Free iPad, iPod, iPhone, Macbook offers. Are they legit?

You’ve seen them everywhere–Google, Facebook, MySpace, etc.!! They are those little annoying ads that show up telling you that you can get an iPad, an iPod, a Macbook or some other expensive gadget for FREE.

Naturally, you click through only to feel duped because now there’s all sorts of ‘offers’ you have to complete. In my opinion, you shouldn’t feel duped–you should probably feel a little naive for thinking that you were really going to get a $200-2000 item for doing nothing. After reading a blog post on, I was amazed to see how many people think these offers are outright scams.

Are they scams?

Ok, so you clicked an ad and now you want to know if you’re about to be scammed, right? Perfect, I’m here to set the record straight for anyone who’s still cloudy on this topic.

Before I get into the specifics, let’s define a couple of related terms:

  • scam (noun) – a device (website, contract, etc) used to cheat or defraud
  • scam (verb) – to cheat or defraud
  • scammed (past tense) – having been defrauded or cheated
  • mislead – to lead astray, deceive or guide wrongly

Now that we know what the difference between a scam (or to be scammed) and something that’s misleading, we can continue.

The reason I put misleading in there is because once I prove to you that these offers are not scams, the next thing you’re going to say is that they are misleading and if that’s what you believe, then ok. I, on the other hand do not feel that these ads are scams or are misleading and here’s why.

To me, an ad that is misleading would be this:

Sign up today and get a FREE iPad! Simply enter your email address and we’ll ship your new gift directly to your house!!

An ad that is not misleading would be this:

Sign up today and get a FREE iPad! *Participation in promotional offers required. (The last part will likely be in fine print.)

How do these offers work?

Each company has a different approach to the same end result, but in general, the company has a sponsorship deal with the advertising company in which the advertiser pays the promoter an affiliate bonus for every customer they send them. This bonus is what the promoter uses to pay for your free gift. So how can they afford really expensive gifts and still make money? That’s where simple math comes into play.

I run a website and I have a few sponsored ads throughout my website, so I know how much can be made on deals like these, but for this example I’m going to use simple (yet realistic) numbers to illustrate how this is all possible.

Let’s take a standard “FREE iPad” offer. The promoter tells you to get your gift you have 180 days to complete a total of 13 offers from 3 tiers. There are three key facts in that one sentence. First, you have 6 months to complete the offers. Second, you have to do 13 offers and third is that the offers are broken into tiers.

  1. Time limit: The promotion company is banking that you don’t have what it takes to comply with all these rules and this is where they make the real money. Imagine if 100 people completed 11 offers, but ran out of time before they could do two more. The promoter just made affiliate bonuses on 1100 offers and didn’t have to ship 1 iPad! If each offer earned them about $50, they just walked away with $55,000! Hopefully this clarifies how it’s possible to afford such expensive gifts.
  2. 13 Total Offers: That’s a lot of offers and it’s easy to get confused and lost in all the signups you’re about to get involved with. Again, the promoter hopes that you stay confused so you either a) don’t get all 13 or b) stay a subscribed member so they can continue making affiliate bonuses off you.
  3. 3 Tiers: One such offer site mentions you have to pick 2 offers from tier 1, 2 offers from tier 2 and 9 offers from tier 3. The reason they do this is because the offers range so dramatically from things like subscribing to a magazine for 3 months to applying for a car loan. It would be unfair to make you apply for 13 car loans, so they break them down into manageable groups.

As you can see if you apply some basic math, even if every single person did every single requirement and they shipped out an iPad for every person, they are still not losing money depending on which model they ship. Plus, $50 is an average amount. I’ve heard of affiliate payouts being much higher.

My two cents

To call this a scam, you would be implying that these companies are promising you one thing and backing out at the last minute thus robbing you of your free gift. Aside from these offers consuming loads of time and aside from you perhaps making a mistake of not completing one of the required terms, there is no way you will not get your free gift. It would also be a scam if these companies were asking for money and not following through on their promises.

So, for all those that still think these offers are scams, listen up. It’s natural to feel “scammed” after seeing an ad for an offer claiming you can get some really expensive gadget for free (iPad, laptops, big screen tvs, etc) only to discover that there’s a “catch”. But just because this upsets you, does that mean it’s really a scam? Of course not! That’s like saying you signed up for a credit card with a 0% intro rate and then 6 months later, you’re surprised to be hit with a 19% APR. You should only be surprised if you didn’t read the fine print and only be mad at yourself that you didn’t. Offers like these and others like home loans, car leases, hotel rentals or anything you sign a contract for should not be obtained without having read the fine print first! That’s just common sense.

