When I was younger, I can vividly remember the free trial subscriptions offered for my favorite magazines, CDs, and book clubs. However, anytime I asked my mom if I could sign up to get the free gift, I was met with an adamant no. I often wondered why my mom took such a strong stance again trial subscriptions. If they are really free for 30 days and you can cancel, what’s the problem? However, after I signed up for my first one, I quickly found out why she had such a negative view of them. I was left with a huge bill for several magazines when I forgot to cancel a trial subscription. For those who have found themselves in a similar situation, here are the steps you can take towards trying to get your money back.
What to Do If You Forgot to Cancel a Trial Subscription
In most instances, your problem is easily resolved with a phone call or email to the company’s customer service department. However, if you are encountering obstacles, there are other ways that you may be able to get your money back if you forgot to cancel a trial subscription.
Contact the Company Directly
1. Cancel right away.
The problem with free trial subscriptions is that you are entitled to everything they offer. But, you have to carefully read the fine print to figure out what restrictions apply. Every offer allows you to enjoy the service or product for the full length of the trial subscription. And, even if you cancel, they may allow you to keep the free gift that came along with it.
However, you will be expected to pay if you don’t cancel when it expires. So, if you don’t call to cancel, they assume no contact means you want to continue paying for it. And, you can be certain they will start billing you the day your trial offer is up.
If you forgot to cancel a trial subscription before the deadline, call right away and inform them. Even if they aren’t willing to refund your money, at least you won’t have to deal with this problem again. And, best of all, you can avoid paying for future subscription fees.
2. Request to refund your money.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many others have made the same mistake. You are certainly not the first person, and you won’t be the last. In all likelihood, their customer service department receives several requests for a refund each week from people in your exact situation.
Oftentimes, the company may be willing to refund the fee if you choose to cancel. There is an even greater chance they will waive the fee if you are within a few days of the trial expiration. However, you’ll never know if you can get a refund until you ask.
Worst case scenario: they tell you no. Fortunately, you still have other options.
3. Ask for a pro-rated rate.
If the company is unwilling to offer a full refund, you can ask about a pro-rated rate. This way you will only pay for the time you held the subscription past the end of the trial subscription.
For example, in my case, I forgot to cancel a trial subscription and paid for the entire year. I noticed it a month after the trial had ended. So, I immediately called their customer service line. I explained that I had intended to cancel and did not want to keep the subscription. When I asked for a refund, they informed me that the company had a strict policy on full refunds.
However, I then asked for a pro-rated amount. The agent happily informed me that I could pay a reduced fee for the time I held the subscription past the trial period. Then, they refunded the remaining amount back to me. While my mistake did cost me a small amount of money, asking for the pro-rated fee cut my losses.
Seek Outside Help If You Are Locked In
1. Make sure you understand the terms of your agreement.
If you feel the terms of your agreement are unclear or unfair, make sure you read them carefully and fully understand. Every subscription and company are different, so don’t assume that the same rules apply.
Before you call customer service, review the terms of your contract. There may be some details you or the customer service agent overlooked. One such clause that could help you get your refund is if they allow a grace period. If you are able to find the terms clearly stated in black and white, they must honor the terms of the agreement.
2. Ask for help from discussion forums.
Another place you can turn to for help is online discussion forums. Since many other people have been in your shoes, sites like Reddit and Quora are a great source of information. You can find threads specific to the membership you are dealing with where people give you advice on how to navigate their customer service. And, when all else fails, you can always enter your questions into a search engine to point you in the right direction.
3. Call your credit card company for assistance.
If you are running out of ideas about how to get a refund, you can always call your credit card company for help. Some companies have policies in place to handle this specific situation.
The first step is to contact them to dispute the charge. They will act on your behalf and may be able to resolve the issue. You will just need to provide them with the relevant information about the subscription and charges. Then, their customer service department will take over from there.
Ways to Avoid Trial Subscription Fees
Although it can be a hassle when you forget to cancel, that doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether. However, if you do sign up and plan to cancel, you’ll want to stay on top of things. Here are a few tips to help you avoid paying unnecessary fees.
- Mark the date on your calendar. Then set reminders and notifications before the trial expires.
- Cancel them right away if you don’t want to continue with them.
- Choose a credit card that notifies you before renewals.
- Use virtual cards with short-term expiration dates. When it comes time for payment, they will need to contact you for an updated payment method.
- Stick with subscriptions that you would be willing to pay for. Even if you forget to cancel, it won’t be a complete waste of money.
However, if you know you have a habit and frequently forget to cancel a trial subscription, it may be best to avoid them entirely. When you feel tempted, remind yourself of how much money it has cost you in the past. Sometimes the only way to prevent yourself from making the same mistake again is by not putting yourself in the situation.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.
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