App developers are trying to trick you into spending hundreds of dollars on their free app. Here’s what to look for:
Remember when you actually paid to download and install an app? Games such as Angry Birds were just a few dollars and you could play some games and use some apps as much as you wanted and for as long as you wanted just from that $5.99 price.
App companies aren’t doing that much anymore. Paid subscriptions for premium features are now the norm in Apple and Google’s App Stores. Of course, some utility apps you use frequently are worth the $30 a year subscription but another type of app makes money when the person downloading it, forgets it’s even there. These apps have a name: fleeceware.
These apps are free to download but require a paid subscription. They offer free trials of course for 3 days to a week but if you’re not paying close attention, you may find yourself losing hundreds of dollars to a silly app.
Searching through Apple’s App Store I found dozens of apps with free trials. Many of them are photo filters, scanners, voice recorders, and ringtone makers. Each one using a similar business model. Offer a free trial that must be canceled before it renews, or else you’ll be charged $5.99 to $10.00 per week.
It’s easy to forget to cancel the free trial
You may think you’ll remember to delete the app in three days but many people forget or don’t realize there is fine print in the subscriptions that require you to cancel 1 day BEFORE the trial ends. If not, your credit card on file will be charged the monthly or annual price.
One such app, Call Recorder for iPhone charges $5.99 per month until you cancel. The same company offers a scanner app for free with a three-day trial and a monthly cost of $10 per month.
Apps in the Google Play Store use the same business model. One call recorder app I found charges $7.99 per month. What app could you possibly download worth $400-$560 a year?
Apple makes millions from this trick
Why doesn’t Apple and Google ban or remove apps that prey on a person’s lack of attention? Keep in mind both companies earn revenue from the sale of apps and subscriptions. In Apple’s case, app developers agree to pay Apple 30% of what it sells. Sensor Tower reports that Call Recorder for iPhone app was downloaded 100,000 times and earned $300,000 in revenue in June alone.
You can request a refund from Apple if you get tricked into subscribing but the best practice is to cancel the subscription the moment after you download it. You’ll still be able to use the app until the trial ends.