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Pesky Subscriptions Could Be Costing You More Than You Think

By Elizabeth McLaughlin, AVP Marketing

It starts out as an innocent decision. A monthly subscription to something you’re sold on needing in your life: a beauty product, vitamins, makeup, snacks, massages, clothing, or shoes. You name it, there’s a subscription-based service for just about anything these days. That’s right. The CD and book clubs of yesteryear have expanded into all kinds of products you may or may not even want to try. But free sounds so good, so you try it out. Or the subscription sounds like something you really, really need – like a gym membership or a massage plan. But, if you’re like me, you stop using the service and therefore end up paying much more than you think and ultimately regret signing up in the first place.

“Oh, I’ll cancel it before the trail period is up”

I bet you told yourself that you’d cancel the free trial before the grace period is up. Guess what these tricky companies don’t want you to do – remember that you need to cancel before the trial period is up. That’s why they lure you in with deals that are just too good to pass up. And when you keep it going one, two, six or even 12 months longer than you had originally planned, they get your full price payments and are entitled to them under your original agreement.

Here’s one simple example: My family signed up for a 7-day trial of a children’s programming channel thinking the kids would like to watch some of the shows available through it. We hadn’t planned on keeping the subscription – we would just cancel it after 7 days. But life went on and we completely forgot about this channel. In fact, we didn’t even watch one show from it. But alas, one day, I saw an alert come in from the Affinity FCU Card App indicating a transaction of $4.99 from the channel. When I got the alert, I thought to myself, “I really need to cancel that.” But what did I do? I forgot. So then the next month, I got another transaction alert for $4.99. Uggh. That time it sprang me to action and I did cancel the subscription.  But I would up paying $10 bucks for nothing! (Thank goodness for transaction alerts – that could have gone on and on for months without me noticing.)

Is it legal for them to continue to charge me?

Yes it is. They can charge you for all the months you don’t want the service but got it anyway. And they will unless you follow their sometimes complicated rules for cancellation. So what does that mean? That means that even if you don’t think you owe them the money – maybe you didn’t even use the service – they have every right to collect on it. Disputing the charge with the credit card company won’t do any good. The company is within their rights to collect this fee from you so your credit card company can’t do anything to help.

3 Words: Don’t Do It

There are really only 2 options to avoid these pesky subscription charges: Don’t sign up in the first place or diligently follow the cancellation rules (which can be easier said than done – one idea is to set a calendar alert the day before it expires, but then you need to have time to act right then and there). So to me, there’s really only one option to avoid the fees. Just don’t do it. Don’t sign up. Don’t take the bait. Don’t take the free trial. As hard as it will be to pass up the “deal of the century,” pass it up and you’ll thank me for it la

Additional Resources:

Affinity’s FCU Card App, sends notification alerts on every card transaction. 

Check out this helpful tutorial on Affinity FCU Push Notifications and how they can be used to enhance your mobile banking experience.</

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