Many of the fat burners and weight loss products you find online offer a 5 or 7-day free trial to tempt you into trying the product. On the surface, this seems like a great deal. After all, you get to try the product free. At the same time, the retailer seems to be demonstrating confidence in the quality and effectiveness of his or her product.
That’s how it seems anyway. The reality is dramatically different…
In order to receive the “free trial” offered on the product Web site, you must pay a small shipping and handling fee — usually between 5-7 dollars (in my opinion, this hardly makes the free trial “free” — since the shipping costs would be negligible as would be the handling). Of course, you must pay this small fee via a credit card, and this is exactly what the retailer wants… your credit card information.
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Because in most cases, you’ll be automatically added to a recurring billing program (a bottle will be sent to you each month and your card charged accordingly) immediately following the cessation of your free trial period.
Just for your information… you may see the recurring billing program also referred to as an “autoship program” and occasionally, a “membership program.”
And here’s the kicker…
You do not have to indicate your satisfaction with the product, or provide the company permission to charge your credit card and send you more product, or anything. They will begin sending product and charging your card regardless of whether you want it or not.
In all cases I’ve investigated, the retailer has been forthright in revealing to the customer that they will be enrolled in such a program following the cessation of the free trial. However, some retailers are very deceptive in the way they do so — burying this information on a “terms and conditions” page hidden away in a dark corner of their web site, for instance.
Others sandwich this material into a ton of text between their sign up pitches — knowing very well that their audience is likely to scan this text and miss this information (online, people tend to scan pages rather than read every word). Still others bury it into a huge page of boring legalese that no one in their right mind would read.
In most cases, the “deck is stacked” in favor of the retailer, by making it very unlikely that the consumer will be able to cancel the autoship program in compliance with the terms of the agreement. For instance, here’s what one retailer says…
If after trying XXXXX, you decide you do not wish to receive the 30-day supply, simply contact us within 14 days of the day you placed your order. It is as easy as that.
How fast do you think the retailer is going to get that free trial out the door? I’m guessing not so fast at all. Factor in that delay, the shipping time, and the 7 day trial period and… BAM. The 14 days are up. Remember, that’s not 14 days from when you receive the order, that’s 14 days from when you place the order. Theoretically you could be added to an autoship program before you even try the product.
Sure, most retailers claim to be happy to assist customers with cancellation requests. Feedback on this site, however, suggests otherwise. Customer reps, if they can be accessed at all, are deceptive, rude, misleading and downright dishonest.
Good luck getting off that autoship program.
On top of this, some retailers refuse to offer refunds on any “autoship” products. Some offer a credit towards other products, and some don’t even bother with that.
The other thing to keep in mind is…
No matter how good any fat burner or weight loss product is, you’re unlikely to see any results within 5-7 days. But that doesn’t matter to the retailer, because by the time your free trial is over, you’ll be receiving the product on a monthly basis.
The vast majority of 5-7 free trials are completely bogus, and only work in favor of the retailer. If you are investigating any product offering such a trial, be sure to search carefully for the complete terms and conditions. Remember, if you agree to the terms and conditions — even without reading them, the retailer can add you to the autoship program without legal ramifications (but the retailer cannot refuse to remove you from the program however!).
I’d also recommend searching for product feedback on this site — as I’ve said, I’ve received hundreds of e-mails from folks who were unable to cancel their membership in one program or another, and needed to take drastic action.