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Here's a list of companies that offer FREE* products. Notice the asterisk(*) following the word FREE. This is the companies' way of letting you know they are full of it. That is, terms and conditions apply which most people (definitely me) consider to make the product/service not honestly free. I am sure the companies' lawyers would disagree.

Here is a company that offers many "free" products. Take a look a this slick image below (provided under "fair use" of the US Copyright laws).
Not so FREE
A nice Dell XPS 16... is it FREE?

For one thing, there appears to be a link, Click for details. But clicking it does nothing! I say that is deceptive, proabably even dishonest (at the least, unhelpful and anoying).  In large text is a description of the device you get for FREE* (Intel Core 2 Duo... 2.53GHz... 4GB... DDR RAM... 500GB Hard Drive...).  Below the image, in much smaller print, is a bunch of legal stuff. The prominent (small but bold text) says you must agree to Redemption Instructions and Gift Rules, Terms & Conditions, and Privacy Policy.  By the way, if any of those 3 links do not work, don't blame me!

Many people would not read this, but let me highlight the serious consequences of these "extras." First the Privacy Policy gives the company the right to give your address and telephone number to others for "direct mail, email, SMS text messaging, and telemarketing."
Thus by trying to redeedeem your FREE* gift, you are now subscribed to all kinds of marketing campaigns. More seriously, I think, is the part that says "Your consent will be effective regardless of weather the number you have you provided... is registered on any state of federal Do-Not-Call List..."
So these unknown 3rd parties can harass you by phone even if you are registered with the federal government as "Do not call."

Next take a look at the Redemption Instructions and Gift Rules. Among other things, you must "participate in and satisfy a total of 13 Sponsor Offers as follows:
Page 1: 2 offers
Page 2: 2 offers
Page 3: 9 offers"
Notice these "offers" are not specified! You have to enter your email address (and probably other info like address and phone#) before you get to Page 1, 2, or 3 (I can't say for sure, because I am not dumb enough to fall for their marketing scams).

More importantly, I think, is another part of Redemption Instructions and Gift Rules. It says, "...offers may require you to... purchase products of interest and/or take other actions such as applying for or obtaining a loan or extension of credit (including credit cards)..."

So, not only are you volunteering as a mass-marketing "subject" (I think "victim" might be more appropriate), you might (you can't know at first) have to buy things, or get a loan, or get a credit card!!! That DEFINATELY does NOT sound FREE to me! Of course you or this company's lawyers may disagree... isn't America great?

  Bullseye Media, Inc. / consumersavingcenter.com  
This company entices web users with a pop-up ad which deceptively appears as a legitimate Windows' Wizard (complete with Back, Next, and Cancel buttons). The ad states you have won a FREE* product (* See terms and conditions). Viewing the terms and conditions reveals an indeterminate number of conditions! Quote:
...a promotion will involve four (4), six (6) or more steps to complete
Notice they no longer claim it to be a free product but a promotion. Oddly they state six or more steps are required to be completed but only list five! Maybe this particular promotion only requires five, but the above leaves that open for speculation. Anyway, here is the five steps they do list: Registration, Offers, Surveys, Sponsered Offers, and Referral Requirement.
Registration is first since they naturally want to collect information about you -- your name, email address, mailing address (no PO Boxes!), etc.
Offers are a set of offers from a company or companies. You must view an unspecified number of them but need not act upon them.
Surveys: You must successfully complete an unspecified number of surveys from a company or companies. If these were the only three conditions, I might agree the product is free but it doesn't end here.
Sponsered Offers: This is very ill defined and I believe intentionaly so. They state:
Sponsored offers are the final step in participating in the Television promotion. You must successfully complete the following sponsored offers: two (2) offers from Silver Offers, two (2) offers from Gold Offers, and six (6) offers from Platinum Offers. Our sponsors cover the entire cost of the free gift along with the shipping & handling fees.
They never define or list the Silver Offers, Gold Offers, or Platinum Offers. What a convienient oversight!
Referral Requirement: They want you to work for them! Just provide them with 5 unique households who must join and complete the same terms and conditions. Can you say Pyramid Scheme? Good. I knew you could. Unfortunately for you, they also state:
...consumersavingcenter.com at its sole discretion and for any or no reason may refuse to accept any given registration.
I can't say that they do but they can refuse to accept one or more of your referrals thus preventinting you ("for any or no reason") from obtaining your required 5 referrals! In addition, there is a time limit of 60 days for you to make your referrals. In fact, most of the terms and conditions are about the rules for referrals.

In summary, putting me to work in Bullseye Media's pyramid scheme is definately NOT a free offer. And their failure to define Silver, Gold, and Platinum offers leads me to conclude they are full of it.

© H2Obsession, 2006, 2009