The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly… Or an Update on Correspondence About Free Electronics

Regular readers of this site are familiar with the free electronics offers from Gratis Internet. I’ve received several items myself, several readers have, and I’ve seen boxes arriving at my office for colleagues.

But not everyone has had a perfect experience, so I wanted to note that as well as offer advice on dealing with bumps in the road to getting these items.


Reader Gail took great umbrage at my discussing the Gratis Internet offers.


    I don’t mind that you say they are legitimate and that you have received your items. I do think it is unethical for you to avoid noting that at least one person – me – has been unsuccessful in receiving credit for completing the free ipod offer and has not been able to resolve it with the Gratis folks who sponsor the site.


    I sincerely enjoy your daily notices but am much more skeptical of your “good deals”. Which is too bad. I like to think of you as being very credible and ethical.

To which I offered this response:


    I’m sorry you’ve had such difficulty, and I’m sorry
    that you feel that diminishes my credibility.


    I can tell you that I’m not the only one that has
    received electronics. I know tons of people who have,
    both in my office and from internet bulletin boards.
    I’d say that your experience in atypical.


    I also never said that ‘nobody has had problems.’
    I’ve mentioned elsewhere that problems do occur —
    sometimes offers don’t credit. There can be lots of
    reasons for that. Anti-spyware or firewall software
    can prevent proper credit, as well as rejecting
    cookies just to offer a few examples. One friend at
    work tried an offer that never credited, and I just
    suggested she try another offer.


    So when you write, “I do think it is unethical for
    you to avoid noting that at least one person – me –
    has been unsuccessful in receiving credit for
    completing the free ipod offer…” I think you’re
    mistaken. I have noted that folks have had problems
    getting offer credits. I’ve simply advised moving on
    to another offer, and not working with customer
    service to resolve.


    Customer service at Gratis is not something that
    exists. I’ve mentioned that elsewhere, too. That’s
    part of the business model. There’s not alot of
    profit in any individual customer for them, since they
    give back most of what they receive from their
    affiliates in the form of electronics. If they spend
    any money on service (including staff time) then
    they’re losing money on you. That’s why it isn’t
    worth the hassle of going to them to get missing
    credits. It’s far easier just to complete another
    offer.


    I continually mention the offer not because of any
    personal benefit (remember I’ve already received lots
    of electronics — I’ve got referral links for other
    folks up who have asked me to put up their link, only
    because any new member might as well be referred by
    someone) but because this represents, I think, a
    really great value for folks who want to see it
    through. It can be frustrating on several levels,
    including the wait for products, but it shouldn’t cost
    any money and the payoff is pretty neat.


    Again, sorry you’ve had frustrations.

So what offers to choose? The best one was Infone, but I haven’t seen it available in awhile. I also used the AOL 30-day free trial on my first attempt. Ancestry.com is easy, too.


Reader Jay offers this tip for fulfilling the requirement to participate in an offer as part of receiving free electronics:


    I just wanted to pass along some info about the PeoplePC offer given by Gratis for their various free things. After my free iPod account was credited, I immediately called PeoplePC to cancel the new account.

    They told me if the account is never used I’d never be charged (similar to the now non-existent Infone offer – just this one takes a few days to credit). Now I take this with a grain of salt and will be calling them back in a few weeks to be sure this is true, but if so, this is the next best easiest way to free stuff.

I recently signed up for a free trial with eFax as part of getting a free Xbox. The offer credited in a day and cancelling was easy — it’s done online via live chat. I copied and pasted the chat log into Word and saved it just in case I have any problems.

Any questions or thoughts? Drop me a line.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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