GFA Federal Credit Union

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  • Nov 15, 2023

Tech Talk with Jeff - "Free" products

“Hey! Try our product for free, just pay shipping and handling!” Free, you say? Wow! Guess it’s worth a try…not so much.

We are inundated with ads all the time. Over the years I have worked to train myself to ignore ads for the most part, but not everyone takes that approach. A lot of ads are valid and beneficial for finding out about products we’d like to have or use. Then there are the ones that seem good but are not. These may be advertised to you on TV, social media or in an email. They can be for anything, including skin creams and those types of products.

When an ad screams FREE! Warning bells need to go off. Nothing in life is ever free. There is always a hook. Whether it is giving away personal information (and those do exist) or just having you pay the shipping, there is a hook. In the case of free, but just pay the shipping and handling, the hook is that they will have your credit card information and often the fine print says you are signing up for a subscription. A subscription that you may have a hard time canceling. Ouch.

How do I know? I have dealt with some of these companies. Someone I know placed one of these types of orders. It was noticed right away and addressed quickly. Less than an hour after placing this type of order, it was extremely difficult to cancel. They claimed it was already in production and could not be stopped. You don’t want to deal with that. It’s pure pain.

If you must provide your credit card to get something for free, it is not free and should be avoided. You also need to be aware of what you are signing up for. Always pay attention to the hooks (small print). Sometimes it takes a bit of research since they will hide the fine print. It is a scam after all, no matter what method (TV, social media, email, phone call, etc.) they use to advertise to you.

In my case, we were able to kill the order after a lot of very angry back and forth and escalating the call multiple times with threats. It’s not a fun way to spend an hour plus.

Be aware and be safe!

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