Nowadays, you can get almost anything for free. You can find free grocery cards, free heating, free diapers. In some cases, you can even get your gas bills paid for a year, or even your heating bills paid on your behalf. Someone is paying for them, but why would they do it?
In some cases, it could be to promote their products. The company wants to increase the sales its product. They are so sure you would love their product if only you would try it. Free samples are given out, hoping you would love the product so much, you would buy it the next time around. That is how Estee Lauder promoted her business decades ago. She would give free samples of her products. A practice unheard of then. The women who tried her creams found they really work and then became her regular customers.
In the same way, free 1 year gym memberships might be given out, hoping that you like the facilities so much, you sign up as a paid member when your free year is out. Free magazines might be given hoping you like the magazine so much, you subscribe to it. My son came home with a free magazine he won in a contest. We are considering subscribing to that magazine as it is rather educational.
Not all free gifts are so good. Some come with a hidden cost. Especially some of the free software or screen savers you might download into your PC.
Nothing is truly free. Think about it. How would the makers of this software cover its cost? Such free software is often bundled up with adware. The ads pay for the software. Download the software and you see ads popping up on your PC, in some cases, slowing the PC to a halt. These are the ones I am wary of. Basically, before downloading anything into your software read that entire terms and conditions carefully to see if they are going to put anything else into your PC.
The other type of free software would be the free trials of software you would have to pay for if you want to use beyond the trial period. These are usually good programs that after using beyond the trial period, chances are, you would want to continue using them so you pay for the cost of that software.
Then there are the unscrupulous companies where the representatives lure you into their office with the intention of pressurizing you into buying something really expensive which you don’t really want in the first place. It happened to me before with a time share company that kept me in there for hours, with the representative trying hard sell tactics to pressure us to buy from them. I have since read complaints about similar companies in the newspapers. In such cases, forget about the gift and walk away.
Then there are the promotional free gifts used to bring publicity to the sponsoring company. The goodwill the free gifts bring is, to the company, worth the cost of the gifts themselves. These could be small items as door gifts at a party or they could be huge prizes like a mustang car given to winners of a lucky draw.
Have you ever answered a few survey questions in a mall and been given a pen or other gift as a token of appreciation? I love that sort of free gift. Sometimes, the gifts can be really generous.
Market research is important to a company. For a company to succeed, it needs to know what the consumers really want. For that reason, some companies are willing to give generous gifts in exchange for your filling in some survey forms. These free gifts are often given in exchange for your survey answers or your feedback. A sweet deal to the consumer if you ask me. The catch here is that in many cases the companies may need only a certain number of respondents. Once the quota is met, the party is over. The early bird catches the worm, or gets the gift in this case.
By answering surveys, you can get free gas, free groceries, free perfume, free dinners, free designer handbags, gift cards to buy whatever you want. Who knows how long this would last, but while companies are willing to shower consumers with all these goodies for free, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts. Even then, freebies should not replace your regular job or source of income. It is just the icing of the cake, but boy, is it sweet.
The writer is the webmaster of