Make Money by Giving Stuff Away – Is FreeUSiPad.com a Scam?
Posted by Heather
I’m sure you’ve heard the commercials for freeusipad.com at some point. They’re odd and don’t have much context to them, with some hilariously bad acting. But a business isn’t worth shunning based on a bad commercial.
Is the free iPad offer a scam?
Or is there some company out there just waiting to offer you a popular and expensive electronic device in exchange for your opinion?
There are probably several variations on the ads, but the ones I’ve heard go something like this… (paraphrasing based on what I remember of it)
Guy 1: Bro! Whoa, dude that is sweet!
Guy 2: Yeah, but don’t be jealous, you can get your own!
Guy 1: No way, how?
Guy 2: The folks at freeusipad.com will give you one too! They send you an iPad, we give our opinions and, in the end, you get to keep the iPad!
Ok, I gotta stop there. The rest of the commercial is spent reiterating the same points, with a horribly cheesy end. Throughout the course of the commercial, Guy 2 berates Guy 1 because Guy 1 can’t remember a web address, let alone how to use it. After Guy 2 explains it to Guy 1 again, he says “Say it with me, ‘FreeUSiPad.com’!” The acting is just terrible. I wish I could remember the entire transcript.
Let’s dissect this bit by bit.
Why would they give away an iPad?
According to the commercial, they want to get people’s opinions on the iPad. It sounds reasonable to want to obtain consumer opinions on your products. But “freeusipad.com” isn’t Apple. If it were Apple, it’d be counter-productive. They wouldn’t make money giving away the iPad to obtain customer opinions on their product and if they did, there’d be no point to selling the product. No one would buy a product they could get for free.
So this company wants opinions on the iPad…why? What purpose does it serve them to see how a consumer likes some other company’s product? If they were trying to create something to mimic the iPad, why wouldn’t they give away their own device? Why put money in the competitor’s pocket? Logically, it makes no sense.
Above all else, Apple wouldn’t be such a huge and wealthy company if its products weren’t popular and well-liked. They can already determine people’s opinion on the iPad, without having to give them away. They could research their sales, their averages, monitor app downloads… And if they were still in the dark about it, they could just do a quick Google search for iPad product reviews on Amazon, ResellerRatings, etc. Giving away the product they want people to buy is totally unnecessary.
If it isn’t Apple, who’s offering them?
For starters, if you Google “freeusipad.com” instead of typing it in and going straight there, you’ll wind up at freeusipad.net, which is actually a simple WordPress blog filled with posts about the iPad and posing as the actual site. Perhaps they are affiliated, but the only evidence of an affiliation are the banner ads for the actual freeusipad.com website.
It’s quite possible they are affiliated though, given that “freeusipad.net” ranks #1 in Google when you do a search for freeusipad.com, and the entire site is dedicated to telling you more about the iPad and why you should want you. I suppose that could be used in an effort to convince anyone who is on the fence about wanting an iPad that they absolutely should want one.
According to the actual freeusipad.com website, they are the company offering them. I mean that literally – the company name is “freeusipad.com”. This information alone should raise an eyebrow.
The company is located in Ontario, Canada, making it seem kind of ironic that the free iPads are in the US. Is that some kind of underlying joke to prove Canada is smarter?
How are they able to offer an expensive piece of equipment for free?
This is one of those occasions to use the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. Your “free” iPad will take some effort and definitely time.
They aren’t swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck, so it’s up to you to bring in the advertising income that eventually pays for the cost of the iPad.
Maybe that still sounds like a deal, since technically that doesn’t mean you’re shelling out any cash for a new toy, right? I mean, who wouldn’t take part in some mindless clicking for a couple hours if they’d receive a brand new $500 iPad from it? If that were all it took, it might be worth it.
What do you have to do to get a “free” iPad?
On the surface it looks simple – go to the website, enter your email address, and you even get a choice between the iPad, iPad 2, or iPad 3G. The site is simple but flashy, with a lot of fine print at the bottom. I have to actually give them credit, the fine print is small, but there is enough of it that it’s kind of hard to miss. In other words, I wouldn’t deem them shady based on their website alone, since the disclosure is there on the front page.
Actually, I hate to admit it that I wouldn’t technically say it’s a scam since they do inform you that “participation is required”. At the same time, calling it “free” is still pretty much a lie. They aren’t directly receiving money from you, but they aren’t some sort of iPad-Loving-Good-Samaritans that can’t wait to donate iPads to everyone in…need? And one view from one person isn’t worth that much to any advertiser… unless they get something out of it too.
Happy Birthday Susie… You can have your gifts, but only after you mow the lawn, take out the trash, do the laundry, wash the dishes, babysit your brother, crush the cans, do your homework, what am I missing? There are thirteen requires “sponsor offers” you must fulfill.
You start out by registering with all your real information (how else do they know where to send your “gift”). Next, they take you through survey questions and “special offers”, though the site explains that you can skip these. Then you go through three pages of “Sponsor Offers”. You must accept two each from pages 1 & 2 and 9 from page 3. They are very specific about that.
If you’re wondering just what might be required to complete these “Sponsor Offers”, here’s what they say:
Please note Sponsor offers may require you to sample and/or purchase products of interest and/or take other actions such as applying for or obtaining a loan or extension of credit (including credit cards), transferring a balance, or similar steps. In order to remain eligible for your gift, you must complete all of the sponsor offers that require you to sample and purchase products of interest within 180 days of signing up for our service.
Some of the Sponsors they use are BMG, Netflix, Blockbuster, NY Times, Gevalia Coffee, ADT Home Security, Discover, and VideoProfessor. There are others too, and each requires you to sign up for some sort of membership, subscription, or scheduled shipments.
