Are Free Trials Really Free?

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People simply love the word “FREE”. They are happy and willing to use anything that is given to them for free. So our marketers and ad agencies play really well with this word. In our everyday lives, we have come across different variations for free like:

  • Free trials
  • Buy One Get One Free
  • Risk-Free
  • Free and clear.

However, despite the various versions of free, it remains an incredibly powerful word, and its influence over us as consumers is entrancing.

Free deals are always irresistible. In the digital world, we are provided with free trials for almost all services. The idea behind it is to ensure a hassle-free experience to the consumers by giving them the privilege to opt out if they aren’t willing to continue the service after the free trial. However often by the end of the trial, we end up paying for it. This is mainly because of people’s tendency to avoid losses in order to acquire equivalent gains – Loss aversion bias.

But is this the case all the time? Have you ever been disappointed with free trials?

A couple of weeks ago I was searching for free online courses on Adobe Photoshop. I clicked on one of the Google suggested links. Now, this website had a well-organized menu which helped me to find my course in no time. They had offered Photoshop courses for beginners and advanced. Being a novice I opted for beginners course. To get started, I had to select a pricing package.

Just like any user, I was happy to see the free trial package and decided to proceed with it. But I got redirected to a payment screen where I was asked to provide my card details to activate the free trial.

This actually frustrated me as I was expecting to start right away with the course after choosing the free trial. There are many top-rated websites that use this practice of collecting user’s card details before the trial package expires. From a user’s perspective, I feel this may let down the user as it hinders their expected flow of navigation. In other words, it can be considered as a trick that manipulates users to do something that they never intended to do – Dark Pattern, which cannot be accepted. Always ensure there exists a correlation between the CTA and the corresponding  screen. In the case of a free trial, payment details can be collected at a later stage when the trial expires. This would allow the user to uninterruptedly explore features of the site and thereby enjoy a positive user experience.

Have you ever experienced something similar? Share your thoughts with us if you had to encounter any difficulties with free trials.

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