It happens to many of us that we sign up for a gym, an online movie or magazine service that allows us to try them for free for 30 days, and when this period ends they start charging us a monthly fee, because we forget to cancel it when it ends the trial period
To avoid paying uselessly for something we don't use, a young Briton created a service that cancels these subscriptions automatically at the end of the 30 day trial.
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The app developed by Josh Browder – who as a teenager created an algorithm called Do Not Pay – was launched in the United States in principle.
The new app, Free Trial Surfing, is not linked to a customer’s credit card or bank account.
Browder says it was developed in conjunction with a major bank, but does not want to reveal the name of the financial institution that supported his project.
Pornography and Netflix
"The idea for this product came to me when I realized that I was being charged $ 21.99 for a gym membership for a year that I never used," Browder told the BBC World.
“In fact, I had completely forgotten that I had subscribed to a free trial. Keeping track of when a free period ends is annoying and takes time. ”
Since it was launched six weeks ago, says Browder, 10,000 people The app has been downloaded.
The two most common subscriptions for which it has been used so far, he adds, are Pornography and Netflix.
How does it work?
Each customer receives a number of virtual credit card and an invented name, which you can use to subscribe to a service.
The card is, in fact, registered with the Browder company, Do Not Pay.
The app can also exchange emails between the service provider and the card, which protects the customer's email address.
Browder says the card does not work to pay for any other type of purchase or service.
As he explains, some platforms have tried to block the service, identifying which cards belong to Do Not Pay.
But they have not succeeded because they are too many, he says. The irony is that, one day, Browder may charge a subscription to your service, which is currently free. "It took me six months to develop," he says.
"Right now we are testing it, but maybe one day there will be a cheap subscription, like $ 2 per month."
Currently, the app is only available in the Apple online store, but Browder is developing a web version.
The "trap" of subscriptions
Felicity Hannah, a finance journalist, is cautious when evaluating the app.
“Sounds like a great idea because consumers constantly fall into the trap of subscriptions, ”he says.
"I consider myself quite shaky and last year I fell twice," he acknowledges.
"But I have certain concerns as a consumer and I would like to see other people using it safely before I subscribe."
Hannah also believes that the service may last shortly, if it really bothers retailers and service providers.
“Consumers shouldn't worry much about ethical issues, but (the app) is violating the concept of free trial"He points out.
“You have to re-register if you want to continue with the service. That means that the app assumes that, clearly, you don't want to do it. ”
“If it succeeds, I imagine it won't be long until the companies look for you back".
But it is definitely a good idea, he concludes, one that can "really empower consumers."