Failed to cancel those so-called free trial subscriptions? You’re not alone

Free trial, until it isn't.
Free trial, until it isn’t.

$7.99 to Amazon.  $19.99 to the Wall Street Journal.  Another $9.99 to Amazon.  

Those are just a sampling of charges for so-called free trial subscriptions I recently failed to cancel in time to avoid being charged.  

You’ve probably done it, too.  

Attorney General Aaron Ford is joining other attorneys general who want the Federal Trade Commission to adopt regulations to prevent Nevadans from being hoodwinked by negative option marketing schemes, in which your inaction amounts to your consent.  

“Significant problems continue in any type of marketing where a consumer’s silence is deemed to be acceptance, thereby upsetting the common expectation that a consumer is not bound until there is a mutual agreement – in effect a handshake where each party affirmatively accepts the material terms of the agreement,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter to the FTC’s acting director.  “This is not what happens in negative option marketing in which consumers often find themselves in a sales plan where they are being billed and called upon to pay for products and services; and the circumstances fail to show that material terms were clearly and conspicuously disclosed or affirmatively agreed upon.”

Ford says current regulations from 1973 only require consumers to be notified of periodic deliveries and given the option to cancel before a deadline. Ford wants the FTC to require sellers to notify consumers how and when they’ll be billed, as well as their options to cancel.

The attorneys general are asking the FTC to require sellers to obtain separate consent from consumers who agree to be charged after the trial period ends.    

Additionally, Ford and the others are asking that sellers be required to detail a simple cancellation process that allows them to cancel the same way they enrolled.  

Finally, consumers who end up enrolled for services they didn’t intend to receive should be entitled to a refund from the date of enrollment.

Ford signed on to the letter along with attorneys general from 21 states and the District of Columbia.  

Dana Gentry
Senior Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, a grandson, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.