I almost never sign up for free trials. Why? Because I don’t trust companies to make it easy to unsubscribe. Once I put my credit card into a free trial, it seems like the company will do whatever it takes to prevent me from unsubscribing. Plus, more often than not, it feels like they “accidentally” charge me, regardless of whether I cancel. Sometimes it’s so hard to unsubscribe, I have to contest the charges with my credit card company.
What do they do?
1. The company doesn’t remind me that my free trial is coming to an end. 30 day free trials are long. After 30 days, I may have forgotten that the service even exists and discover it on my bill, several months later.
2. The company doesn’t let me unsubscribe on the web interface. They make me unsubscribe on the phone and they make it hard to find the number. Then, when I do call in, they hassle me to stay.
As a customer, I hate that. In fact, I miss out on companies that I genuinely want to try out, simply because I know it will be difficult to leave.
So, what do we do? Our policy is that we only charge people who consciously want to be charged. That’s it. We have a positive obligation to inform people that they’re being charged. Maybe I’m being naive about how real business is done, but I only want customers to consciously pay for our service.
On a technical level, this is really, really easy to do:
1. One week before the free trial ends, we remind the person that their free trial is coming to an end. We explain what they need to do to cancel it.
2. You can simply cancel on the “My Account” page. We don’t make you call us to cancel. You don’t have to email us. You don’t have to find the buried link. We even use bing blue for the link, which Microsoft proved as having an extremely high click through rate. We’ve never received an email from someone saying they couldn’t find the link.
So, does this have an impact on sales? It’s hard to say, since we don’t split test being sneaky. But, I know that people have been grateful; they even tweet about how easy it is to unsubscribe. Regardless, I think it’s the right thing to do and it makes us focus on the good things, like how to make HelloFax into an awesome service.