New bill wants to make it easier to cancel your subscription once the free trial is up

A bipartisan group of senators is pushing for consumer transparency.

Angelique Chatman CNET Editorial Intern
Angelique interned with CNET's News team.
Angelique Chatman

It could be harder for services with free or reduced-price trial periods to start charging you automatically.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wants to make sure that the trial period you enjoy for a subscription doesn't turn into a surprise bill later. Senators on Wednesday proposed new legislation that aims to give consumers a more user-friendly trial period and ensure they're notified before payments kick in.

If passed, the Unsubscribe Act would require companies to make trial terms and conditions more transparent as users sign up for new subscriptions, according to a release from Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii.

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"Free trials should benefit consumers, not trick them into endless payments for a product they don't want," said Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, who's also supporting the Unsubscribe Act. "This bill would give customers who enter subscription trials a clear, easy way to cancel those subscriptions."

The proposed legislation would also let customers unsubscribe in the same way they previously subscribed, according to the release. For example, if a customer enrolled for the subscription via email, they'd be able to unsubscribe the same way. 

Subscription services are now so widespread they cover everything from TV streaming to clothes, food and fitness, with many including a free seven-day or 30-day trial period.