BBB complaints spark Mastercard ‘free trial’ changes


(WOOD) — Mastercard is adding protections so consumers don’t get roped into a “free trial” that actually ends up costing them.

The Better Business Bureau sparked the change after 3,700 consumers filed complaints saying they didn’t know what they were buying and then couldn’t cancel the transactions.  

MasterCard posted the following message on its website: 

“The rule change will require merchants to gain cardholder approval at the conclusion of the trial before they start billing. To help cardholders with that decision, merchants will be required to send the cardholder – either by email or text – the transaction amount, payment date, merchant name along with explicit instructions on how to cancel a trial.

“For each payment thereafter, the merchant will have to send a receipt to the cardholder for each transaction by email or text message with clear instructions on how to cancel the service if the consumer so desires.  In addition, all charges that appear on the cardholder’s statement must now include the merchant website URL or the phone number of the store where the cardholder made the purchase.

Troy Baker with the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan says the hope is that other credit card companies will follow suit and enact similar policies. 

“When you think of a free trial, you think ‘free.’ And when somebody starts charging you hundreds of dollars at times for something that’s supposed to be free, that’s an issue,” explained Baker.  

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