By Allen Levin

There are many companies out there that want to get you on a membership repeat billing platform and absolutely don’t care if you use their product or are even aware they are charging you. They will charge smallish amounts in the hopes you don’t notice and keep charging you until they can’t anymore. Many of these companies continue taxing people long after they are dead. Horrible business model. This is the country we live in.

In 2014 a company called “Rocket Lawyer” offered me a “free” trial to have access to their legal forms. I needed and NDA, so I signed up. You’d get a free week and if you cancel within that week they don’t charge you. I did that. I signed up, I got a form I needed, I canceled. Not bad! Only a few months later I caught them charging me the $40 per month for 4 months. $160 for a “free” form. I called in. I complained. As memory serves they did refund half of my money. Ok. $80. That still stings for one form I could have copied elsewhere, but at least it’s only $80. On my merry way. I completely forgot this happened. I forgot they had my information.

Fast forward to November of 2017. The 16th day, but who needs to get that specific? I was asked by a student for an NDA form. I thought I’d be a good coach and send them the form (why should they have to go to the trouble of searching on Google?). I did a search which lead me to “Rocket Lawyer.” I got on (thought this was a “free” experience once again). I downloaded a form and sent it to my student. Good coach!

Yesterday I was catching up on the taxes I have yet to turn in for 2017. I’m going over my credit card bills from 2017 looking for any write offs I may have missed. I see “Rocket Lawyer” for $40. I think, “That’s funny. I don’t remember spending $40 on a legal website. I have a memory of getting an NDA for a student. I guess they charged me. Shoot. Oh well. $40 donation to helping out my students. I have a look at December and my heart finds a bit of pain. They charged it again. That’s when it hit me. These MF’ers have been charging me since then, not only then. I look at my latest statement from August of this year. Yes. $40 fee from “Rocket Lawyer.” That’s 10 months! They are about to charge an 11th! So far $400 spent. I didn’t know it. I haven’t visited the site since that day. The reason I know it was the 16th of November is I went back and searched my email for Rocket Lawyer and sure enough there is a “Welcome to Rocket Lawyer” email. I missed it. It’s unopened. I open it. It tells me about the fees I’m going to be receiving if I don’t cancel within 7 days.

If I knew it was a free trial, I canceled the same day. That’s how I do it. I don’t wait. I need to stop with the free trials. I need to stop giving out my card numbers like people won’t exploit me. I need to be aware and check my credit card statements each month to see that things like this aren’t happening.

Mastering money is something all actors need to do. A part of mastering money is being aware of what you are spending. Don’t allow people access to your credit card numbers, even for these sucker-traps “free trial.” “Don’t worry! Trust us! We won’t charge you if you cancel! We won’t pretend you didn’t cancel and charge you. It’s TOTALLY free!”

I got lazy. My bills were set to auto-pay. I didn’t look at the cards. This was entirely my fault and let’s all learn a $400 lesson. These free trials are scams.

I called in to Rocket Lawyer yesterday. The voice machine I got started with “To downgrade your membership press 1”. I pressed 1. The next thing I heard, “We have your phone number stored with your account and you are no longer going to be charged. You have been downgraded to our “free” membership. You’ll get a confirmation email.” I watched my email all day and checked the spam filter. Nothing. They don’t have my number and nothing was canceled. Another attempt to continue charging me.

I’ll call in tomorrow (today is Labor Day. Happy Labor Day all! Aside: Lifebook loves to celebrate work on Labor Day by working. We’ll be in class tonight getting ahead! Come join us). I’ll be sure to get a cancelation, get a confirmation number and email while they are on the phone. I’ll request a refund or even a partial refund. I expect to be turned down, especially since they got me on this con before. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…..

Let’s relearn this lesson together. That way my $400 is worth something more than the NDA form I sent my student (which I’ll also not do again). Be wary of these free memberships. If you have to get one: Cancel, get a confirmation number and email, and watch your credit card like a hawk. You might even call your credit card company and block the company from being able to charge you.

As for my strategy going into tomorrow: 1. I’ll request a refund from the company and expect no help. 2. I’ll call my credit card company and see if there is anything they can do, at a miniumum I’ll have them block Rocket Lawyer. 3. I’ll get on no less than 3 review websites and share this information with customers smart enough to look for reviews before doing business with this company.

Some lessons must be relearned. Ouch. Some lessons can be learned form others and don’t need to be experienced personally. Please be the latter.

Onward and UP.