Free Stuff … gotta love it!
Well, I think I mentioned a few months back that I was trying for some free stuff through the online offers. If you remember from last spring, I tried getting an Xbox 360 from these offers. Jump over here or here to refresh your memory.
Anyway, I set out to get a 42″ Samsung Plasma TV. And I succeeded…sort of. I got together with a bunch of people from JoshClark.com in a “conga” to get a TV. Deal was, we each had to do 12 offers and refer 1 person that did the same. That’s where the “conga” comes in. It was a line that we all paid 10 bucks to get into. That way, when someone signs up, they pass their referral link to the person below them in line, and they pass it to the next person, and so on. This way everyone has a referral. The last person in line will be the only one that doesn’t get a referral, so they get the money that everyone paid to be part of the conga. Pretty good deal. Well, after about 2 months of going back and forth with a company that started out legit and quickly went to not recommended, I got my gift. Not exactly a Plasma TV, but a check for $900. The company that stuck it to us was a company called I-Deal. In the end, they just couldn’t handle all of the people fulfilling their part of the deal, so they (the company) tried to get out as easy as possible. So, now instead of getting a TV, which would encourage me to sit on my butt, I am going to buy a road bike that will enable me to do triathlons again. So, in the end, it worked out pretty good. Although if they were going to send me a check, I wish they would have sent me a check for the amount that they said the TV was worth ($1500). That would have gotten me a bike and a TV.
But, there’s more. Just when you thought it could get any better. About a month into the Plasma TV offer, they started another conga for a MacBook Pro. This gift required us to do 10 offers and 1 referral. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it. Afterall, the TV was 12 offers and this one is 10. Plus the monetary value of a MBP is about $2000. Plus, I-Deal was doing this offer as well. It was still a reputable company in our mind (we just didn’t know yet, because a few people had already received actual TVs from them). We jumped on it quick. Around that time, some website ran an article about getting free stuff online. They even linked Josh’s site in the article. Well, the board was overrun with people wanting to get their MBP. The conga grew to a few hundred people and we eventually had to split it up into 5 different congas due to size. Fast forward a couple of weeks. I-Deal’s sites are being overrun by people actually fulfilling their obligation.
Let me take a moment to describe how these companies make money. They have you sign up for trial offers to various websites and products. These trials could be free or inexpensive. For every person that signs up through I-Deal’s sites, I-Deal gets a cut. A lot of these offers are legit sites like Netflix, Blockbuster, BMG, Columbia House DVD, and Scholastic Book Clubs. The goal I-Deal and the offer companies is to entice the user with a big ticket gift. But to qualify, you have to jump through some hoops. This alliance wants you to forget that you signed up for the trial so that they can slap you with a monthly membership fee. These fees range from $20 a month to $80 a shipment (depending what you signed up for). So, you can see where the money is to be made. If you aren’t organized, you can loose a lot of money and never get your gift. Back to our story in progress.
Well, I-Deal is being hit by a lot of organized people. They never expected this many people to fulfill their end of the bargain. So, their site (where you check the status of your account) starts having glitches. Suddenly, offers that were approved are showing pending again. Luckily, there was a huge support group in the conga. We found out that a certain level of offers (you have to do 3 levels) was showing pending for everyone. I-Deal’s response was that it was just a glitch and would be fixed soon (it took over a month for them to fix it). I can’t say for sure, but the way it looked was that I-Deal was trying to scare people into thinking that they needed to do more offers for that level. And I’m sure a lot of people did. This was just one of the many ways that I-Deal tried to scare people into quitting. And it worked for a lot of people. But those of us who hung in there got our gifts… which were nothing close to a MBP. Instead of forking up the money to those of us who jumped through every hoop for the MBP, they shafted us. We all got checks for $600, the value of an HP Laptop. Granted, that was $600 I didn’t have, but we all fulfilled our end of the bargain for the gift that we applied for. I-Deal’s response was a quote from their Terms of Service:
“WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SUBSTITUTE THE Laptop WITH A GIFT OF EQUAL OR LESSER VALUE DUE TO INTERNAL INVENTORY STOCK. THIS SUBSTITUTION MAY INCLUDE MONETARY COMPENSATION EQUAL TO THE VALUE OF THE ACTUAL Laptop. THE DETERMINATION OF THE ACTUAL VALUE OF THE GIFT ITEM WILL BE AT THE SOLE DISCRETION OF MYGIVEAWAYCENTRAL.COM. DECISIONS BY MYGIVEAWAYCENTRAL.COM REGARDING THE VALUE OF THE GIFT AND/OR SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE GIFTS ARE FINAL.”
So, there was nothing we could do about it but go and cash our checks before they all bounced. The MBP was going to be a gift for Amy, so I just gave her the check and said, “Merry Christmas.”
All in all, I spent the following on the offers:
Plasma TV – Spent $43, got back approx. $60 in gifts/merchandise and the $900 check.
MacBook Pro – Spent $65, got back approx. $50 in gifts/merchandise and the $600 check.
So, it turned out pretty good. I did learn a lot about internet offers this time around and who to use and not use. If you are at all interested in doing any of the sites, let me know and I give you some more info or just go over to JoshClark.com. Just do me a favor, if you do a referral site, sign up through me. Have fun!