1. Unknown Subscriptions: We’ve probably all seen this when making an online purchase- another offer or discount at checkout. You usually have to click or unclick the box. Be careful- if you don’t read the fine print you could be agreeing to another purchase!
Real life example: You make a big purchase at a large electronic store. Without realizing it, you have also signed up for a 12-month subscription to a magazine.
2. Zombie Subscriptions: You cancel a subscription, let’s say a magazine subscription or gym membership and you aren’t being charged- but then a few months later, it’s back from the dead and you are being charged again. It’s usually an oversight or mistake on the part of the company, but unless you catch it and point it out, you’re giving your money away without getting anything for it.
Real life example: You cancelled your gym membership and months later discover you are once again being charged for it. When you contact the company, they correct it and tell you it must have been an oversight. If you want a refund you will need to know how many months you have been charged for and insist on getting your money back.
3. Auto-Renewals: This occurs when you sign up for a service that bills you monthly or quarterly. Some retailers will not contact you before each payment is due- simply charging your card and sticking you with the card because you were “too late”.
Real life example: You purchase a beauty product or a membership. Every month you will be automatically charged the fee unless you contact them to end the subscription. When you do, they will not usually refund you for past months regardless of whether you used the product or service.
4. Free to Paid: Warning!! When you are getting something for free and you have to cough up your credit card, there is usually a catch! It may be free for a trial before it converts into a permanent subscription.
Real life example: Delivery time is considered part of your free trial period so your 15 day free trial may be only 11 or 12 days before the payment kicks in.
5. Cost Creep: You think you’re signing up for a monthly subscription for a particular amount like $5.99, but the cost creeps up slowly each month to $6.99 or $7.99. You may not realize because the company doesn’t advertise the increase each month – but it’s in the fine print.
Real life example: You sign up for a trial offer agreeing to pay the $5.99 shipping and handling. If you do nothing, 14 days later you will be charged an enrollment fee of $84.78.