TANSTAAFL

Were you offered a free iPod or other in-demand item for merely signing up for this no-obligation program?  Heinlein says, “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch,” but I decided to see how much I could find out without actually getting stung.

I did not get stung, and I will pass on for free (really!) what I learned.  If you are not in USA or Canada, you can stop here; you’re not eligible.  Be thankful.

The terms _do_ include a prohibition of spamming, and a promise that your participation will be terminated, all progress lost, and no new account permitted.  So, send any spams you find on this to trainn.com.

There are two options.  The _easy_ option would be illegal if the other option didn’t exist.  The easy option is you just con enough other people into signing up—and accept at least one of the items from option two.  You select the prize you’re after before they reveal what you have to do to get it.

I selected a 32GB iPod Touch—roughly $400 to buy new.  The option that doesn’t require offending other consumers is that you collect points until you have the amount required for your selection.  My “goal” is 925 points, so two and a quarter points is roughly equivalent to a dollar. 

You get points by signing up for various offers.  Some are free trials, some are outright purchases.  For many, you have to click into the “offer” to find out what it really is.  Some tell you a little more.  Examples:

  • 30 points for making a purchase from bagsbuy.com.  As far as I can tell, their lowest priced item is $25.45.  Multiply that by 2.25 and you might think your “free” $400 value iPod is going to cost you $800 (except for the fact that you were planning to buy a boatload of purses with Marilyn Monroe’s picture on them anyway, weren’t you?)
  • 34 points for making a $15 purchase of beauty products from Clarin.  What’s 2.25 times 15?  Hmmm, maybe it’s possible to break even?
  • 50 points for signing up for Blockbuster movies, and getting at least one movie.  9 * 2.25 is about 20, so maybe this is OK.  But don’t request a refund or they take back the points, and don’t cancel or you get kicked out of the “free” program.
  • 50 points for taking a trial of a credit monitoring program.  $7.95 for seven days.  8 * 2.25 = 18, so this one’s a bargain, right?  Well, first, they didn’t advertise a bargain, they advertised FREE iPod or whatever.  Second, they tell you you get your points in two days, then you click the button and they tell you they take them back unless you stay in the trial for five days.

If you still want to go for it, click another button.  Skip the hype about how wonderful this is, and scroll down to the fine print (not only small, but light gray on white): When the five days are up, you have only two left to cancel.  So if anything prevents you making that phone call in that two-day window—or they don’t answer, or they say you did not call—you are charged thirty dollars for a month’s service.  Hmmm, how can they charge you thirty unless you have given them the number of a credit card or bank account?  Don’t know about you, but these guys don’t inspire MY trust!

Conclusion: I could get a $400 value for “free” if I’m willing to spend 200-300 dollars AND work my butt off preventing the accidental expenditure of a couple of hundred more.  Given my A.D.D., it would likely cost me a thousand dollars in missed cancellation dates.

I’d better go with the referral option, so someone else gets screwed instead of me.  If you want to be that person, click this link.