Monday, April 9, 2012

Just When You Thought "Free" Meant Free

Most consumers hope to get something without paying for it. Unsurprisingly, advertisers capitalize on this through creating advertising campaigns that offer 'free' products. You must not be lured, however, into these campaigns because you might end up paying for a product at higher than its original price.
Here are some of the 'free' advertising campaigns that marketers make use of.
The first is a 'free trial'. 'Free trial' offers work by letting a consumer try the product for a few days. If the consumer is not impressed with the product's performance then she or he can send it back. In most cases, the problem with a 'free trial' is that the consumer has to shoulder the shipping cost, which is non-refundable, even if the consumer sends back the item. Yet another problem with 'free trials' is that these are usually offered for bulky products like fitness equipment. With this, the shipping cost is almost always paid by the consumer immediately. If you are not happy with the product and you want to ship it back to the manufacturer before the trial period ends, you still have to pay for the shipment yourself. Shipping items back and forth is not only consumes your precious time but also your hard-earned money for nothing.
The second is 'risk free'. The term 'risk free' is very popular nowadays. However, not all consumers understand what 'risk free' means. In buying a 'risk free' product, the consumer will be charged for both the cost of the product and the shipment. Since it is 'risk free', the consumer may return the product if s/he is not satisfied with it. The consumer has to ship back the item within the risk free period to be entitled for a refund. Evidently, 'risk free' works like the 'money back guarantee' concept but advertisers prefer the use of the former because consumers are lured by the word 'free' more.
The third is 'buy 1, get 1 free'. You often hear the phrase 'buy 1, get 1 free' on 'as seen on TV' offers. What consumers don't often know is that the 'free' items often incur shipping and handling fees. This means that the consumers will have to pay for two separate shipping charges, despite the items arriving in the same box.
The fourth is getting 'free' items when the consumer buys something else. Commonly, when you buy a product, there will be a free item that is available upon purchasing it. Nowadays, however, advertisers are emphasizing up the 'free' items more often. Notice in some advertisements that the free items are more prominent than the product that you have to buy to get the free items.
The fifth is 'free' products with auto-ship. Some advertisers promote a specific product as 'free' which, when you ordered item, you will be automatically enrolled in a program which ships products on a regular basis. What you didn't know is that you are actually paying for these products through your credit card. What's worse, the prices of the products shipped to you are usually higher than when you buy the product at the local store. This advertising gimmick is more common with health and wellness supplement products.

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