Free Trial Offer Costs Woman $232 in Credit Card Charges

free trial offer



Just because someone says something is free doesn’t mean it truly is free. We hear and see free trial offers all the time for certain products although not all are scams be cautious or it may cost you big bucks.

Most often we get suckered into buying something especially if the price is right and marketers know that adding in the word “free” is a sure-fire way to reel people in.


Believing what you read


Living on a budget is not always easy but it doesn’t mean that you have to cut corners or believe everything you read or hear just to save a few dollars.

The internet is the worst place for people to shop sometimes because it’s easy to get caught up in fake reviews of products or celebrity endorsements like this CBB fan who wrote to me so she could share her story with all of you.

To be honest I have never really given much thought to free trial offers before except for magazines from Rogers but once that free magazine subscription was done we opted not to renew. We didn’t however give out any credit card information to get the magazines nor did we pay for shipping.


When is a Free Trial really Free?


Paying for shipping when something is free should raise a red flag to anyone considering a free trial offer. Not all are scams and many people have successfully received free products this way but my advice is “read the fine print and disclaimers“.

For example Netflix in Canada is very popular and they have a free offer for a one month trial (not an endorsement just for review) BUT if you scroll down before you register you will see “Free Trial Offer Details”. When I clicked on it this is what it says…

Your Netflix membership, including a 1 month free offer, will begin when you click on “Start Membership” during the registration process. Simply cancel anytime during your 1 month free membership, and you will not be charged. To cancel, click on “Your Account” and follow the simple cancellation instructions. No refunds or credits for partial months. If you are enjoying Netflix, do nothing and your membership will automatically continue at the monthly subscription rate. This 1 month free offer is available to new and certain former members of the Netflix service and cannot be combined with any other offer.

So if you don’t cancel DURING the month you won’t be charged however if you don’t then you WILL be charged after the free month and continue to be until you cancel. Clearly when you register you need to give them credit card information.

Although this is a popular legitimate company in Canada this is just another case of reading the details of the offer (the tiny link at the bottom of the page) to find out what will happen if you don’t cancel. There are no refunds either for partial months so don’t bother calling them to ask.

The good thing about Netflix is that free is free meaning you aren’t paying up front to hook anything up or any other so-called “fees” to enjoy the free trial. Not always the case when a free trial is offered.

Most of those wellness websites that sell so-called miracle products that will help you to lose weight or fight diseases won’t tell you straight up that once you are done with the free trial offer that your credit card will be billed continually for x amount of months until you cancel.

They don’t care if you failed to read that fine print either because as far as they are concerned it’s up to you to do the research before you make the free trial purchase. Sounds a bit off when they say it’s a free trial but you still have to pay for something. I guess it’s not as free as you thought.

Let’s read what happened to this fan and hopefully she will save you the heartache of going through what she went through.

Dear Mr.CBB and Fans,

When you asked us on Facebook if we had a question or anything we wanted to write you about tonight I tossed around contacting you because I wanted to share my story.

This isn’t so much a question as it is a lesson I learned the hard way that I hope no one else has to experience. Money is tight with our budget like most Canadian families and even though we have a significant emergency savings I wasn’t planning on using part of it to pay for something as silly as this.

To be honest I’m very ashamed but realize that we all make mistakes and this one I have learned from and will NEVER do again.

My husband and I are new parents to a baby girl who is one year old and since giving birth I have struggled to lose some of the weight. I’ve worked out and have been eating right although I do like my treats now and again.

I just wasn’t feeling the same motivation as I did before I had my baby girl as I was very active and running 5-10K was a daily occurrence. I knew I wanted to get back into shape but I felt I needed something to kick-start my metabolism.

In the morning I loved to make my energetic smoothies packed with Kale, Parsley and a host of different fruits and protein powder but that wasn’t enough. Taking my multivitamin is great but that wasn’t giving me the push I needed to get moving.

In a sad way this incident has given me the push I needed.

While reading online I came across a weight loss pill that would help get my body moving. I thought how bad could it be if celebrities and others were using it successfully. I was blinded by the reviews and before and after photos.

I’m ashamed to say that I got caught up in all the fluff of this weight-loss magic and I clicked on a link in the article to read more about the product and to order my free trial. Exciting right? Wrong as I would later learn free isn’t always free.

I read what was on the page and clicked the link to fill out the form with all of my necessary information. They asked for a credit card number to pay a small fee of $5.95 for shipping of two different bottles of  pills that apparently must be taken together.

OK, so I’m paying $12.00 US for 2 bottles of this miracle weight-loss pill that will get me moving. The miracle wasn’t weight-loss more like money-loss.

I was already working out so I don’t really know what came over me. I think after having a baby it’s hard to get back to a pre-baby body for some mothers and it can get depressing like I was feeling.

