How to Avoid Subscription Traps: “No-Strings Attached” Trial Offers – Competition Bureau of Canada


Competition Bureau of Canada is reminding Canadians to not get trapped into the “No-Strings Attached” trial offers. These so-called free, no-obligation trial products like a free trial of weight-loss pills, muscle-enhancement pills or anti-wrinkle serum, might put you on the hook for the full cost of that trial product, an unwanted subscription for expensive products or even charges for products never ordered.


Competition Bureau’s tips to avoid free-trial traps

  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics like pop-up surveys, customer queues, or countdown timers and take five minutes to stop and think before entering your credit card information.
  • Don’t take celebrity endorsements at face value. It is also good to keep in mind that celebrity images are often used without consent.
  • Find and read the terms and conditions: If you can’t find or understand the terms and conditions, don’t sign up for the trial.
  • Beware of added upsell products – Clicking “proceed to checkout” or “complete my order” may automatically add more products to your order. To avoid further charges, look for the fine print.
  • Do an online search for the company or product with the words “complaint” and “scam” to help find potential issues. Do some comparison-shopping if the product is available elsewhere.
  • You can use adblockers to hide social media ads, pop-up surveys and sponsored “news” articles.

How to protect yourselves if you do sign-up for a free trial

  • Keep all receipts, emails and text messages.
  • Check your credit card statements regularly for unauthorized charges.
  • Contact your financial institution to request a stop payment because of suspected fraud.
  • Report suspected fraud and help the authorities and others like you.

Filing Complaints

Contact the Competition Bureau and file a complaint by phone at 1-800-348-5358 or online, if you believe you have been misled by a free trial offer.

You may also file a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), the Better Business Bureau or your provincial/territorial consumer protection agency.

Reporting to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
By phone: 1-888-495-8501 (toll free); Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 4:45 pm, eastern time.

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