Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Price of Free Stuff


Did some groceries a while ago, and hadn't noticed that I picked up a heck of a lot of peanuts until I plopped the contents of my basket down in front of the cashier. 6 bags of peanuts? Really?

So I feigned surprise and discarded the other 2 bags. Didn't have to though, as cashiers tend to not get surprised at how eccentric people's grocery lists can be. Take the lady behind me, for instance, buying both cat, dog and bird food. Does she own a small zoo or something? Or the old guy buying several packs of condoms... wait, is that my dad?!


Got a new watch today, came by mail. Apparently, my credit cards love me so much that they decided I deserved a new watch. I didn't deserve an expensive one, though, but I'll take it just the same. I tried filling up the warranty but it expired last year. So it's a cheap, old watch, with a battery life of anywhere from 3-6 months. But then again, it's free so I can't really complain, can I? I'll just wait till it's batteries conk out and replace them. Hopefully by then the credit card company would realize their mistake and send me a new battery. (fingers crossed)

So that particular watch now adds to that long-list of freebies that I keep getting from less-than-well-meaning marketing campaigns. 2 watches, 2 dozen or so coupons for a free fast-food meal, a leather-bound notebook, an air freshener, a bag full of computer doodads, a drip coffee-maker, a gym bag, a set of coasters, a flashlight, countless pens, a buffet dinner, and free one-day trials at a gym. I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can recall for now.

Working on the premise of a world where nothing is truly free, what have I had to suffer for 'freebies'? An almost insurmountable amount of credit card debt, years of subscription to magazines I have no time to read, countless afternoons wasted listening to a presentation by some sales rep, and filling up various surveys that I really don't care for anyway.

But was it worth it? After years on reflecting on this question, my answer is: it depends. You must think I'm pretty useless (and gullible), huh? You're probably right.

Take this new subscription I'm contemplating on, for instance. It offers a 3-piece luggage set upon signing in. I like that magazine, and despite probably not having enough time to read it religiously, I will get a few moments or so of good reading done. Now, as it so happens, I've sold the luggage set in advance to an officemate for the same value as that subscription, thus, I get a free subscription for something I will read probably once a month. Not too bad, I should say. On the flipside, there's this real estate company that promises a free dinner and overnight stay in a hotel if I show up for a viewing of their project. Seems pretty neat, doesn't it? But beware, because the buffet really isn't as good as you've imagined it to be, and the overnight stay at the hotel means they'll give you the crummiest room they could find. The worst part is that you show up at their viewing, and find yourself trapped there for a whole day, just nodding your head at some numbers and words they keep showing over and over again,and you exhaust yourself trying to come up with excuses why you have to think their offer over first. I'm telling you, it's not worth the trouble.

Going back to my new watch, is it worth it? Yes, only because it came as a reward for previous purchases by my credit card.

Anyway, if any sales reps are reading this, I'll be needing a new belt (brown, preferably), a new mobile phone, a stove-top espresso machine, or a pair of running shorts. Cash is always welcome, too.

For this and his other (mis)adventures, read Hap's blog, "A lot of nothing to say."
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