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Free Classifieds

Free Classifieds Free Stuff Newsletter
Weekly articles bringing you free stuff resources

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Vol. 1 issue #1 Feb 28, 2002


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"Free" Thinking
© Copyright, Doug Appleby 2002



There is perhaps no greater disappointment than finding that "free" on the Internet has little relationship to any definition that in the purest sense means "without cost." This does not mean however, that "free" offers are necessarily without benefit and should be treated with suspicion or routinely ignored. There are many free resources, products and services that offer considerable value - just as there are many that should be treated with caution. 

The question is, how do you decide?

It is worthwhile going back to the varied origins and permutations of "free offers" - looking beyond mere promotional devices used to attract attention; and trying to gain some understandings about how such offers work; where there is value, and some indicators that suggest a second thought, or outright rejection.

The First point to keep in mind is that what we are primarily considering here are Commercial objectives, and free does not produce profit or pay for the upkeep of website businesses.

It follows then that you WILL become a target for the products or services that the offer you take up is leading you towards, for this is where the profits are generated to sustain the website business. This is the first step in the 
highly competitive process of Customer Acquisition, and how well the website does it's work (along with quality/price of product or services) will determine the conversion rate of visits or completed specified actions, to sales.

This is a good time to pause and assess some of the “Go/No Go” elements:

* How transparent is the transaction? How well is it explained?
* Do you really need it?
* Is the vendor credible/reputable - Privacy Statement, Returns Policy, Physical address and identifiable contact people with real telephone numbers (Hotmail or Yahoo etc email addresses - no thanks!)
* Does it involve a compulsory "opt-in" to a mailing list - if so, is there an unsubscribe statement and an assurance that your mail address will not be sold to 3rd parties?
* How much personal information do you need to provide? 

If beyond your comfort level, click out!

(Many, if not the majority, of links that you follow to look at a free offer will be an Affiliate link. Affiliates derive their income from directing visitors to websites making an offer. Payment to the Affiliate is usually on a pay-for-performance basis, generally either by CPC (cost-per-click) - paid an agreed amount 
per clickthrough, or by CPA (cost-per-action) through which payment is based solely on qualifying actions such as sales or registrations. This (Affiliate) mechanism is perhaps the major source of online Customer Acquisition.)

The Second point you must examine deals with Expectations:

· What is it that you want – What are YOUR Expectations?
· Can the offer or program meet your expectations?

Let us look at an example – you see the following ad:

“Get 12 CDs for the price of 1, nothing more to buy, ever! 
Simply join BMG Music Service and you can choose your FREE CDs 
from over 12,000 titles. This incredible deal is as simple as it sounds. 
No tricks, no gimmicks, no kidding. It's 100% RISK FREE!”
Click Here. 

So CD’s are the thing for you, me too
I’ll have a look at the offer by going through their sign-up process (possibly not all of the way!) and note how I see the “Go/No Go” factors:

· Solid looking site, good navigation and comfortable Membership Terms with plenty of opt-out, cancellation and return undertakings. Privacy okay but they will pass on Postal and Email lists to other marketers- but again you can opt-out.
· Hang on! The ad says 12 CD,s for the price of 1 – Ah! But not straight away, you choose 7, then buy 1 to get to select the last 4 freebies.
· You get 14 emails a year with a featured offer based on your preferences. Do nothing, and it’s in the mail. But you can send it back (at BMG cost)
· Your 1 CD purchased can be billed, or paid by credit card on secure server
· Simple and not too intrusive signup form. You can change your Member preferences
· Shipping and Handling added to each item but no cost indications.
· No information about destinations shipped to
· A good selection of titles and Member prices look reasonable
· 10 Day Trial and Return for all CD,s
· No readily identifiable company details – but you can always do a “Whois” lookup on the Domain.

And the result…..

1540 Broadway
New York, NY 10036


Administrative Contact, Billing Contact:
Cohen, Susan (SC4670) scohen@BMGDIRECT.COM
BMG Direct
1540 Broadway, 25th Floor
New York, NY 10036
2129304235 (FAX) 2129303918
Technical Contact:
NIC Administrative Alias (NAA2-ORG) nic-admin@QUADRIX.COM
Quadrix Solutions, Inc.
255 Old New Brunswick Rd. Suite S-220
Piscataway, NJ 08854-3739
Fax- 732-235-2336

Record last updated on 18-Jan-2001.
Record expires on 20-Dec-2002.
Record created on 19-Dec-1995.
Database last updated on 27-Feb-2002 15:48:00 EST.

Domain servers in listed order:


So, where did I get to with this?
· I will become a member – subject to the S&H cost to New Zealand, if serviced.
· Make certain I change my Member preferences to opt-out of 3rd Party emails. 
· Be sure not to use a junkmail address, read my 14 emails and decide if I want more CD’s arriving at my door.
· Probably cancel my membership after completing the terms of the offer and getting 12 CD’s for the price of 1!

I rate this a 7 Star Free Offer (maximum 9 stars)
Major points lost for: Lack of Corporate Information and Physical contact detail.

Your choice may be different, Click here to see if it is right for you

(ps I get a CPC of 10c if you follow the above link)

In subsequent articles I will examine freebies like coupons, downloads (and the consequent risks of Spyware) 
along with resources for Webmasters and Newcomers alike. From time to time I may even be able to point you 
to other resources and offers that check out as the real thing - free with no strings (or fewer than usual) attached! 
If you know of any real bargains- let me know! 

Doug Appleby is a "netaholic" involved with the development of, a searchable Directory of Free Internet Resources, 
and the Publisher of the weekly Freebonanza Newsletter - which you can subscribe (free!) to


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