When Free is Not Always Free

Every time I hear the word free in a commercial, I look for the catch.  Offering free products, services, etc. is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book.  Often times, companies try to trick consumers by luring them into the “good deal.”

It is human instinct to gravitate towards the word free.  We want to feel like we are getting a good deal.  In fact, the next time you hear a company offering something free, count the number of times the word free is actually used.  They will give you everything from free customer service to free information.  Since when did these items cost anything?  Companies don’t make money giving away products and services for free.  There is always a catch.

The hearing aid Listen Clear offers a good example of this type of smoke and mirror marketing.  The commercial pitches this small, almost invisible hearing aid.  The deal sounds even more appealing when they offer you free batteries for life.  Of course, you pay shipping and handling.

8 batteries a month costs you $6.95 in shipping and handling.   You can also purchase a 48 pack for $36.00 plus $5.95 in shipping and handling for a total of $41.95.

On amazon.com you can purchase a 60 battery pack for $12.62 plus free shipping.  Well, I guess so much for free.  To be fair, the representative of the company said it was optional.  Clearly, it is a money maker for the company giving the customer the furthest thing from a good deal.

When I come across this type of marketing, it makes me wonder. If they are willing to do that, what other ways could this company be unnecessarily charging consumers?

As a consumer, adopt the principle that there is no free lunch when it comes to buying decisions.  Don’t forget that companies don’t make money giving things away for free.

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