Mastercard Introduces New “Free Trial” Rules

I’m surprised that I missed this one. Starting April 12, Mastercard will introduce new rules regarding free trials. And while it will only apply to physical products, it’s an important step in helping consumers who subscribe for something and then can’t figure out how to get the merchant to stop. It’s big enough that I’m willing to ignore the fact that the press release author doesn’t know the difference between “unsatisfied” and “dissatisfied.” Here are the details.

Mastercard Free Trial Rules

credit card, mastercard

One thing about the internet: It’s pretty easy to sign up for “stuff.” Prepared meals? Check. Fancy soaps? Sure, why not? It almost makes me nostalgic for the days of Columbia House and BMG. Almost.

Hopefully, though, that craziness could be coming to an end. Starting April 12, Mastercard is introducing a “free trial” policy. Merchants who sell a physical product through a subscription can no offer a “set and forget” it. Rather, at the end of the free trial period, you will have to “opt in.” If you don’t choose to continue to receive the item, the merchant can’t bill you. I’m sure that it saves Mastercard time and money, as well, by cutting down on the phone calls. Good. Nothing like a win-win scenario.

It’s not perfect. It only applies to physical items, so they can still charge you for that credit protector that you accidentally signed up for. But I hope it’s a move in the right direction to restore a little bit of power to the consumer.


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