The Real Price of Free Products

This is a little pet peeve of mine among people who can’t resist every sale that they encounter. They’ll see a sign that says they get a “free gift” with purchase and they jump all over this “fantastic” promotion. After all, it is a “free” gift, right?

No, not at all.

It’s not free. You’re paying for it.

How do you go about getting that free gift with purchase? It’s the “with purchase” part of that statement that should catch your eye and not the “free gift” part. In effect, you are getting a slight discount on your primary purchase and then you are “buying” the free gift. Similar kinds of sales tactics are abound just about everywhere.

Need a new cell phone? Get a shiny new BlackBerry for free… when you sign a three-year contract. What have you done there? You got a free phone, but you signed away the next three years of your cellular existence. Just as a business lunch that you write off isn’t free, neither is that cell phone.

What about buy one get one free? The second item is free, right? No, not at all. In effect, you are getting 50% off the regular price, but you are forced to buy (at least) two products at a time. It’s not free; it may be discounted, but it’s not free. And even then, it’s not unfathomable for these stores to mark up their prices before offering the BOGO sale.

Even when it comes to free birthday food, it’s not always free either. With some of those promotions, you have to come with a friend who purchases a meal at full price. With others, both of you have to purchase a drink. Whatever the case, there’s usually a “catch” of some kind, official or implied.

Before you go running toward the “free” sign, consider what is the true price of your purchase. Resist the urge to buy something just because it’s cheap. Ask yourself whether you actually want and/or need that product and if it is really a suitable price for it. With that in mind, go enjoy your shopping this weekend. 🙂