Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Free Cost More Than You Realize

The Dangers of Surveys, Freebies, and Coupons Printers

Doesn’t the idea of something free or at least half off sound appealing? I thought so I was anxious to download the coupon printer. What I was unaware I loaded malware to my computer so deadly that it took down my computer. Think about this, I can load coupons directly onto to my loyalty card at grocery and store sites without a coupon printer. Instant deals arrive as phone texts. Emails appear regularly from stores for time-limited discounts. Then there is the old school method of coupons in the paper, magazines and direct mail. Pour through your magazines because they can have some major coupons. With that in mind, why would you need to install a device called a coupon printer? You don’t. Its only purpose is to track where you go, often diverting you to their sites, and at times crashing your computer with its associated viruses.

Freebies sound like a no brainer. Remember that there is no free lunch. My FB friend sent me sample link to get all these free items, and they immediately want my credit card number. Suddenly it doesn’t feel so free. They promise to send me a sample if I pay the inflated postage. Why do I want to spend four dollars in postage to get an item worth less than a quarter? The item is one I could have received free or did receive free via store promotions or direct mail. Personally, it is never a good idea to give out your credit card numbers to these firms. You will soon find yourself getting all sorts of items you cannot use, and charged handling expenses.

The survey come-on that promises you will make all sorts of money is tempting. You may have checked something when you were trying to register for the free laptop or restaurant dinner you supposedly won.  I did this. The first survey promised I would get twenty dollars by signing up for a Discover card. Well, I didn’t need a credit hit on my rating, so I declined. The money didn’t come from the survey company, but from Discover after I charged so many items. That was their best offer. I often find myself doing long complicated surveys that take over an hour only for points in my credit bank. What can I do with the points in my bank? Almost nothing, if I gather enough of them I might get six months of a magazine I don’t want.

I am offered the same magazines free, after completing an order with H.H. Gregg or Vista Print. Makes you realize the survey companies do not value your time or at least the online ones don’t. I have participated in physical surveys where I tasted something, made a dish, or use a particular detergent and was paid cash. I found out about these by reading a small ad in the classifieds. All three of my children took part in a chewing gum test where they were paid twenty-five dollars each. Some surveys are real. You can look them up on the Better Business Bureau website to check.

Then there are the home surveys you have to bid on. You register using your credit card to be able to bid on certain surveys. This is a great way for them to make money, not you. I almost fell for this one too. The reason I didn’t I Googled it for complaints, and there were thousands. If something sounds too good to be true, then, research it.

Every now and then, something good happens. I walked into the grocery one day and they were having a grocery derby. The object was you race around the store throwing items in your cart equivalent to $200 in less than 10 minutes. The person closest to $200 without going over won the grand prize, it wasn’t me. I did get $100 for competing though. I probably wouldn’t have if my children hadn’t urged me on. The good thing about the derby was there was no entry fee, no handing over my credit card number, and no long-term interaction. For less than ten minutes, I had to bear public scrutiny while my children cheered.   I would do it again in a heartbeat.
You can get legitimate freebies. You do it all the time. An example is a sandwich or coffee card that once it is filled up you are entitled to a free one. I develop all my film at Walgreens, which leads to me occasionally getting discounts and free photos.  This perk keeps me loyal to Walgreens. While I am at Walgreens picking up my free photo, I might purchase something else. If I am on Amazon and I spend $25, then I can get free shipping. Of course, that means I bump up my order to get the free shipping. If you understand how the freebie system works, you realize no one gives anything away free.

Before you decide to do the survey, sign up for the freebie delivery, or install the coupon printer, think about what they get out of it, as opposed to you. Could be they are getting a much better deal than you are.

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