I got up from the computer and got my credit card out from my purse to make this purchase. One credit card I own has only a $500 credit limit which I use for online purchases only.  I also have a PayPal account for this purpose but this payment method was not offered.

Once I filled in the information and hit send I received two email confirmations for the different products. After that I pretty much forgot about it. Just about 2 weeks later there was this package in our mailbox and inside were the two bottles of pills.

There was no receipt or any other paper trail just the two bottles. I thought that was a bit odd but none the less I put the bottles on the counter as it was close to Christmas and I had other things on my mind.

Companies like this love people like me who are too busy to investigate or just shove stuff aside until they have time. Well Christmas had come and gone and I went out to do some Boxing Day Shopping with my husband and his family.

I decided to buy some new clothes and bedding that was on sale. When I got home I went online to see what other deals I could find and I wanted a pair of shoes that were a super amazing price.

When I tried to purchase them using the same credit card as the weight-loss pills I was told I had no more credit on the card.

How could this be? I hadn’t spent my $500 limit.

I started adding up the purchases I made that day because as far as I knew there were no other purchases on the card. Wrong! Dead wrong!

When I called the credit card company I was told that there were charges of $116 twice plus two charges of $5.95 US on the card. WHAT??? I was shocked and had no idea what this was.

I later learned from the credit card company where the charges came from and of course I was freaking out. I had no paper trail and no idea how to contact this company. I was on holiday too and couldn’t even remember the name of the product to look it up.

Thankfully I kept those two confirmation emails that had a link at the bottom (blink and you’ll miss it) so I clicked on it. It brought me to the website where I was originally enticed to purchase these products for a free trial.

I then did what I should have done from the start… clicked on the disclaimer to read the fine print. What did I learn? Let me tell you I WAS NOT IMPRESSED!

They failed to be upfront with customers to tell us that if we did not cancel one week after receiving the product we would be charged FULL PRICE ( a stupid price considering the pills probably cost them $5 if that to manufacture for each bottle.

Each bottle cost $116 plus that shipping fee all in US dollars. By this point my heart was pounding and I wanted to kick some A$$. I made the phone call to let them know just what I thought of them and to tell them I did not authorize them to charge my credit card.

Unfortunately according to them that once I signed up for the free trial I was bound by that agreement in the disclaimer. It was all there in black and white had I of read it. I was kicking myself but at the same time what company does this?

This is probably how they make a  HUGE amount of money from people who screw up. If everyone who signs up for the free trial doesn’t read the rules and ends up paying this ridiculous price of $116 a bottle that’s a pretty awesome profit.

Who in their right mind would pay that price after the free trial anyways? Exactly why they bank on people not reading that fine print.

Had I have not cancelled they would have billed my credit card consecutively for 6 months straight. After that I would have to give them permission to send me another 2 bottles at full-price for another 6 months. No thanks!

That means if I was the type of person who never read her credit card statements and just paid the bill I may have potentially of missed that charge. Over the course of 6 months I would have been out over $700 Canadian. WOW!

Regardless of what company it was all I want to say to all of you is READ THE FINE PRINT on anything that is a free offer or offered free and you pay the shipping.

After about 15 minutes of begging and pleading for customer service to remove the charges she says this…

Rep: I can offer you a 10% refund…

Me: Um, no you have to do better than that. I don’t want this product. It was supposed to be a free trial.

Rep: One second let me talk to my manager

Rep: I can offer you 20% refund

Me: Come on you have to be able to do better than that this is lots of money and I have a family and a new baby. (Like she cared)

Rep: I can offer you 50% off the products and that’s the best I can do. (hey wait a minute you didn’t have to talk to anyone to give me 50% off what’s going on here?)

Clearly this happens all the time and they are told what to do and how to handle the calls when they come in. I suspect they have plenty of upset customers but they don’t care about repeat customers as long as that stupid first payment is paid.

What astounds me is who in their right mind would want to take a job screwing people over like that? I mean really. No conscious? They know what they are doing.

Doesn’t surprise me. How many of you get phone calls saying there is something wrong with your computer and they are from Microsoft? People don’t care if they suck every last dollar from you and scam you in the process.

Then again, I didn’t read the fine print BUT they know darn well that they aren’t being upfront with those people signing up for the free trial. There was no mention of the exact price of the product anywhere. They should have told us without us have to go on a scavenger hunt for the information.

I accepted that and she refunded my credit card although it’s been 2 weeks now I haven’t seen the actual refund on the card. She did say it may take weeks to show up but I’m still not counting on it.

I’ve learned my lesson the hard way and won’t EVER take advantage of any free offers ever again. I don’t care if they are legitimate or not I don’t want to get involved.

Even if they are legitimate you have to worry about cancelling on time and I just don’t have the time nor the patience for that crap.