Couldn’t I sign up for all the offers then cancel the next day?
Sure, but they wouldn’t send an iPad if you did. They say you must have “completed and qualified for” the number of sponsor offers required. What do they mean by “qualified”?
The qualification time varies by Sponsor, but may be in excess of 30 days.
So… you could sign up and cancel 30 days later? Is that it?
We may, in our sole discretion, cancel any account and deny any gift with or without notice for:
- aiding, promoting, or participating in circumventing the program, including, but not limited to, posting information on a website, forum, or participate in any organized system of individuals trying to obtain a gift, including obtaining information from other participants that has to do with “canceling the offers”, cancellation time frames, and any encouragement or direction to cancel Sponsor Offers;
- signing up for and immediately canceling offers including Sponsor Offers;
FreeUSiPad.com says “NO scamming us!” Alrighty… so what about signing up for a bunch and just cancelling most of them? What you are only genuinely interested in NetFlix?
You will not be eligible to receive a gift in this promotion if, within 30 days of any Sponsor Offer Sign-Up Date, you cancel your participation or enrollment in more than two Sponsor Offers you have completed as a part of the program requirements. (the “Cancellation Limit”).
Oh, guess that won’t work either.
This means that out of thirteen offers you are required to keep eleven of them. And you are at the mercy of each individual sponsor to confirm that you have, in fact, fulfilled whatever they require of you. They are the ones that will report your qualifying status back to FreeUSiPad.com.
Even if you follow through, dutifully accepting all these “offers”, the burden may still fall on you to let them know. The sponsors are supposed to, but you have to document all your new subscriptions and memberships to offer as proof.
They also mention:
In order to remain eligible for your gift, you must complete all of the sponsor offers that require you to sample and purchase products of interest within 180 days of signing up for our service.
But below that they tell you:
Your gift should ship to you within 6 to 8 weeks after FreeUSiPad.Com receives confirmation of your delivery address.
So it’s pretty fuzzy on when they are actually going to ship this to you. They should have your address from day one. Sure, 6 to 8 weeks is enough time for them to make sure you’ve stuck with your offers for at least a month, but where does the 180 days come in?
Are they going to require you to ship the iPad back if you haven’t fulfilled all the requirements within 180 days? What do they mean by “remain eligible” if they are shipping within 6 to 8 weeks? Or is it that it will somehow take that long to “confirm your delivery address”?
How much will a “free iPad” really cost?
There’s no telling, for sure. There’s a likely possibility that they’re banking on the idea of people signing up for a bunch of offers and then forgetting about them.
Note that their free trials may not be the same as the company’s actual free trial if you were to go to them directly. Case in point: Netflix. If you sign up for Netflix from their own website, it’s $7.99 for streaming OR 1-DVD-at-a-time. You get a one month free trial period. However, according to FreeUSiPad.com, their Netflix offer is a two-week trial which then becomes $9.99. The $2 difference isn’t much to squawk about, but they slashed the free trial period in half in order to fit within their 30-day requirement context.
The trial for some of the offers requires you to proceed well beyond one month. For example, Columbia House requires you to partake for two full years. And you have to purchase a minimum of 5 movies over the course of the next two years. Going direct through Columbia House gives you a 10 day free trial. Going through FreeUSiPad.com you must purchase at least 5 movies and you cannot cancel prior to the two years. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that their movie prices start at $19.95.
Other offers have similar price tags. VideoProfessor, for example, has a membership price tag of $89.95 + $6.95 S&H every five weeks. You get a 10 day trial, but FreeUSiPad.com still makes sure you’re stuck with some hefty price tag. None of their trials appear to go beyond 2 weeks. Frankly, how could they? It wouldn’t fit within their “cancel limitation” rules.
Well then, why not just opt in to the cheaper ones?
In theory that would work. In actuality, probably not.
Remember, there are three pages of offers and you must accept nine from the last page. Netflix, Blockbuster, all the cheap sponsor offers are probably on the first two pages. The third page of offers likely has all the real money-makers. And remember, you have to opt-in to thirteen in total.
Some do not have an upfront cost, but instead require you to get a loan (which also means you must get approved for it). Those kinds of offers could involve annual fees to have the card, or just require you to make a purchase on your new card. Either way, they are making sure that you can’t get off scot-free.
Once you’ve applied for the card, and especially once you have used it, you can’t just turn around and close the account. That impacts your credit score. If you don’t want to impact your credit score by signing up for unnecessary loans and credit cards, you’ll be stuck opting for ones that require some sort of payment up front.
Even if the iPad isn’t free, couldn’t I still wind up getting it cheaper?
Possibly, but I still doubt it. It’s kind of like gambling, and the game is definitely rigged in the casino’s favor.
When enticing offers like this are presented, always keep in mind that they have to get money from somewhere. Not just to pay for your iPad, but to pay for the cost of everything associated with convincing you to sign up for a “free iPad”. They are a company and as such, they have associated overhead costs. If they really have a bunch of iPads sitting in a warehouse somewhere, they have to be paying for the space.
The company’s world doesn’t revolve around sending people free iPads. This company has to rake in enough advertising dollars to cover the cost of the iPad and then some. That means you have to pay enough to cover the iPad, and then some.
Even if by some fairy tale chance, you go through every required offer, keep it a minimum of 6 months, spend only the absolute minimum required, and then cancel them all to avoid spending any more money…. There’s still this:
All gifts and offers are based on a first-come, first-serve basis. Prizes subject to availability, and quantities may be limited. FreeUSiPad.Com reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. FreeUSiPad.Com reserves the right to cancel any offer at any time for any reason, with or without notice.