Risk-Free Trials? (Credit card required)

14 replies
Curious, what do you guys think about online services that offer a risk-free trial, but require you to enter your credit card before you can "try it out" for free?

Personally, I find it exceptionally annoying when I visit the site that requires me not only to create an account before seeing any "free" information ( probably simply because there are so many sites that require you to do that), but then states that in order for you to have a seven day free trial you actually have to enter your credit card details, and then if you go past the seven days to automatically be charged some sort of subscription fee.

Curious if any of you have had any success with this method, or businesses that implement this method simply just don't know how to do good business.
#card #credit #required #riskfree #trials
  • Profile picture of the author artwebster
    This is something which you have to be very, very careful of.

    Phishers go to huge lengths to capture data but, here you have someone simply asking for it and, in all probability, receiving it.

    If someone offers me a free trial, than that had better be what I get! My credit card details are never given in any purchase I make on line and that, really, should be the same for everybody. Simply transmitting the details leaves them open to interception.
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    • Profile picture of the author lassitermarketing
      I just launched a membership site and did a $1 30 day trial. I want buyers not freebie seekers for the content that I am providing. The free trial with no cc required doesn't make sense from the publisher's perspective.
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      • Profile picture of the author Johnathan
        Originally Posted by lassitermarketing View Post

        I just launched a membership site and did a $1 30 day trial. I want buyers not freebie seekers for the content that I am providing. The free trial with no cc required doesn't make sense from the publisher's perspective.
        The thing is... It might actually deter 'real' buyers... For example, I've found myself in the market to "buy" something (and surprisingly I do purchase a lot) -- but I do want to want to "make sure" it is what I want first... I don't have a lot of time to muck about and spend 10 minutes signing up for something, "just" to see if it is what I want. Plus, it usually seems suspicious if it is a "forced" signup...

        It's like walking into a store -- but at the store they tell you that they want to scan your credit card first before you are even allowed to look at anything, and put a $500 hold on it. And, if you leave the store without buying anything, then they will refund your $500 when you leave... How much shopping would you do at a store like that?
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        • Profile picture of the author trafficwave
          Originally Posted by Johnathan View Post


          It's like walking into a store -- but at the store they tell you that they want to scan your credit card first before you are even allowed to look at anything, and put a $500 hold on it. And, if you leave the store without buying anything, then they will refund your $500 when you leave... How much shopping would you do at a store like that?
          That's pretty much how it works for hotels but that's a different conversation.

          I've run both:

          A TRUE free trial (no cc required) and a "token" payment to weed out the freebie junkies.

          The conversion rate between the two was very similar.

          If the offer is compelling enough and the prospect sees real value, there really isn't much of a problem, IMO.

          But I think the reason a lot of companies require the cc up front for the free trial period is that they actually count on you forgetting for a while. Even if you don't use their service, they've got you for the recurring charges because you forgot to cancel.

          Just my own thoughts on it.
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          • Profile picture of the author sylviad
            Originally Posted by trafficwave View Post

            That's pretty much how it works for hotels but that's a different conversation.

            ... But I think the reason a lot of companies require the cc up front for the free trial period is that they actually count on you forgetting for a while. Even if you don't use their service, they've got you for the recurring charges because you forgot to cancel.

            Just my own thoughts on it.
            In the case of hotels, it's more for making sure they can get billed if you overstay what you paid for up front and try to skip out in the middle of the night, or run up a huge tab on the in-room services (mini-bar, video rentals, etc.)

            You said exactly what I meant to say... they count on you forgetting. Just like the 1 year guarantee people offer. The idea is that if you have a whole year to return a product, you're sure to forget before the year is out.

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  • Profile picture of the author Johnathan
    Any other thoughts?
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    • Profile picture of the author sylviad
      Hi Johnathan,

      I agree with you. If you are offering a free trial, then it's a simple matter of having people sign up to get the item. Most of us are accustomed to that. But then to ask for your credit card sounds like a sneaky way to get your information up front so they can get your money in case you forget to let them know you are not interested. How many sites do people sign up for things that are free? It is easy to forget that one or two where you gave your CC and have a deadline, especially if it's only a few weeks. That's my experience anyway.

      Personally, I often just wave off the offer if they want my CC before I've agreed to take their paid offer. Either it's free or it isn't. Why are they so afraid to let you have their trial without getting what I consider confirmation that you're serious. Maybe I'm not serious. If I don't like the offer, I won't be.

      I know some people have fancy ways of delivering bonuses, too, because they want to deter people who buy or sign up just to get them. I suspect that asking for your CC on a free trial follows the same line.

      As far as the publisher is concerned... it makes little difference. If you are serious about offering something free, prove it. Don't try to "trick" visitors into something they might not want once they see your sample.

      But that's just my opinion.

      Sylvia
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  • Profile picture of the author artwebster
    This is now a more interesting post because, since I first responded my credit card has been charged $30 twice by a company called FX Marketing. I don't remember ever giving my credit card details to this company, I am not even sure what the company is and I can't imagine why I would break my own rule about supplying cedit card details on line.

    My Spanish bank is investigating this as a criminal act of fraud but it is a good reason for not handing over credit card details because I am assuming I must have done so at some time.
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    You might not like what I say - but I believe it.
    Build it, make money, then build some more
    Some old school smarts would help - and here's to Rob Toth for his help. Bloody good stuff, even the freebies!

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  • Profile picture of the author DotComBum
    While some may felt annoyed like you, others might not mind submitting the card for the free trial when it's the good stuffs that they are looking for, it's a good way to turn away freebie seekers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Dominic
    I saw the title of this thread and just had to answer. I think using the term "risk-free" is misleading when it requires submitting information such as a credit card.

    To me that's just not "risk-free" anymore because they have my credit card information, and that puts me at risk of but not limited to the following:

    1. Them charging my credit card
    2. Their information getting stolen
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    • Profile picture of the author BlueJam
      It stops me dead in my tracks 99% of the time. I just click the back button and look elsewhere...
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  • Profile picture of the author Ramage
    Always read the terms and conditions. Usually after the free trial, you are automatically billed some ridiculous amount for "membership" or whatever since they already have your credit card details and you agreed to the terms.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jenna Paulson
      As a publisher, i wouldnt do a zero cost free trial. As you could get lots of freebie-seekers who maybe dont even have a credit card.

      Its more sensible to do a low amount such as $1.99, and then see.

      From a customer perspective, i dont mind paying the above, but always get scared when i request to cancel my trial and their support doesnt email me back.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert Puddy
    I think its perfectly reasonable to ask for cc details on a trial free or not...

    Though the best advice here is to use a $1 trial which requires cc details to continue, and lowers the risk of bail out at the signup section.

    A trial free or $1 is bait to catch your fish... nothing wrong with this guys your either in business or not its a wide spread and legitimate marketing tool

    Robert
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