They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch and I have to say, whoever the elusive “they” are, they’re right! How often have you been roped in to something because it was free, only to find yourself trapped in a contractual bind, costing you more than you ever anticipated? Don’t be ashamed, it’s happened to all of us, just don’t do it again! Fool me once, and all of that. Here are some of the tricks they use to get you:
Seen this one? It’s an exciting television special for a limited time only in which you get to sample their entire $250 range of cosmetics all completely free! Right? Um, not exactly, Oh sure, it’s “free”, except for the $15 you pay for postage but you’ll note they take your credit card details when you place the order. That’s so they can charge you the full price at the end of the trial period, none of which is actually mentioned until you are already on the phone, placing the order. You’ll also be responsible for the cost of returning the cosmetics to them and you better make sure you pay for express post because if it ain’t back by the cut off day, you’re buying it.
Join out “Club”
This is a marketing scam that relies on bad judgement, but it works all the time! The theory goes, you sign up to their “time saving club” and they’ll replenish your supplies when you need them and send you extra bonuses. In reality, the only extra bonuses you’ll get are worth less than the money you’ll waste and the “replenishment” means an unannounced charge to your credit card each month, like it or not. These arrangements can be difficult to cancel, often with long waiting periods before cancellation is valid in order for the company to capitalise on your naivety to the maximum.
The Initial Discount
I recently bought a special offer, a box of hand selected fruit and nuts for just $1. It seemed like a reasonable deal, but here’s the catch. Once I was signed up, I was immediately scheduled to receive a box of nuts every week and the price suddenly escalated to $8 in the second week. Now, I do occasionally practise what I preach (amazing!) so I read the fine print before buying and didn’t get taken by surprise. I knew I could cancel the arrangement the second after I’d paid for my first box, but I didn’t. Why? Well, at first I wanted to actually try the product before deciding what to do. Then, after I got it, I decided it was good and I wanted to try other flavours. Then I forgot about it. Then their website was down, then I forgot about it again. In the end, I spent nearly $50 on nuts, most of which are still sitting in the cupboard because frankly, I’m sick to death of eating nuts! I was curious, I procrastinated and then I forgot and that’s exactly what the company banked on me doing.
It’s not hard to get roped in to a “freebie” trap but it can be hard to get out. The best way is to avoid them altogether. If someone’s offering you an exceptional deal, ask yourself why, read the fine print and avoid getting stuck with too many nuts.