Wednesday, November 13, 2013

1252 Free Gift

1252 Free Gift

Wait a minute? If two positives make a negative, “free gift” means the gift isn’t free, right? Consider this sentence:  “I am not not going to Grandma’s for dinner.”  That means you ARE going.

You know the offers.  The cosmetics people offer “free gifts” when you buy a certain amount of something.  But the gifts aren’t free. The price is built in to whatever you’re buying.

“We’ll DOUBLE the offer and send you a second roll of our ‘Amazing non-stick adhesive tape’ Absolutely free!!!! Just pay additional shipping and handling.”

The price of the item is, say, five bucks.  You get two for the price of one, so that’s $2.50 each.  The shipping and handling is $7.95 and you have to pay it twice.  So that’s $16, plus the five, makes $21.00 so the price of the five dollar purchase is actually more than double the price of one roll.  And you can’t buy just one.

Free gift, indeed.  Are there gifts with a price? Obviously.

There’s nothing wrong with offering bribes to customers.  It’s almost as old as commerce itself.

But some of it is ridiculous.  

Let’s look at over the counter medicine bottles.  The aspirin makers are kings of hollow.  They’ll put 100 pills in a bottle that could easily hold 500.  Sometimes they’ll bribe you with a banner “25% extra FREE!!!”  So now the bottle can hold all they sell you, but room for only 475 more.

Listerine is fond of the flavor of the month bribe.  We all know Listerine works well because anything that burns and tastes that foul HAS to be good.

But you now can get the stuff in half a dozen flavors, none of which have that icky medicinal taste we love to hate.  And none of which come with the original’s built in “this-awful-stuff-MUST-work.”

So they bundle a small bottle of the taste they’re pushing with the original so you can try it for yourself.  A decent size “free gift.”

Listerine has been around and essentially unchanged since 1879.  So it’s not like they have huge medical research and development costs.

The free bottle brings the price per ounce down to almost reasonable.

You can get a “free” book of Medicare demystification from Humana and “free” information on end-of-life life insurance from Met Life.

The price you pay for either is a thousand completely legal marketing phone calls from each.

Free and dirt cheap phone, internet, cable and satellite packages escalate exponentially when the bribe expires.

When you accept a free trial of a high priced item and want to return it, the seller sends a contractor crew to your house to build a maze from which there is no escape.

Subway sandwich shops offered add on avocado paste on its sandwiches and started charging for that midway through their widely advertised promotion period.

So, pony up for that “Free Gift!”  But forget about the “free” part.


--WOR radio non-personality John Gambling announced his retirement as of 12/20/13 and insisted the decision was his own and that the end of his show will mark the first time in 88 years that someone with that name is not on the air somewhere in New York. But unlike professional sports, they won’t retire his jersey number.  Too many others covet it and they’ll need a playoff series to see who gets that “0.”

--In more than 90 years on the air, WOR has had only four owners.  The first one wising up quickly and selling, the FCC pulling the license of the second… the third selling almost before the chairman’s coffin was in the ground. The fourth  -- current -- a perfect combination of stingy and grasping and headed by a guy who scabbed during a strike at NBC.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and any stray free gifts to

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