It is a fairly common thing to see the following online: free Ipod, free laptop, free digital camera, free money. What person does not like something that is free?
The dictionary says that the word ‘free’ is the following:
a. Costing nothing; gratuitous
b. Publicly supported
Many of these ‘free’ items that are offered can be seen in emails, pop ups, or banner ads on a multitude of websites. Of course, the word ‘free’ has always been an infamous buzz word in advertisements for many years, perhaps many milennia as well. When a person is approached with a product under the pretense that it is free, naturally that person would be happy to accept the item. Many of the items offered for free online are for items that are expensive luxuries.
The disturbing part of this situation is that it is a gimic. Once the person is drawn into seeking out how to receive the free item, they are asked to choose a few programs, some costing money and requiring a subscription. However, the actual item that was free says that no purchase is required to obtain it. This is disturbing in a few ways. For one, if the offers are not completed, then the person who signed up will never receive the gift. This contradicts the whole concept of the word ‘free’. It is misleading.
The other disturbing factor is that this allows those who complete the offers to become thieves. Where a person can sign up for an offer towards receiving the free product, like CDs or DVDs, those people can cancel those offers and still receive the product. The original goal of the gimic it to draw the person in by offering an item under the pretense of free and getting them to purchase subscriptions or other services to get it. In the end on both sides of the coin, the companies behind the gimic and the person seeking to get the free item are both in the wrong. The company is in the wrong for lying and misleading the public that their product was free, without having to pay or do anything. Some of those gimics even ask those who sign up to refer other people. No offense, but I am pretty sure this constitute along the lines of chain letters and pyramid schemes. That activity has been brought to court and those companies have been fined or punished accordingly. As for those who signed up and got their item, but slyly cancelled their subscriptions and sent back the offers they selected, they are stealing, just like stealing from the local store.
Instead of saying ‘free’ or even adding an asterix to explain the company’s concept of the word, they should put something like “Get Your Ipod!” or something to that sort. Of course it does not have the buzz word ‘free’, but really, it is not free and therefore should have been brought to court. It is false advertisement.
Of course, on the side of those who would defend the companies that have been supporting this behaviour, the anyone who signed up would obviously know what they were getting into when they did. But, this is not the full issue. A lot of the surfers online are between 12 to 30 years old, a younger generation. An even larger amount cannot even own a credit card, and thusly unable to sign up for the offers.
In the end it boils down to the whole concept of an item being free. If it were free, nothing would have to be done to acquire it, so why sign up in the first place. For signing up for the deals, not only do the hopeful subscribers sign up for the product, but are welcoming spam through email and even through phone telemarketing. That is a pain! So, next time when coming across such a page, just say ‘no thanks.’
Have you tried these ‘free’ opportunities? What do you think about them?