Computer 101

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Free Trials.  When you go to the grocery store you're occasionally apt to bump into someone giving out free samples of meat or cheese or whatever.  I always avoid those because I'm just one of those who feels obligated to go ahead and buy the product since they were nice enough to let me have a bite for free.  Unless of course, the product is terrible, then I feel no such obligation.

Free trials are not just in the grocery stores anymore.  Now they're all over the internet.

The first time I ever ran across one was Microsoft's "Office" free trial.  When the "Office" free trial first came on people's computers, naturally they started using it, putting in documents and saving all kinds of stuff in there.  After you'd used it for a while, poof!  All your saved documents or graphs or tables or whatever you put in there, were no longer accessible...unless you sent a hefty check to Microsoft to reactivate it.

Now, the internet is full of stuff that offers "free trials", especially games.  Stay far, far away from that stuff.  It's hardly free, although it can be a major trial.

This is particularly true if they ask for credit card information.  You see, the trial is usually over in a week or a month or so.  After the trial period, you have to go back in and manually remove yourself from the trial, which they neither make obvious nor easy to do.  If you don't, they assume you want their service and start using your credit card information to surreptitiously start automatically sucking your money out of your bank account.  Unless you keep a sharp watch on your bank statements, you'll never know this money is being sucked out...which is the way they like it.

There are a lot of offenders out there.  PlayStation is one of them.  Someone very close to me opted for PlayStation's "free trial" back in December 2015 and of course, never knew they had to opt out of the service to stop it.  Not being one to keep a close eye on their bank statements, PlayStation quite happily continued to suck $30 a month out of their bank account, and they never knew it...until, they suddenly found there was over $400 less in their account than they thought.

After hours of waiting on a silent cell-phone to talk to someone at PlayStation, they were informed that the bank had to handle it and they would probably only get back the last $30 payment.  On the phone to the bank, the bank said they should be able to get back 3 months of it, (Hey, $90 is $90) but that there would be paperwork to fill out.  Maybe the last 3 months would be refunded.  Maybe not.

Myself, I'm an old-school computer gamer.  I play a lot of games on my computer...but hardly ever online.  I've got a few great strategy games, one or 2 sci-fi games and of course, a couple of good chess games.  All on disks that I bought, with cash, in a brick and mortar store.  On rare occasion I may play chess online but these online games are paid for with advertisements I have to sit through.  I've never given them any credit card or banking information online and I've always been suspicious of "free trials".  Turns out I had good reason to be.

Since these gaming businesses don't want you to know you have to actively stop them from sucking out your money, as I mentioned, they never make it easy nor obvious as to how to do it, and they never ask you if it's OK, because they know, 9 times out of 10 you'll say "No".

I'd stay well away from any of these "free trials" and as PlayStation pulled this little trick, they're at the top of my list of things to avoid like the cyber-plague.  John

Planet SOS
Versailles Missouri  65084