Free Crap

June 4th, 2010 by Potato

I love free stuff (especially food — the grad student cliche is true). It’s like cheap, only better.

However, I turn down a lot of free stuff that I know isn’t actually free: it comes with strings that you have to untangle later, especially free crap I don’t really want. The telemarketers sometimes get confused at this (or are trained to act confused when people reject their offer of free crap), why would I turn down free crap when I can call back within 30 days and wait on hold for an hour and go through 6 automated menus to cancel?

Ellen Roseman this week covers the case of Seema, another newb who fell prey to Extreme Fitness. Their business model is built on the free trial followed by lock-in concept, yet Seema jumped for it, signing up for something she had “NO intention whatsoever” of actually signing onto long term just to take advantage of a free trial. Due to a mix-up of cancellation times, she ended up calling back 4 days too late and they tried to lock her into paying for a full membership. Fortunately, Ellen Roseman rode in to the rescue and helped get her out of the contract.

The lesson? Don’t sign up for crap you have no intention of using, even if it’s (temporarily) free. That goes for gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, Rogers TV upgrades, Bell phone features, credit card insurance, music subscription services, credit reporting services, World of Warcraft accounts… need I go on?

In fact, I think at least a quarter of the consumer activism Ellen works towards could be eliminated if people just followed this one simple rule. TANSTAAFL.

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