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“Look ma! There is a buy 1 free 1 promo!” A teenage girl exclaimed excitedly to her mother while pointing to the display card. Two packets of Hershey’s chocolate chips for the price of one. Looked like a good deal, maybe a little too good to be true. “Calm down young lady. Check the expiration date first” the mother reminded her daughter. True enough, the expiration date was due soon, in two month’s time. “But ma, we can finish way before that!” the girl said happily. That would mean twice the chocolate content into the body within the same period of time. Would that be a good free purchase?
When we think about it, there are many things that we come across in our potential purchases, in our daily life that is said to be free. But are they truly free or if they are truly free, are they good for us? If they sound too good to be true, most times they are.
In cases when there is a buy 1, free 1 offer, in most cases, but not always, it would be because that the items are due for expiration, or another possibility is that there is too much in stock that they needed to clear or maybe the items have slight manufacturing defect or rejected items that can still be used.
I am a skeptic when it comes to free stuffs but I am also a sucker too to believe them unknowingly until it was too late. I do not deny though, there are rare genuine ones who would give out free stuffs because they want to reward their clients such as the family restaurant that we dine-in often. There are cases whereby a shop that has just opened its doors or just renovated, as part of their marketing cost, they would include free gifts to increase their market share, to entice customers to come or it could also be part of their loyalty program cost to keep old customers.
Sometimes, well, more often nowadays, we receive emails or a text message that says “Congratulations! Here is a free gift for you. Click here to claim your gift!”. Emails such as these should spell danger for all of us. It is a click bait, it is phishing and if we get too excited and click the link given, the moment we click, we would open our doors wide for thieves who are out there to take advantage of our online personal data and belongings for their personal gain. By the time we realize it, it would have been too late. In this case, free comes with a huge price.
In cases when free gifts are given with a purchase, the question I always forget to ask myself is do I need this item? Is it worth the money I spend? Many times, I was fooled by the notion of purchase above a certain amount to receive a free gift but sellers are smart. They would price their items just so that we will need to add something much more to achieve the amount.
I can’t count the number of times I went into a shop, with a mind set to just to purchase one item that I needed. Just one. But the moment I was in the shop, and when I was given the option of being eligible to get free gifts for purchases above a certain amount, I ended up buying much more than I need. When I return home with my purchases, I would realize that I did not need the additional items purchased, and I did not need the free items either. I have been fooled. Sucker.
Then there was the number of times I was enticed by lucky draws. “Lucky draw with every purchase!” or “No purchase needed, just participate in the lucky draw and pay a dollar plus shipping during checkout.” My brain would compute wrongly, thinking what a waste it would be to pay a dollar plus shipping without any purchase and I would end up buying stuffs from that shop that I didn’t need just so I could get the free gift. Sometimes, I just joined for fun thinking I wouldn't be so lucky but if I did, I would buy more just to get the lucky draw prize. Sucker.
Free shipping, free gifts with purchase, are not really free because the seller would have included the cost of them into their selling price for the items they sell. Free shipping usually comes with a minimum purchase order and if the seller marked up their price by hundred percent for each item, they can definitely afford to give a free shipping. When it comes to free gifts, do we really need another food container or another fork or spoon? Or how many face towels do we need?
If someone comes to us, offering a free gift of a packet of tissue or box of cookies, with a condition that we provide our contact details such as email or phone number, we would have just "sold" our contact details for a mere packet of tissue. The smarter ones would give a wrong number or email.
I think it is human nature to be enticed and excited by the word “free” and especially so when it is coupled with the word “gift” or "prize". But there is always a catch. Nothing is truly free. It is usually a psychology-marketing tactic used by businesses or people with a hidden cost or a hidden agenda. If there is an indication that we have won something or that we can get a free gift with a condition, we need to think twice, thrice before we do anything that would get us into trouble or trick us to spend more, and that is me telling myself time and time again :D.