You’ve seen those promotions, maybe you have signed up for one or more – $1 for a month’s trial of an online course or membership site? And no obligation to continue after the trial period. Sound good?

But how do people make money out of that sort of arrangement?

Well, anyone who has ever signed up for one of these deals will know, how you pay your dollar is that you give your credit card details. And once the trial period is up, unless you have remembered or been reminded that you are now about to enter a new phase, where you will be paying some multiple of a dollar – ten, twenty, thirty or more dollars a month – your credit card is now going to be debited for that amount.

But what if you were new to this sort of deal and not a suspicious type of person and had some idea that maybe someone would contact you close to the end of the trial period and ask you did you want to now pay a lot more money to continue?

If that was your view, you could well be in for a big surprise.That’s true too even if you knew how the system worked but had not put any arrangement in place to remind you to make a decision close enough to the end of the trial period not to unwittingly incur the next payment (and perhaps the next and the next).

Whatever your approach or understanding, the longer you left it before you checked your credit card statements, the bigger the surprise.

As the blogger known as TheAntiHype asks in his witty but fundamentally serious post on this subject, titled The Forced Continuity Credit Card Dance, if we are going to get into these low cost (or no cost) trials, we need to have a plan and a system in place:

Work out your business strategy. Decide what you need and only buy what you need to move your business on when you need it.

Check carefully whether you’re signing up for a one-off payment or some regular recurring membership site. And above all – keep records of what you’ve done.

Good advice. Don’t fall into the trap of buying that “gift” of a dollar trial and then unwittingly allow that to transmute into a bigger gift from you back to the course or membership site promoter, a gift that if we are not careful can keep on giving.

As TheAntiHype suggests, we should heed the advice that the Sgt Phil Esterhaus character used to give to the officers about to go out onto the mean streets in the television classic, Hill Street Blues, “Hey, let’s be careful out there!”

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