Porn Surfing 101 - Paysite Memberships - Trials and Terms

Many pay sites offer you a chance to sample their offerings on a trial basis. For a low fee you (usually) gain full access to the site from two days to two weeks.

Be aware that, if you sign up for a trial you must cancel during a designated period or you will be rebilled for the monthly fee upon the expiration of the trial. Even more important, note that the designated period is sometimes one to three days less than the length of the trial, so you have to cancel before the trial's expiration in order to avoid the first monthly charge.

 It's easy enough to avoid being caught by this little trick: the rebill clause in the Terms and Conditions agreement will clearly state when a rebill will be made. (Remember, when you cancel a trial you still have full access to the site until the end of the trial period.) 
 
Terms and Conditions

Always scan the "Terms and Conditions" (T&C) agreement before signing up for a site. Of course you're not going to read the entire, legalistic, boring thing, but make sure to find the clauses regarding the rebill and cancellation terms, which are usually found around the middle of the agreement. If the terms are not clearly stated, do not join the site. 

In the bad old days of the adult Internet, you really had to be wary of slippery language. Fortunately, in recent years misleading tactics around billing have become quite rare because both government regulators and credit card companies have cracked down on abusers.

Things To Look Out For

If you take a trial the monthly rebill may cost more than a regular monthly membership

When you take a trial you would expect that when it converts to a monthly membership the monthly price would be the regular 30-day price. For example, the regular monthly price for a site is $29.95; it offers a three day trial for $3.95. If you don't cancel the trial then you are billed $29.95 for the next month's access. That is usually the case, but with a few sites the $29.95 price only applies if you sign up for the monthly membership directly (rather than taking the trial.) For these sites, If you take the trial the monthly rebill could be as high as $39.95. So always check the rebill information which is either at the bottom of the join page or in the Terms and Conditions agreement so you aren't unpleasantly surprised.

Automatic trials to other sites

Sometimes on the join page there will be one or two check boxes that tell you that you'll get a "free trial" to some other site when you join the site you're actually interested in. We advise you to always indicate that you do not want this "bonus" offering. These bonus sites are usually crappy ones you would never want to be a member of and if you don't remember to cancel the trial for the bonus site you are going to get rebilled the monthly fee, which can be as high as $39.95.

Record the details

Keep a record of the details of your transaction, including: the date, username, password, subscription or transaction number (if any), and the credit card used. At the bottom of the sign-up page, you'll find the name that will appear on your credit card statement (it is rarely the actual website name).

You will always be asked for an email address when you sign up. Make sure you provide a legitimate email as you will receive a confirmation of your membership via email. 


How to Pay

The most common method of payment for pay sites is via credit card. Some surfers are still concerned about sending their credit card information over the Internet, but there are reliable safeguards that have been set up to prevent private information from being intercepted.

All Web browsers support a protocol known as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) which allows Internet communications to be transmitted in encrypted form. With SSL, the information you send can be trusted to arrive privately and unaltered to the website you specify.

How do you know when a transaction is secure? Most of the time your browser will let you know when you are linked to a secured site:
- an icon of a closed lock should show up in the address bar of your browser. 
- The URL displayed in your browser address box will start with https rather than http, the additional "s" standing for "secured."

You may have reservations about sharing your credit card information with an adult site. But virtually all adult sites use third-party billing companies to process payments. Your credit card information is transmitted directly to the billing company; the porn site owner and employees never see this information.

Online Checks

You are often given the choice of paying for a membership with an online check. There is really no reason to do this unless you don't have a credit card. If you are concerned about sending your credit card information over the Internet, you should be more concerned about sending your bank account information. If at some point you ever found that an unauthorized withdrawal was made on your checking account, recovering the money is virtually impossible, while you can always challenge a charge on your credit card.


Web 900 - Paying on Your Phone Bill
 
Another payment option is to dial a 900 number and have a one time charge put on your phone bill. The process is a bit of a pain, with PIN numbers to deal with and a slightly higher cost, but it's an option for individuals who don't have a credit card.
 


Cancelling A Membership

When you decide to cancel your subscription to a pay site you may be asked for any of: subscription number, username, password, email address or the first several digits of the credit card you signed up with (which is why you kept all that information, right?)

A link to the site's customer service page should be included in the confirmation e-mail you received when you joined. You can also find the links to cancel at:

* the Member Services or FAQ page of the site
* the Terms and Conditions document
* the form page where new members sign up

At one or more of these locations you will find a reference to canceling with a link to a cancellation form. Just as when you joined, document your cancellation request by noting the date and time. In virtually every instance you will receive an email confirmation of the cancellation immediately.

Don't Cancel by Email

Sometimes you are given the choice of canceling by sending an e-mail. Avoid this. Instead you should always try to cancel by web form instead because the transaction is automated and instantaneous. With an e-mail you never know when your request will be acted upon. 

If Cancelling Doesn't Work

The adult Internet, under increased scrutiny from federal regulators and credit card companies, has really cleaned up its act in recent years. Consequently, problems with getting a pay site subscription cancelled or getting a refund are very  rare. 

Still, there are some renegade (often foreign operated) sites out there and it is conceivable that your initial attempt to cancel a membership will fail. If you don't receive a confirmation of the cancellation, you should then e-mail the site to make sure they have processed it.

If you have cancelled a subscription and then find an unauthorized billing on your credit card statement, contact the pay site immediately and explain the situation. Most sites will issue a refund to you in order to avoid having the billing charged back to them.

Likewise, if you join a site and find that it has patently misled you as to its content or you are having unresolvable technical problems and cannot enjoy the content, contact the site and request a refund.

If a pay site refuses to refund an unauthorized billing you can call your credit card company. Both Visa and Mastercard will likely believe you, charge back the disputed amount to the pay site and debit your account accordingly.

Fighting Back
 
If you believe a website is ripping people off, you can file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Sentinel and / or the The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IFCC) which is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.

xxx