Friday, June 12, 2009

High cost of free items

Freebies are not a new thing. I remember as a kid getting free stickers or other junk in the mail.

But the Internet takes it to a whole new level. In my reader, I subscribe to several sites on stretching my budget, and on a daily basis I see new offers for free items, Internet coupons or calculations to add coupons from the March 15 flyer to this week’s sale item.

And sometimes, I get sucked into it.

Sure, I’ll try the new shampoo. Or a new beverage. And my kid inevitably needs a diaper when we’re out. Or I can send the sample to the next baby drive at work. So why not?

The reality is, we all pay the price for freebies. Freebies are another way of marketing, and while the Web may seem “free,” product distribution certainly is not. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve requested an item, only to receive it, weeks later, swaddled in plastic, bundled with brochures and coupons, and covered with a plastic, padded, waterproof envelope for shipping.

Yes, it’s “free.” But it costs the manufacturers. It costs the marketers. It costs us.

Think of all the trash this creates. I won't even begin to guess the impact this creates. And it's a problem made worse by the fact some people utilize multiple accounts to reach the same offer.

"Do you need 8 versions of the same free sample or coupon? Probably not," urges Northern Cheapskate. "If you're not going to use the product, then it is a waste of those resources. And if you throw it away.... well that's even worse …."


Gruppie Girl said...

Well said. I never thought about how much those freebies really can cost.

Robin said...

Hear, hear. Not to mention, many of those foods you receive free after coupon have next to no nutritional value. It's no use stocking up on "free" sugary cereals if you're going to pay for it with your metabolism and your health.

Green Bean said...

Good point!! Every since I became more environmentally aware, free doesn't always seem like a good idea.