If you think 7-day free trials are a great deal, think again

February 5, 2021 — by Nilay Mishra
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Major streaming services take advantage of unsuspecting customers. I’m not proud to count myself among their number.

With all the jokes about people not being able to cancel 2021 after experiencing the first week of January, I’m starting to think I’m not the only one who suffers from streaming services legally swindling their clients.

Over the last week of winter break, my family and I decided to watch a movie every day (though there weren’t any doctors to keep away). Logically, we logged into Amazon Prime, one of the world’s largest streaming services.

Amazon Prime has a system in which many movies are hidden behind paywalls. Translation: They are credit card drains. To bypass paying for each movie, you need to buy a monthly subscription to a specific, obscure channel hosted on Amazon. These are often pricey, sometimes more than $15 per month.

Since I usually don’t watch a movie a day, my family decided to outsmart these channels by getting a 7-day free trial for each. After all, once winter break is over, who would need subscriptions to Starz or Cinemax or AMC+?

After entering credit numbers, we were able to watch all the movies we wanted. 

  Even better, was the bill: $0. We felt like champions. It was almost as if we were gaming the system.

Then, the system played us. Despite sounding good on paper, don’t fall into this trap. Seven-day trials are simply a way for obscure channels to get customers to subscribe by making services appear free and then scam them by charging for a month. 

Sadly, my family forgot to cancel the subscriptions after winter break. We finally remembered to cancel the subscriptions in the second week of January — but at a cost. The actual final bill? More than $80. We could have bought all six movies we watched. Not at all a good deal.

The moral of the story: 7-day free trials are a great way to lose money to corporate forces that are obviously a lot smarter than most consumers.