Hopefully now we can all agree that they are not scamming anyone. Just read the details clearly if you’re interested and follow all the rules. It’s not that difficult if you’re paying attention and you will certainly get a free gift at the end. By the way, if you still think this process is a scam, you probably also believe that Quibids is a scam too.

A little history

So where did all these offers start?? As far back as I can remember, it all happend around the time when the 3rd gen iPod came out when a company called started offering free iPods to anyone who signed up for 1 offer, but then you had to get 5 friends to sign up under you and they each had to complete 1 offer themselves. After all this happened, you were sent a free 20GB iPod. I was able to score two during this time. The problem with this setup (if you haven’t noticed already) was that it was a pyramid scheme. What this meant was only the people who started first were getting the free iPod because at some point, there was nobody left to sign up (to get your five friends) because everyone was out trying to get 5 more people! Make sense?

That’s when the complaints started…people weren’t getting their iPods, so they felt cheated. Well, since they never paid any money up front, then what were they exactly cheated out of? Perhaps they were cheated out of the chance of getting a free iPod, but this hardly equals a monetary value.

Anyway, the business model was changed to allow people to bypass getting referrals and instead, just complete more offers. Eventually, the whole “referral getting” model was scrapped and now we have the current business model which is simply completing multiple offers. They even added a twist–you only have 6 months to complete everything! See, the ones offering the free gifts are hoping you can’t complete everything in 6 months.

Overpriced concerts, ticket scalpers and fee after fee after fee

I read an article today about Bob Dylan. What struck me more than the fact that he’s actually touring is the way he plans to sell tickets to his next show in San Francisco. But before I get into that, let’s go over the process (and cost) of going to a big-name concert these days. (If you just want to know what Bob Dylan did, skip ahead.)

Naturally, for an act as big as Lady Gaga, Metallica or (hate to say) Justin Bieber, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye after shelling out $70+ for a basic seat somewhere in the back of the building or arena. Of course, if you want to get much closer, you’re probably looking at the $200-300+ range and if you want to sit so close that you can actually touch Justin’s bowl-of-a-haircut, you’re looking in the $700-1000 range. Have these artists become so popular that the prices keep going up or is there something else at play? That question is hard to answer because there are so many factors involved. You have to consider the popularity of the artist, the location where they’re playing and their touring frequency. One fact that can determine your purchase price is who/where are you buying your tickets from.

Purchasing Concert Tickets

Let’s explore a current event. I went to and searched for one ticket in the best available section for the Lady Gaga concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. By the way, it’s August 24th and the concert is on March 28th, 2011–that’s still 7 months away! The fact that I can’t get a better seat than this right now proves the next argument I’m about to make. Anyway, here’s my ticket:

From this, you can clearly see that I have a mid-level seat and a low-level row. This actually puts me in a fairly good seat as far as the view is concerned. But let’s look at the price. We have a ticket face value of $181.50 and a convenience charge of $19.65. I haven’t even selected how I want it delivered to me and I’m already out $201.15. Speaking of delivery, I wonder if I can just print it on my computer for free…

I guess not. Believe it or not, I can have a printed ticket mailed to my house via standard United States mail at no charge, but to PRINT the ticket on my OWN printer using my OWN ink and paper, it costs me $2.50! For this example, I won’t count the expedited shipping charges because these prices come from the shippers and have no bearing on the cost of the ticket unless you’re impatient and you want them faster. But I will mention that if you wanted to pick the tickets up at any local Ticketmaster location, it will cost you $3.00.

Let’s recap. Aside from choosing faster shipping, you have three basic options:

  1. Use TicketFast: NOW — Print your tickets in the “convenience” of your own home. The cost: $2.50
  2. Pick it up at a Ticketmaster location — Any Ticketmaster outlet can print your ticket on demand and hand it to you. The cost: $3.00
  3. Have it mailed to your house — Ticketmaster will print your ticket on demand, put it in an envelope, stamp it and mail it to your house. The cost: FREE

Is it just me or does all that sound a little backward?! Wouldn’t it be more convenient to be able to print your ticket for free using your own supplies? And why does Ticketmaster feel they need to charge $3.00 to say hi and hand a ticket to someone at a ticket counter? (Actually I’m told that if you want them to say hi, it’s another 25 cents.) And why do they not charge to print and mail a ticket via the Post Office?

Anyway, moving on. I haven’t bought my ticket yet and I still have to consider a few more (optional) costs. Let’s take a look:

If I choose to, I can buy an exclusive t-shirt for $30 and parking in one of two Staples Center lots at $25 or $20–that is if I don’t want to try and find a cheaper (and likely less secure) parking lot further away from the building. Since this article is simply based on ticket prices alone, we’ll skip past these charges and continue to the purchase page.

