Daily Egyptian

You’re Dumb and Wrong: Stop making me give my credit card for free trials

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You’re Dumb and Wrong: Stop making me give my credit card for free trials

By Jeremy Brown, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of The Daily Egyptian, its staff or its associates. 

Making me put in my credit card information for a free trial is like a man telling you “I’m too big for condoms” before he screws you.

I’d like to see the financials of how much money Amazon Prime, Hulu or Xbox Game Pass makes when they charge people for their first month after a free trial is over, before the customer freaks out and cancels. It must be a nice sum if they’re willing to frustrate a lot of people every month.

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Free trials should, in theory, be the best way to convince someone to try your product. The “proof is in the pudding” marketing tactic uses the inherent strength of your service to prove its quality.

But, when trying to sign up for them, it’s an obnoxious norm now to require the user to add their credit card information. I never understood how companies thought this would come across to consumers well. This practice is the same that malware scams use when they tell you “Doctors HATE him with this one simple trick.”

It comes across as an immediate lie – “we want to give you this for free. Also, totally unrelated: Can I get access to your savings?”

More unfortunately is that this norm makes free trials unappealing on the whole. I can’t trust them to be upfront about the way they work because they’re never just a “free trial.” There should never be strings attached to the word “free,” so I don’t understand the corporate reasoning behind being misleading.

I think a better way to go about free trials is to notify the user once the time has expired, then give them the option to quickly sign up for the service or stop. This way, there’s no unnecessary pressure on customers to be proactive in making sure they aren’t losing a few bucks.

Of course there are people who could exploit this – people who generate email accounts for infinite free trials and the credit card requirement is a deterrent from this behavior.

However, in no way does that requirement stop people from doing the same exploit. Instead, those people just use the same credit card and remember to cancel when time is up, while still infinitely using the company’s service for free. They just need be more cautious.

Even so, if the credit card requirement was removed, most people find that using an exploit like email generators is too much work. Either that, or most are fine with paying a monthly fee for what are usually pretty good services. Except Crunchyroll – put One Punch Man back, come on.

When talking to friends on this subject, many of them don’t find this a serious issue. I do think it’s a minor one, but it doesn’t mean we as customers should just deal with it. That mentality leads to Netflix always playing audio on PS4 when you haven’t even chosen anything. Seriously, who needed that?

You’re Dumb and Wrong is a weekly column about video games, movies and popular entertainment from Arts & Entertainment editor Jeremy Brown. He can be reached at [email protected]

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