Monday, September 26, 2005

Free? What's The Catch?

Not much comes for free in this day and age. What doesn't cost anything out of pocket may seem free, but there is usually some kind of catch. I used to work for a telemarketing company that sold home air filters that is a prime example of this. We called people up and talked up these free gifts that we would give them such as a travel grill, weekend vacations to some lame places, $200 in grocery coupons and some other things. What they had to do to get this stuff was set up an appointment to have a salesman come to their home and give them a demo for this air filter (at least an hour long, but probably more), then fill out a feedback survey. I don't know about you, but a crappy free travel grill isn't worth a couple hours of my life talking to an air filter salesman. The whole thing seemed sneaky and underhanded to me. Needless to say, I didn't come back from my lunch break on my first day.

Not every catch is that bad though. In many cases they are pretty much ignored. For instance, plenty of people tolerate gobs of adds on their hotmail page in order to have a free email account. You just have to find a limit to what you are willing giving up and deal with in order to save a buck. My limit is probably a bit higher than most people, but I'm not above making a sacrifice every once in a while to save a couple dollars.

operatorI just ran across something that I think is probably worth the trade off. 1-800-FREE-411 is a directory assistance service recently introduced by Jingle Networks which is exactly like the 411 service that your cell phone company charges outrageous amounts for. I know US Cellular charges $1.25 per call on top of your normal minutes and some other carriers charge more than that. The catch here is before you get your info they play a 10 second advertisement, usually for something related to your number request. 411 is a pretty handy service to have, but I don't think it's worth a couple dollars per use. Probably not something US Cellular wants me telling to my customers, but when am I not looking out for my fellow man.

Link To CNet Story


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