but you don’t get to go to a store, put on a shirt, wear it for 30 days, and then bring it back for free.. so I think letting you try a product before paying for it is more than generous of them.  To end my rant I’d like to say, wake up, pull your heads out of your ***, read what your putting your credit card information into, and don’t expect things in life to be free. Cause you’re going to be very disappointed.” (Yelp, Review #563949)

Again, you must read these agreements very carefully before placing your order. The fine print usually explains that you must cancel your order if you are not satisfied with the risk-free trial or you will continue to receive the product and your credit card will continue to be charged. These are sometimes called, “Continuity Agreements,” because they last forever until you cancel.

FTC Rulings. Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission lists some helpful common sense tips on their website http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0101-free-trial-offers dealing with Free Trial Offers.
These include:

  • Research the company online.
  • Find the terms and conditions for the offer.
  • Look for who’s behind the offer.
  • Watch out for pre-checked boxes.
  • Mark your calendar.
  • Look for info on how you can cancel future shipments or services.
  • Read your credit and debit card statements.

Remember, in the end it is your responsibility to make sure you completely understand these offers before signing up.  As an adult, you are accountable for your choices. An informed and educated consumer is much more likely to be a happy customer.
How do you feel about “risk-free” trials? Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward. Find me on my Facebook Law Fan Page, Twitter Law Page, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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