Psychologists tell us that the word “free” sets off a mental trigger.
Endorphins are released when you see the word ‘free’.
Yet, ‘free’ also makes us immediately skeptical.
People say ‘free’ is never free. Free means that you have the opportunity to receive something without cost.
The reality is that nothing is free! The only question is – who assumes the cost? Nothing is free until someone has first paid for the item.
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Reasons To Beware Of “Free”
“Free” is often a marketing word. Researchers tell us people would rather buy one and get one free than buy two for 50% off. Any word that becomes a marketing resource is a word that should cause us to pause. When something free is being offered always stop and ask the question – why would they be offering that product to me for free?
Free might simply mean there is not a dollar requirement, but there might still be a cost. ‘Free’ can be a terribly inconvenient thing at times. Free can also be extremely time consuming. When someone offers you a free product, ask yourself if a cost is involved other than price.
Reflecting on my own experience with’ free’ I think many of us have a fear of free – and rightfully so. This month I have been offering a free eBook to new and existing subscribers on my site (www.moneyhelpforchristians.com). I offered that book to my readers ‘free’ in that there was no financial cost to the book. However, in this case there is a requirement – a subscription to Money Help For Christians. Furthermore, free to my readers did not necessarily mean free to me – the one who provided the eBook. When I offered the book free I did not ask readers to cover that cost; I carried it. This concerned people. Many were looking for the catch.
In the case of my eBook I was hoping to increase my readership, and so in exchange I was willing to offer a free incentive. Since my motivation to offer the product free was known, you could proceed with confidence. Once you determine why someone would offer the product for free, you can evaluate its worth. If, however, you cannot figure out why it would be offered free, it is quite possible something else is happening that you are unaware of. Avoid unexplainable offers of free.
Free – Consumer Implications:
As a consumer you need to remember that nothing is free! When something is offered ‘free’ it simply means the provider is assuming the cost. Typically, there is a valid reason for this. When you get a better deal, you spend more.
Just because something is ‘free’ does not mean it is better or even cheaper for you. Many organizations offer a free month or two for a subscription based product because they know most people will be too lazy to cancel their subscription after those free months. Remember, free is a marketing word.
Free – Ethical Implications:
While remembering that nothing is truly free, we should recognize that anything you take for free is coming out of someone else's pocket.
Consider the the following example. You check out of the store and when you are unloading the groceries you realize that you unintentionally didn’t pay for an item. At this moment that item is ‘free’ to you, but the store has now assumed that cost. This is why it is important to pay for the product as you now have the product. Theft is a means by which some people get items free. However, a price has been paid – honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity were all sacrificed. As a result, the cost is assumed by the store owner instead of the customer.
How about another seemingly silly example? When you eat at a fast food place and you load up your bag with 50 ketchup packets so you can use them at home for ‘free’, you need to remember that all you are doing is transferring the ketchup bill from yourself to the restaurant. The ketchup is not really free – you just didn’t pay for it. In this case you essentially determined it would be more appropriate for another to pay for the item so you could have it for free.
We should only accept free products when they are offered.
Free – Christian Implications:
and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24 NIV)
As I read the Christian story I notice and embrace the importance of our freedom from the unrelenting forces of evil. On the one hand, the grace offered to us is free – we pay no price for our salvation. However, ultimately one cannot speak of forgiveness as a free product since a terribly substantial price was paid for forgiveness.
The beauty of forgiveness is not that it comes without a price, but that the price was not passed along to us. God assumed the cost. Though not ultimately liable nor responsible for the price, Jesus assumes it and pays it.
I, for one, am extremely thankful for God’s free gift of his son – Jesus Christ.
What good or bad experiences have you had with “free”?