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Mastercard Will Protect Users from Expensive Free Trial Forgetfulness

January 17, 2019, 1:47 PM UTC

Anyone who’s signed up for a free trial with a credit card but forgotten to cancel the service should take a quick glance over at Mastercard.

The U.S. financial giant has just introduced new rules that require merchants to send cardholders a fresh email or text message reminding them of their first post-free trial charge. Alongside this, the message needs to include explicit instructions on how to cancel the card outright.

At the same time, merchants will now be required to send out reminders for all future recurring transactions, while Mastercard statements will also include the merchant’s contact information, to make it easier for users to follow up on any mystery charges they may spot.

“Free trial offers can be a legitimate and useful way to increase sales and improve consumer satisfaction,” Mastercard wrote in its announcement. “The new rules will help in increase transparency and ensure an outstanding experience for cardholders.”

The Better Business Bureau has received thousands of complaints about all sorts of trials that turn into a trial to escape. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission even warns consumers about the practice and offers a complaints service (when the government is not shutdown).

It remains to be seen if other tech-savvy companies follow Mastercard’s lead, however: it can take 14 (admittedly small) steps to cancel Amazon Prime, for example.