Sunday, January 27, 2008

30 Day Free Trials can earn you $$$$

I know, I know...I should have asked to have my name taken off the do not call list years ago. But, I didn't! And, I won't! You know why? I love phone solicitors. I really do. They can make me money, if I am willing to listen to their terms and conditions. It sounds crazy, but it is true. I went out to my mailbox yesterday, and I had a $10 Walmart gift card waiting for me, thanks to one of my phone solicitor friends!!

Let me start by saying I made $130 plus dollars last year. It isn't a substantial amount, but like all the other little adds up and well, it is free money! Now, what I mean by 30 day free trials is this. When you get your credit card statement, have you ever gotten the little flyer for a free 30 day trial to credit protector? What about identity theft protection? I have even had travel programs through my credit company ( it basically works like AAA ). Anyway, either my credit card company or a third party calls and offers me these offers. Sometimes, I do actually receive the flyers with my bill. Or, when I log into my credit card, there is also sometimes a spot for current offers. I check this periodically.

How it works is that I agree to sign up for the free trial. While on the phone, I make sure to ask the actual start date of my trial ( some begin when you confirm on the phone, and others begin when you get the actual packet in the mail ). I then ensure I get their phone number to cancel and repeat the phone number back to them. This is extremely important. Finally, ask if you can begin accessing your benefits immediately online. Most times, this is not possible. So, don't worry, they just want you to have their benefit material in hand.

Now, the important aspect here is that you go to your daily planner. Whether that is an actual planner, your computer or some hand held need to immediately write down your cancellation date and the phone number and the name of the company. This takes you mere seconds and then you don't have to worry about it until your material arrives or your cancellation date is upon you. If the material does arrive in the mail, and it actually is something you are interested in....well, then go ahead and read through it and see if there is anything you can use while under your free trial. But, don't get too hooked and decide not to call and cancel!! Here is where you make the money.

First, just to be safe, I personally call the company back when my benefit material arrives. The reason I do this is to make sure what my ACTUAL cancellation date is at that time. At this point, they will have an actual confirmed date in their system to tell you. I then, alter the date in my calendar to whatever the actual date is and make a note to myself to cancel 3 days before ( I like to give myself a little extra time, in case something would come up and I wasn't able to check my calendar one day ). The reason the date may be different than what you originally wrote down is that they just estimate when the material will arrive in the mail to your house. And, as we all know, the dates can vary on arrival through the postal service.

Now, on the date I marked to call, I call and request to cancel my service. Nine times out of ten, they will ask me why I am cancelling. I explain that I agreed to the free trial in order to review the product, but I am a stay at home mother and with only one income, my husband and I try to keep our expenses low and not spend money on things we don't need. At this point, they will begin to tell you the benefits of their service and why it is worth the money. My response everytime? " Thank you for the information, I appreciate it, but I would still like to cancel. " Finally, after trying to sell you again on their service, they will either process your cancellation or ( and this is what usually happens ) they will offer you an incentive to stay.

For example, I was a member under trial for my credit card travel program. I called to cancel, and they asked me to stay a member. If I did, they would send me a $20 gas rebate per quarter. I said sure! The monthly membership was $5.99. They sent me my rebate forms, I immediately sent it in ( read all the terms and make sure to fill out the rebates accurately ) and got my rebate during my 2nd paid month. So, I had paid just under $12, but got paid $20 ( and service to their program ). I then called to cancel again ( if I waited for the next quarterly $20 rebate, I would be spending more in monthly membership fees ). Guess what happened? They offered me rebates for $10 to Walmart for the next 4 months if I stayed a member. Again, I said sure. So, now I was getting paid $10 a month, but paying $5.99 a month. Plus, I was able to stay a member until the next quarter and get my next $20 gas rebate.

I know this all sounds confusing, but what I am trying to get across to everyone is this.....these companies want people to stay members! And, they have many incentive programs available for the customer service reps to offer you. All you need to do is call in and be firm but friendly about wanting to cancel your service. And, if they don't offer you anything? It is no big deal, simply cancel your membership.

Here is another great example. Back in the day before high speed internet was the "craze" and dial up was still the "thing" to have at home, I was a member of AOL. I originally signed up under a 60 day trial. After my trial was over, I called to cancel. I could get cheaper service through some of the other dial up companies. You know what happened? AOL asked if I would stay a member for another 30 days and still try them out. So, I said sure. Guess how long I got free AOL internet service? 2 years!! Yes, for 2 years, I faithfully called AOL to cancel every month. And, they were always pleasant and thankful that I stayed a customer. And, do you know, the only time they were EVER rude to me??? When I called and cancelled for good ( even though it was free ) to move to DSL service. They got very short with me when I would not accept my free extra 30 days! You would have thought they would be happy to be rid of me!!

What are some of the programs I am members of right now and getting paid? I am with the credit protector with 2 seperate credit card companies. So, I am getting paid $10 in Walmart gift cards from each of these companies ( plus they both gave me $20 via a check for my 30 day trial ). I pay anywhere from $.80 to $6 a month between the 2 credit cards to have the service each month, so I am making money!

I also get $5 in gas rebates a month through the identity theft program with another one of my credit cards, plus they just extend my trial each month. So, I don't pay anything for that.

My travel program finally let me cancel without offering me an incentive after a year and a half of getting free offers. :-) So, that one is over for me right now, but I may try and sign up again soon, since I am in a new calendar year.

I do have one pointer, though, so you don't give your information out to someone trying to steal your identity. First of all, if the flyer is through your credit card company or some other reliable company, you know you are safe. But, what about when they call you on the phone? Well, first of all, they will NEVER ask for your credit card information. They will ask you to verify some information ( address, phone, etc ). But, they already have your credit card number ( since they are a part of the credit card company or a third party representing them ) and they just need to verify that you allow them to charge your card after the trial period if you don't cancel.

Also, don't EVER give out your mother's maiden name or social security number. Those are red flags! Be safe!

Finally, I wanted to shed some light onto the reasons I have heard that companies are willing to do this. As everything else I hear, I never know if it is true, since I didn't get the information first hand from the companies...but I did hear with AOL, they get a benefit to being able to say they have such and such number of customers. So, every customer counts, whether paying or not. And, they don't want to lose anyone. Whether this is true with these smaller programs, I don't know. Or, whether they are just hoping you forget to send your rebate form in or cancel and then make money...that could be it, too. But, either way...if you have a planner and a couple minutes a month to call, you will get service to some nice companies while getting paid!

Do you have some companies you have had a good experience with that gave you great benefits to? Post them here...I am always looking for other great deals!

Update 2/2/08: Click here to see my update on another $10 Walmart Gift Card I got today!


Hipster90 said...

Are there any places that do this as well? Besides credit card companies?

Carrie @ said...

There are trial offers everywhere. Click on the Trial Offers button in my left menu bar to see those that I have posted currently.

I will be bringing new ones as I find them...hopefully weekly.