Even though I included parking on the shopping cart, you can still get the overall idea of total cost. The last fee to be added is an order processing fee for: $5.90. What is this for?! I thought the earlier convenience charge of $19.65 would cover the entire ordering process?? Nonetheless, it’s a fee that can’t be avoided.

Our total for one Lady Gaga concert that will probably last 2-3 hours on a Monday night is:

Grand Total: $209.55

Remember, this is for just one ticket without parking, no souvenirs and no alcohol! And don’t get me wrong–I’m not inferring that Lady Gaga isn’t worth it (I wouldn’t know as I’ve never been to her concert.)–I’m just making a point here!

I just wanted to throw this in here because it can potentially add to your overall cost. It’s ticket insurance and it’ll let you recover your purchase price if you can’t attend the concert for whatever reason–all for the low cost of $7 per ticket. Take a look at the terms:

The Aftermarket

There is a huge aftermarket for concert/event tickets on sites like StubHub,,, and many more. Just go to any one of these sites and you’ll see the difference in prices!

This is where the real mark-ups begin! As a quick example, I went to StubHub and looked for a ticket in the same section as my ticket and would you believe it? The concert is 7 months away and still not sold out, yet they are already selling same-section tickets for $237. As you can imagine, these prices will only go up the closer the concert date comes.

The only real advantage with these aftermarket sites is that you can generally pick your own seats whereas with Ticketmaster, you are stuck with what you get.

Ethical Dilemma

Buying something for one price and selling it for another when demand is higher is not illegal and is generally considered a good business decision. But what about companies that buy up very large amounts of tickets just to sell them at a 50%+ markup? Do you think it’s fair that you don’t even have a fighting chance to get a ticket at face value?

Personally, I think buying tickets online is a great convenience and certainly worth the “fees” to not have to stand in a line for hours to buy a ticket at the door, but I am completely against ticket hoarders much like I’m also against domain hoarders. These people make it almost impossible to get tickets because they buy so many so fast. Plus, the venues, the artists, Ticketmaster and everyone else involved don’t want unsold tickets, so they will sell them to anyone with money.


Every artist could do what Bob Dylan is doing and that is not allow any concert tickets to be purchased before the event. He decided that tickets for his next concert in San Francisco will only be available if you stand in line starting midday and purchase your ticket at the door. In addition, fans can only buy one ticket each which means your friends are standing in line with you. Oh and I almost forgot to mention, ticket sales are cash only!

By doing this, Bob Dylan is single-handedly eliminating the over-inflated ticket prices found online, the ticket resellers on eBay (people who buy out-of-state event tickets just for resell), the “convenience” charges from Ticketmaster, the handling and order processing charges and the printing charges. Good job, Bob!!

Of course doing it this way will most certainly cause many more problems–having that many people in lines all day holding cash, but I think it’s the only fair thing to do to ensure everyone has a fighting chance. Obviously this doesn’t stop people from scalping them, but because the tickets don’t go on sale until the day of the event, there will be no time for proper marketing and inflation.

If every artist did this, maybe the tickets wouldn’t be so high and regular people can actually afford to go to high profile events. If it continues going down this road, eventually we’ll be accepting higher and higher ticket prices and before we know it, we’ll all be financing our next concert.

I'm back and better than ever!

I know it’s been awhile since I last updated the site, but between working on other web projects, my full time job, taking care of school and sleeping, I haven’t had much time for this site unfortunately. However, this is all about to change as I expect to get back to my regular daily routine in no time!

Also, for those who didn’t notice or as a memo to my new visitors, the site has been completely revamped for the first time since I launched it!! I’m using a whole new backend system and I feel the new layout will make everything just a bit more organized and easier to find.

New layout

In light of the new layout and in the spirit of not having the site closed for too long, I have opened the site now. What this means is simply that there might some things out of place (like the menus) and things that don’t match too well due to the site being solely formatted for the previous layout.

With that said, please bear with me as I work out the kinks. I can promise you that the new site will allow for much more flexibility (for me and you), plus add some new enhancements and features that are sure to up the user experience around here.

Some new features

  • Submit your writings – I am now opening the site for the first time to guest bloggers and freelance writers! You can submit your own articles for review and I will post them with all due credit. In time, you may be granted full publishing rights to the site.
  • Improved newsletter – I am throwing out the old and bringing in the new. I will be offering an updated newsletter for anyone wishing to get free information from me that’s not available on the site.

I think that’s it for now. I hope you enjoy the new site!