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'The difference between 'free' and free' blog discussion
in Martin's blogs & appearances & MoneySavingExpert in the news
13 replies 2.1K views
Former_MSE_Helen Former MSE
This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.
Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.
Read Martin's "The difference between 'free' and free" Blog.
Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.
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Now I'm off to complain about the difference between "unlimited broadband" and "unlimited* broadband"
I hate the Unlimited marketing term cos it means limited or fair use (and ASA allow it) in most cases!!!
I dislike free phone or minutes/texts because they are accounted for in your tariff/term!!
The only amazing\true unbelievable value freebies are the previews/free show tickets from Showfilmfirst etc.
Marketing people have really embraced the idea that people react differently to 'free'. Because they perceive it as no risk, the uptake is far larger for 'free' than when the cost is negligible (e.g. 1p) than rational economics would suggest.
The problem for a company is that they 'free' tends to make bad business sense, so there will be pressure to build costs in via another method, usually hidden, such as a penalty fee structure, costs coming in after a few months, having to sign-up to a mailing list or hiding the charges in something else (such as the p&p examples Martin gave).
Anything that helps people recognise that if something says 'free' they should immediately look for the catch can only be a good thing in countering confusion marketing in its many innovative forms. :T
Not sure where:
"Free Nelson Mandela-
with every four gallons"
fits into this but it's a good step in the right direction.
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Whilst at it if it is ok to post another little finding. I've never for the life in me understood how items to be won as per competitions rules are categorised under freebies because it is only competition as any other where the prize is going to be free; not as if the item is waiting for everyone who makes an entry of address, vital statistics, santa wishes etc. This is something I noticed some time ago, don't know if it is still the case. If it is, then that part of the board needs a revamp. It doesn't matter whether you hate or dislike - you sign up for it, then you follow it to the letter and signing up for "fair use" isn't essentially a bad thing. I have an issue with abusers who cripple businessnesses. It isn't as if they have a gun on your head asking you to sign it - you have an option of not taking it up at all and an astute business would have clauses to protect their business. I'm a fan of such clauses and I think they are dman clever. More power to them and a thumbs down to the abusers. If they ask for p&p there's nothing hidden there - it is those who promote such offers who are obliged to be upfront about the nature of the offer. To ask for p&p is not a crime but intelligent people ask for self addressed stamped envelope instead as does MSE for their stickers because that would demonstrate that there's no catch, no hidden costs, no gimmicks and that is free.
I agree with your general stance around "you sign up to the t&cs or you don't sign at all", but my problem on that score is that most people would take 'unlimited' to mean without limits. The fact that this has to be stated shows how bizarre the current situation has got.
The mobile / broadband approach uses unlimited in a way that says "there are limits", but tends to plant them in the small print. Approaches such as bandwidth throttling for high users can make sense to prevent the 'abuse' you describe such as someone downloading vast amounts of videos for future watching...but for someone watching a streaming service, or playing online games during the 'fair use period' could find that kind of throttling will hugely disrupt their experience, even if they are low users overall.
They need to understand the impact of the t&c, as they might well make a different choice as a result. Users in this situation aren't helped when companies that apply a fair use policy use the term 'unlimited' as well as those which don't.
The absolute worst are those that say 'unlimited' and then go on to define it elsewhere such as 'unlimited up to 500 texts/GB (etc) per month'. So...wait...hang on. Its not unlimited, its 500 per month. Wouldn't saying that be more accurate and helpful? Oh, right...unlimited makes it look better - and your competitors do it, which means you don't want to look like you're more restrictive than they are.
Its confusion marketing, plain and simple. Even if the impact is negligible, we shouldn't be defending it! If there's no problem with a clause for users, then there should be no fear in presenting it clearly and prominently.
Absolutely no problem with companies asking for p&p charges, or any charges of any sort as part of a 'free' offer. I do have a problem with attempts to hide additional charges in unexpected ways and places.
As long as the p&p costs are made clear, it doesn't matter if they decide to charge £100. You can see this easily and make an informed decision.
Not so silly to the hundreds, if not thousands caught out by the "free trial" just pay the postage offers such as this forum posting http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=3475221&highlight= Then get charged £150 a month until you discover it!