Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Free iPod? Guess not!

Yes....I know that when something seems too good to be true...is usually is, so maybe this was a real dumbass thing to do. But I know that some companies will affiliates to bring them customers so I thought that it is possible that might add up to iPod level. And honestly, I was curious beyond belief.

I found the link in a forum on iBankDesign while searching for an elusive HSBC sign-up bonus code (didnt find a valid one) and was led to one of those "free iPod if you go through advertising hell to get it" type offers so I decided to test it out carefully.

Basically it ended up being a deal of "complete 2 offers on this page" for a total of 3 pages. It is not always clear what "complete" means for each item and each page becomes progressively more "expensive" to complete. The offers to complete are usually trying products and services or signing up for credit cards. My plan was to try to execute the total of 6 offers for a minimum of cash (was shooting for zero honestly) and make sure to follow up and cancel anything afterward.

I can't speak for the free iPod part of the deal, but most of these offers are not outright "scams" but several are very tricksie. Most offers had a "catch"...some were more obvious than others. I ended up choosing:

2 7-day trial memberships to a discount/coupon site (dealpassX2) in exchange for a $25 Linens-n-Things gift card and a $25 Borders gift card
These were basically similar offers marketed differently for the same service (PassportToFun and SimplyYou both fronting DealPass.com). They charged me $1 each to try their service for 7 days. Since I thought I'd be getting gift cards in return, that seemed fine (*snort*). The catch is that in order to get your gift card, they mail you a form that you must return. You must still be a member when they receive the form. But it will take 4-6 *weeks* for them to even mail you the form. You don't find this out until you've joined and logged in to claim your card BTW.

You must call them on the phone within 7 days to cancel in order to avoid the membership fee. They make you wait on hold for 20-30 minutes and when you get through, you get the hardest. sell. ever. The reps are obviously scripted, and the script just includes offer after offer for every time you re-iterate you want to cancel. Some of the scripting was hilarious, but I'm getting windy as it is. They finally let you cancel and yet those $1 charges are sitting on my card glaring at me (I used an empty card I don't currently use so it will be easy to monitor) and I am thinking of disputing those charges.

For someone who buys a lot of this stuff (movie tickets, chain restaurants etc) there may be a bargain in those sites somewhere but for me it was definitely NOT a match. And even if it was, the hard sell was a dealbreaker for all time. Since I had two of these...I had to go through the SAME PITCH twice. Down to the gas card offer and ending with the Walmart gift card. No No No and No thank you.

2 Free Ticket Vouchers to Universal Studios
We're going to Orlando in November so I thought this was worth a shot. But it turns out it's one of those "sit through our timeshare salespitch FIRST and then you can have the tickets". I've read that those things are actually legit, but terribly boring...not gonna follow through.

South Beach Diet Online
I started SoBe in mid July and in general I like the way it feels more like healthy eating suggestions and not a "diet". They are very upfront about how it costs $5 a week (which is way to pricey IMO), you are initially charged $65, and of that...$20 is non-refundable (but you have access to the site for those non-refundable weeks if you cancel). I had no problem cancelling, no hard sell, nice guy on the phone and the credit hit my account the next day. I'm out $20 but I do get to poke around the site while that runs out. I'm snagging recipes....

AOL "music" something or other
I thought it was some sub-service of AOL for music....but it was just a disguised "try AOL for 30 days" offer. I still have to cancel this one...I couldn't get into my account after trying for 20 minutes on their site. Nice.

Discover Card
Shiny Orange Plastic! I really didn't want another credit card and there are probably better offers out there but I'm hoping to try arbitage and if not... I am hoping I can get 2% cash back on the purchases that only get me 1% on the Citi Dividend. I followed through with this, and at some point it was stated I had to use the card once to "complete the offer" ... and when I called up the rep said I get a $10 credit to my cash rewards if I use the card soon...so I was going to buy a 99c iTunes song. We'll see.

So I don't think I'm getting an iPod ;) but I have satisfied my curiosity as to how these things work. So far it only cost me $22 (and I'm going to attempt to lop $2 off that) which was definitely not ideal, but I could have done far worse.

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