How much would you expect to pay for your credit score at www.FREEcreditscore.com ? Strangely enough it is NOT
free or it is free with very strict conditions =)
This service is by www.experian.com, one of the three credit agencies that are supposed to serve citizens and corporations. By law all these agencies are supposed to provide a free credit at least once a year.
In reality Experian is a company that needs to maximize stakeholder value and to do that they are not opposed to using questionable techniques like the one described here:
- http://wiki.darkpatterns.org/Forced_Continuity The user signs up for a free trial on a website, and in doing so they are required to enter their credit card details. When the trial comes to an end, they automatically start getting billed for the paid service. The user is not given an adequate reminder, nor are they given an easy and rapid way of cancelling the automatic renewal. If you forget to call they charge you. And they do not refund your fee even if you call them
. Someone wrote that in order to have the fee removed you need to ask to talk with a manager and threaten to write a bad review.
- http://wiki.darkpatterns.org/Roach_Motel The "Roach Motel" is a broad category of Dark Pattern that subsumes most types listed on this site. Put simply, a Roach Motel makes it very easy for a user to get into a certain situation, but then makes it hard for them to get out of it when they realize it is undesirable. In particular www.freecreditscore.com website is active 24h a day and very easy to access. To cancel you mandatory membership you need to call in business hours go through 30 minutes of waiting or more on the phone to talk with a customer representative
The service that they provide for the membership is of questionable value. Pretty much they let you see your credit score when you want and you get notified when it changes. This cost you about $180 a year! For me this is a ripoff in itself.
What can you do to protest and maybe get them to change their sneaky policies? These are my suggestions:
- Be sure that you cancel your membership. They will try to convince you that you should not. Just be firm and tell them that you want to cancel.
- Then ask for your money back. They will say no. Call the customer service (1-877-300-2506) a few times. Serving your call is a cost for them. Eventually they will prefer to refund you the money than keep talking with you. Keep calling, ask to talk with a manager, give them a piece of your mind, tell them that you are going to write a review on RipoffReport.com or another similar website. Tell the people at customer care that they should be ashamed to work for a company that tricks people in getting a supposedly free credit score and then they charge you $15. Tell them to talk with their boss and invite him/her to report to the company and change their policies.
- Write of your experience and maybe put a link to this page and post it on your blog, on Twitter or Facebook. Be sure that as many people as possible can read it, and be warned about it.
Finally I am not saying that you should click on the adwords on Google but I want to be sure that you know thatwhen you Google phases likes free credit score if you click on the ads at the top with green background about freecreditscore.com will cause Google to charge probably around a $1 to Experian because you clicked on their ads.