From now on I’m sticking to exercising and eating healthy as my lifestyle of choice. No more gimmicks for me! Time to put these people out of business.

That’s my story… don’t judge me please. I already feel bad enough as it is.

Anonymous CCB Fan


Final Thoughts


Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for sharing your story with us.

You know we don’t always hear about situations like this because they don’t run into the thousands of dollars but they are just as important.

In doing some homework on the topic I found my way to the Competition Bureau who shares an almost similar story to yours from a woman named Isabelle.

I’m betting it’s the same company but the same message is clear. Read the fine print and don’t fall for free trial offers if you have to pay for something unless you are 100% sure it is legitimate. If you have any doubt in your mind, stay away.

What I did read is that Isabelle called her credit card company to report credit card fraud. She said the same thing as today’s CBB fan who wrote in.

If you aren’t sure it’s worth calling your credit card company to let them know what’s going on and to see what they say. You might even find they refund your money or get rid of the charge altogether.

I hadn’t ordered or received anything other than the original free trial.

Isabelle went on to cancel her credit card and report this fraud to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre which I didn’t even know existed so there you go, I learned something new.

Thanks for writing in CBB FAN and no we won’t judge you because you’ve learned the hard way but don’t beat yourself up about it, move on and be happy you might have helped thousands of other people by sharing your story today.


Has this ever happened to you? Share your story in the comments and help other fans with your suggestions.


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Photo Courtesy: Stuart Miles/

Mr. CBB who was born and raised in the United Kingdom, moved to Canada where he is now a permanent resident. He is also a father to a very active 3 year old boy which keeps him young at heart. He bought his first house at the age of 21 in the UK after graduating University and his second at age 24. Mrs. CBB bought her first house at the age of 30. Both Mr.CBB and his wife are 40-ish year-old finance lovers who accomplished debt freedom before the age of 40. Canadian Budget Binder is a fun, family-friendly place where he shares their financial journey with his readers and hopes to learn about theirs. No silver-spoon just hard work and perseverance. Welcome to Canadian Budget Binder! You've got this!


  1. Your story really angered me. I hate people/companies who take advantage of others and your story is a reminder to never order a free trial item if they need you to pay for shipping and leave a Credit Card number. I have also heard about people who got a free $10 doohickey but they charged them $30 shipping and handling. They never seem to list what the shipping and handling fee is.

  2. Bummer! That is not good! I’m wary of anything “free” that requires you to provide a credit card number–just feels like a scam waiting to happen.

  3. I love free but I’ve learned over the years to read the fine print on EVERYTHING.

  4. I joined a book club that took 2 months to send me cheap reproduction/photocopied versions of the best sellers books promised. They billed my credit card $12 for 3 consecutive months before I caught it. When I called to complain the phone number on the website was out of service. Thankfully VISA cancelled the charges and cancelled my card. VISA said with them keeping the charge at $12 they hoped I wouldn’t notice. It’s an easy trap indeed.

  5. I have seen and heard this many times and have also learned my lesson over time. When I really learned my lesson was likely with this same company. Right after paying the shipping for the free trial, I then did a further google search (should have done this the other way around) and learned about the fraud. I even heard people who cancelled the further purchases but that they were never actually cancelled. They then went to cancel their credit card and somehow the company was able to pass off the payments to the new credit card (under the same account – is this possible!?) so it was an absolute nightmare. Scary stuff!

  6. It’s an easy trap.

    I actually ended up paying 2 months of fees for a free trial recently because I forgot to cancel the subscription. I was pretty frustrated with myself!

  7. I am ashamed to say I could have written this article. Probably the same company, but I used PayPal and had a panic attack when i checked my bank statement. Ended up with a total of $205.95 tried everything, yes I called them and had the most frustrating person the other end – put a stop payment on my account which stopped further payments. The bank said I was one of many that branch had handled!! Never again! Now, If I wanted that product, it is available at the Showcase store in the mall, where TV advertised items are sold, for $9.95 for 60 capsules instead of >$100. Felt like a fool, all over again, when I saw that!!

  8. I have falling for the same scam. I wanted to help my son to loose weight and I order the free trial for $5.99. I too had a time laps and got charge the $116 and I never received the second bottle. It was a hard leason but I did learn not to do it again.

    • Hi Dale,
      Sounds like you ordered the same product as this fan. Did you call them to try and knock some of the price off or did you just pay it and that’s it?

  9. It’s companies out there that prey on our insecurities. I’ve seen ads all over the place, whether TV or print. Companies like that should be outlawed but I doubt it will ever happen, they have been around for centuries.

    Thanks for the heads up and I’ll try and remember to read the fine print. I admit that I’m not that good at reading that portion.

    • Oh I agree and I don’t know why they are allowed to continue to operate like this when our world is in the financial state that it is. Preying on people is not a good sales tactic AT ALL.

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