Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why do companies give away free stuff?

You may be wondering why companies give stuff away for free. I wondered this myself and have even felt guilty at times getting stuff for free. Before you start on you free shopping spree, it helps to have a basic understanding of the most prevalent types of free offers out there so you know what's legitimate, what to avoid, and how this game works.

Legitimate Free Offers
  1. Free Trials: Most free product offers are provided by companies to get people interested in their products or services with the hope you’ll turn into a paying customer later.
  2. Double Offers: Double offers occur when the company who owns the product and the store selling the product offer discounts at the same time which can result in the product being so heavily discounted it’s free – or better yet, if the discounts are more than the product itself you may actually get money back!
  3. I'll Scratch Your Back If You'll Scratch Mine: There are also plenty of free with purchase and other “semi-free” offers in which you need to do something, like take a survey, to get your freebie.
  4. Extra Stock: Finally, companies may offer a product free in order to get rid of extra stock. This can be the pay dirt of free stuff as these offers often are on large, expensive items.
Non-legitimate or Grey Areas
  1. Fraudulent Coupons: Fraudulent coupons are among the most serious and should be avoided. There are con artists out there that hack coupon codes, create fake coupons and post them online. You should be wary of and avoid these types of "coupons" as the last thing you want is a free ride to jail :)
  2. Data Farms: Another thing to be wary of are some of the sketchy freebie websites which entice you to sign up for free products just to get your personal info to spam you. You can find a list of websites to avoid here.
  3. Marketing Mistakes: A common grey area is the world of marketing mistakes. This is an area which you may or may not want to avoid depending on how legitimate it seems and of course your own conscience. Since it is sometimes hard to tell if an item is heavily discounted on purpose or due to a mistake, if you think it could be valid, you may want to try to get the deal and see what happens. If it is a mistake and the company knows about it, then they will simply refuse the discount. Some online companies may even send you an email apology for their mistake with a gift card so you still may legitimately get something for free!

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