It's amazing how much stuff you can get for free in our supposedly capitalist society. Free cell phones, free chips and salsa, free condiments, even free condoms. You can get a buy-one-get-one-free deal for pretty much anything.
One sinister aspect of the American free market, though, is the free-trial offer. It usually works with a vendor taking no money up-front. Instead, they will hold your credit card information, which can then be charged at the end of the "trial period" if you haven't returned or cancelled.
This is how I wound up with a subscription to Sports Illustrated despite only being interested in ball games while under the influence.
The system preys on procrastinators, forgetful people and wimps. I fell into the last category, unable to say no to Foxy McCashier who was offering the promotion. Four weeks later, a suspicious withdrawal appeared on my credit card statement. After some thoughtful consideration, I decided to wait until after the swimsuit issue to cancel my subscription. Final score: Magazine - $20, Me - very rough, emergencies-only toilet paper. I think I lost that one.
On the national scene, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott joined up Wednesday with a superhero team of five other lawmakers from other states to fight a particularly evil "free trial" perpetrator.
Steve Warshak owns the company that markets Enzyte, an FDA-unapproved drug for "male enhancement." This in itself is odd because many males already feel that they are perfect and God's gift to women. What is there to enhance, am I right? High-fives all around.
To be fair, Warshak doesn't want customers to expect the drug to do much at all.
The company Web site warns, "Enzyte will not alter the size or shape of the penis. Also, Enzyte is not for use in treating sexual dysfunction or any medical condition. But for many men, particularly those who are experiencing a premature decline in sexual function, Enzyte just may be the answer."
I don't think there are many other things to enhance, so what exactly is a premature decline in sexual function? It could be poor communication.
The Web site also states, "[Women] may think it's due to a lack of attraction or, worse, they may want to talk about it. And we all know, all the talk in the world can't bring back firmer erections." His company allegedly bills customers for medicine beyond the free enzyte trial period without giving them prior notice.
"We believe this businessman is duping consumers on two fronts," said Abbott in a written statement Monday. "Not only is he advertising that these products cure diseases when they don't, but we also believe he has schemed to get consumers' private information for free trials of products in order to ship products later and bill them."
Free enzyte trials they certainly are: Herculean trials rife with strife and hardship. I suppose that is a bit of exaggeration, but maybe I'm just overcompensating.
Next time, just charge me for the product and I'll keep my dignity, thanks.