Google committed a shocking act of decency

This sort of attitude toward customers is so rare and so ridiculously, absurdly welcome.

We've become very accepting people.

We accept that when any company sends us its terms and conditions, we'll agree to them without bothering to think or read.

We accept that airlines will toy with our feelings as they stack up mysterious fees, just when we thought we'd gotten a good deal to fly to Wisconsin.

And we accept that when we agree to a free trial of anything, we'll never remember when that free trial is up.

I was therefore rendered insensate by a peculiar act of what I can only call "decency," perpetrated by Google.

A tweet, offered by my former CNET colleague Stephen Shankland, revealed that Google's Nest had contacted him with a helpful message.

"Only 5 days left in your free trial," read the headline. This was followed by: "Your free trial of Nest Aware is about to expire. Monthly subscriptions start at $6."

Personally, I'd rather walk to Los Angeles to buy a pint of milk than have one of Google's -- or anyone else's -- snoopy cameras anywhere near my house.

But I'm moved, as Stephen was, that here was a company that didn't just lick its lips when your free trial expired and start charging you a new monthly fee.

Which you may not discover until the next time you see your credit card statement.

I hadn't considered Google to be an especially decent company. It's a tech company, after all, and one that pretended for so long that it wasn't a mere advertising company.

It enjoys following humans around so that it can make money. Its CEO even blithely looked Congress in the dulled eyes and insisted Google's mission is "to protect your privacy."

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Yet the fact that it bothers to do this small and human thing makes me wonder why other companies aren't forced to do the same.

Companies surely know that at least some of these free trialists will feel cheated. They surely know that a message, such as Nest Aware's, shows not only good customer intentions, but confidence in your own product.

Is it really worth pinching, say, six bucks from a customer only to see them angrily cancel the paid subscription they never really agreed to after a month?

For too many companies, the answer seems to be yes. They'll take the money and keep on teasing.

I can't think of a single occasion when I've signed up for a free trial and been warned when it was about to expire. Indeed, I know that if I ever do succumb to a free trial, it's very likely I'll forget and be annoyed when a charge occurs.

Unless, for some blissful reason, I actually think the product is worth it.

All hail Google, then, for this touching act.

Now, about Chrome's deficiencies and Google's mediocre phone marketing.