The trouble now-a-days is that anything offered free gets tons of abuse. If someone tells me that something is free and the sends me a bill for $400.00 for a 5 year contract, then it is not free. If they request a "very reasonable" amount for "free" services, I cannot complain.
I had already encountered the same thing when signing up for a Freeshell
shell account. Although it really is "free", they make you send a dollar within 30 days to keep your account active. I was so impressed that I sent 10 or 20.
The thing is that they get people signing up with bogus accounts to harrass others. I can see that the small fee can help keep this in check.
I think there are other really free services, but their newsfeeds may not be as good.