I asked my best friend, Timmy, to write about his experience with one of those “get a free laptop” sites that require you to complete promotional offers from the most obscure companies on the planet. Many of you are probably weary if they will ACTUALLY send you the free gift that they boast, and it may hinder you from trying it out. After hearing about his story, I was convinced. I finally knew someone personally that had done it, and received the gift. You can definitely get screwed over if you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s why I asked him to explain the process of how he earned a $2,000 laptop for $400 bucks!
So I hear my buddy Erik is a financial professional. Ok I don’t hear it, I’ve seen it in action, and frankly… it makes me feel bad about myself. He’s good. I’ll stop.
It’s hard to write about this sort of thing without sounding like an infomercial so I’ll err on the short and sarcastic side of things to keep it real as they say. About a year ago I became desparate. I needed a new computer. I do funky music stuff with my computer. I edit video. I love macs. I was poor. You see the problem here.
I have standards
Apple computers are not cheap, but I needed one. So I do what I always do and I googled “free macbook pro.” I’m not big on recruiting friends to make me get free stuff (I have a hard enough time telling people about Jesus) so all of the sites that had any element of refer-a-friend were out. I was going to do this stuff on my own so that when I failed I could sweep it under the reputation rug. My budget was about $500 for a computer and that would get me a Dell. I didn’t need a Dell, I NEEDED an Macbook Pro. This brings me to a side note: When you’re trying to get things for cheap you need to have needs; you need to have a spending limit; and you need to have patience. I also made a pact with myself that if this failed I would never do anything like this again. Sure I would be down $500 bucks and computerless (almost) but I would be a resilient loser. Scams would never darken my tower again (says The Streets).
What I did
I finally found a site that seemed legit. I scoured the fine print and ultimately just lowered my head and started filling out the forms. The setup (and this is a dominant format for refer-a-friendless sites) was three pages of offers that the user would complete. 3 offers on the first page, 6 on the second, 9 on the third. I had to stick to the format, and I plotted out the expense of each offer on each page to get within my spending limit and fulfill the requirements. I could go into more detail but bottom line I ended up spending $400 bucks over the course of two months completing these offers and filing a tax return paper thing. The laptop came immediately after I mailed in the tax form…a week or so. Plus, I did this right at the time when Apple upgraded the Macbooks to the 2.0 ghz and the one they sent me was the upgraded version.
I called customer service during the course of my madness just for some comfort and to check on offers that hadn’t been completed, etc. It turns out that the company offices were a town south of where I was living at the time, so the proximity was a comfort, but ultimately I just stuck it out there and waited to see what happened. This brings me to what I would do differently.
What I would do differently
The internet is beautiful. It provides easy access to stuff I need to know. I enter my questions into a text box and I get exact answers. Blam. What I don’t do sometimes is follow up on the information. Sure I googled free macbook pro and I came up with a site that would satisfy, but take that to the next level and I would have found a guy who was decorating his house with “*free stuff” and posting tips on how to do it cheap.
The reason I spent $400 dollars was because I didn’t know what I was doing. There were two $5 offers that I didn’t comb through and ended up getting auto-billed for 60 on each. If you see something that says Auto-Ship you’re going to get dominated. I also could have done other offers that would have cost more out of pocket initially, but in the end would have fully refunded my money.
Josh Clark is a pro at this stuff, and I wish I found his site sooner. He’s just posted a link to a new Macbook Pro site that is 10 offers and 1 refer a friend. He hates using people too so he does this thing called a conga line. I’m not going to explain it, just give it a look. Ultimately, I should have shoveled a bit deeper down the google pile. Josh got his MBP for 90 bucks. He’s also picked up a flat screen, wii, and every other toy that will eventually burn in the apocalyptic fires for next to nothing.
If you remember something, this would be my pick
I like habits. I have many of them, and most are disgusting, but my habitual googling is a good thing. The internet teaches me things. Do you know what the difference between a State and a Commonwealth is? Erik? Do you? I also don’t like spending money on dumb things. Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but I’m pretty sure there are cost friendly solutions to many wants or needs in the annals of the internet. I need bookshelves. DIY is the way to go. I need a photoshop like program… Open Source it is. Try it out. If you have questions, ask Erik.