Sorry, MasterCard's free trial protection only applies to physical goods

It clarified the policy in its misleading blog post about the feature.

Yesterday, MasterCard announced a new feature that would protect its customers from the automatic billing that kicks in after a free trial. The policy will require merchants to notify users about the end of the free trial, the cost of continuing with a subscription and how to cancel the subscription. And it seems like a pretty good feature, especially if you tend to forget to end subscriptions after free trials. But MasterCard has now updated its blog post about the new policy and it looks like it will only apply to physical products, not digital services.

As noted by The Verge, MasterCard has added a few phrases to its original post that denote the stipulations. "No one wants to be unsatisfied with a physical product after paying for it," says MasterCard's blog post. "For some consumers, a free-trial is a great way to test out a new product and get comfortable with it before making a purchasing decision. And with so many merchants offering free trials for physical products, they're becoming the new norm." The bold phrases are the new wording MasterCard has since added to the original post.

When you think of free trials, digital subscriptions might be the first to come to mind. Many companies like Netflix, music streaming services and other entertainment-related outlets offer consumers free trials ahead of a monthly commitment. And while there are physical products out there that can be subscribed to -- such as skincare products, razors and regular vitamin deliveries, to name a few -- those might be less likely to immediately come to mind than say, Netflix or Spotify. Further, when physical products are concerned, the products themselves serve as a reminder about the subscription whereas digital services can more easily be forgotten or overlooked. Therefore, it seems that MasterCard's original announcement was a bit disingenuous, if not outright deceptive.

A MasterCard spokesperson told The Verge that physical products are what have drawn the most complaints from its customers. The company plans to add a footnote to its blog post clarifying its changes and what the feature really entails, according to The Verge. But as of writing, no such footnote had been added.