Trial Hopping: How Americans avoid paying for subscription services


This Aug. 13, 2020, photo shows a logo for Netflix on a remote control in Portland, Ore. Netflix reported its worst slowdown in subscriber growth in eight years as people emerge from their pandemic cocoons. But it has an answer to that: Video games. On Tuesday, July 20, 2021 the streaming giant announced plans to begin adding video games to its existing subscription plans at no extra cost. The confirmation of the long-anticipated expansion came in conjunction with the release of its latest earnings report. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

UNITED STATES (WWTI) — A recent survey by experts at Go.Frontier revealed 84% of Americans sign up for free trials on subscription services, but some manage to make the services remain free.

Many companies offer a free trial period with the intention of getting consumers to eventually pay for the subscription service after seeing all the benefits. Some Americans are able to avoid pulling out their wallets by signing up with another email address, and then another, and another.

The process is called “trial hopping” and is used to continue enjoying the benefits of a paid subscription service without having to pay for it. It’s because of this method to save money that companies like Netflix canceled their free trial all together.

Go.Frontier surveyed 1,000 people from ages 16 to 54 and older to learn about their trial hopping habits.

Companies that do offer free trials seem to have some benefit with 45% of respondents saying they probably wouldn’t pay for a service if there wasn’t a free trial first. Only 6% of the group said they were trial hopping only because they didn’t want to pay.

The survey revealed 18% of respondents said they do not trust free trial offers because they’re scared they will get charged or that it’s a scam. The study discovered 42% of respondents are often charged for the full service once the trial expires. Out of those who participated 53% said they are more likely to sign up for a free trial if it doesn’t ask for a credit card, because they know they can’t be charged if they forget to cancel the service. 

They found that respondents making over $150,000 a year were more likely to trial hop compared to groups making less annually. However, they were also the most likely to begin paying the subscription afterward, with 40% of respondents said they sometimes end up paying for the full service if their income allows them to.

The study showed that 71% of respondents signed up for a free trial for streaming services, making this category the most popular, followed by retail at 49%, food services at 47%, and software trials at 29%. 

The survey also found that 37% of male respondents said they “constantly” make multiple emails for trial hopping as opposed to 13% of female respondents.

When we asked respondents if they felt guilty for signing up for multiple free trials on one service, 19% said yes because it feels like stealing and 22% said yes because it feels unethical. The full survey can be found on Frontier’s website.

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