Web site offers free goods for trial use

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. The premise is simple: get things for free for signing up for something you might already be inclined to buy or sample -- like trying out Netflix, an online video rental company, or buying a cup of coffee from Starbucks.

The Web site, TrialPay.com, says it's a win-win situation for consumers and merchants.

Like most consumers these days, Allison Barry is looking to save a buck whenever she can. So when the West Hollywood art gallery manager recently found a Web site ad offering a free movie ticket from Fandango for buying flowers online from FTD, she signed up.

Allison ended up spending about $30 on tulips.

"It was a pretty good deal, I think, for basically doing something I would have done anyways, I got something free," said Barry.

Here's how Trialpay works: You sign up to get free things from one company or Web site, by buying or just trying out things from another.

Photo-sharing site dotPhoto.com is offering 250 free 4-by-6-inch prints for trying out one of TrialPay's merchants like Netflix, which requires you to sign up for a least one month of service for about $9. Or you can sign up for 25 free song downloads from E-Music that's good over a seven-day period.

That won't cost you anything, unless you forget to cancel your subscription, than you'll be charged about $16 a month.

Other free offers on TrialPay include a McAffee antivirus software, a $40 value; and a three-month subscription to Vault.com, a Web site that provides background information on thousands of companies. That subscription is normally $50.

Another similar Web site is Checkoutfree.com, which offers free and discounted products, much like TrialPay.

Barry says with money so tight, it makes sense to look out for deals, especially if you're buying or signing up for something that already interests you.

"I got another bouquet of flowers and because I got the flowers, I got a free gift certificate for Papa John's pizza," said Barry. "A free meal and flowers -- it's like a date."

Remember, if you sign up for a free or discounted trial on an online site, you may be asked to provide your credit card information.

And, if you don't cancel after a specified period, you'll be billed on a continuous basis, so pay attention to the trial period when signing up.

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