If it's free, don't take it!
Red Stories
Jan 27th 2021

If it's free, don't take it!

Esther O.
Esther O.

Let me start with a question, when was the last time you read " terms and conditions"? That long body of words that spring up and has a box where you tick accept at the end, sounds familiar? Yes, that one, when was the last time you read it? Don't we all skip and click on accept? Cause that's what I do.

The irony is we all know how important this is yet we hardly ever go through it. And why do you think we do that? Well, its because we are so focused on what we need, what that thing can do for us that we don't spare time for anything else. As longs as this app, this platform, this organisation can meet this need. Then I can deal with every other thing. But honestly, can you? 

Even more when we are getting that thing or service for free, then nothing else matters. But you see everything has its terms of service and operations, and reading the terms and conditions or not, will not stop it from abiding by its operation guide. But what I want to talk about today is the real face of Freebies.

Freebies are exciting, fun, and the best part, they are free. Well, that's the idea. It is an addition that cost you nothing, and fair enough why turn it down. But you have to ask yourself, are freebies that harmless? Does it cost nothing? what effect will it have on my business and the people involved?

Don't worry, you are less likely to die from receiving a freebie, but that's not to rule it out. Okay, that's going too far, but it’s a joke, and it's okay to laugh. The truth is, whatever it is you are getting there is something you'll be required to do in return. While some of the things can be as harmless as just typing the brand/ item name, you should know it can be as harmful as costing you profit. And on the long run loyal customer, without even appearing to have done or still doing so. 

It is free, yes, but there is at least a term, a condition somewhere in it that will cost you. still don't agree, let’s run through a few case studies. 

The POS freebie

You have been thinking of a way to up your business, go digital, go cashless, and you have arrived at acquiring a POS Machine as one of the solutions. Good enough. You reach out to your bank, and they tell you "Oh, it's free”. You even get free receipt paper every time you need them. It comes with free sim card plus data supply all year round!" Perfect! What could be better? Now here's what you are missing:

The POS doesn't belong to you. It belongs to the bank and can be taken back from you at the bank's discretion. Yes, you paid a certain amount to get it, but it's not yours still.

There is a target number of transaction for each day, and this puts pressure on you, and your business. It could influence you to almost mandate card payment for your business. Customers don't like it when their freedom to choose is crippled.

Unless the bank is next door, there is a good chance your transport fare to the bank cost more than a roll of receipt paper. Plus how do we calculate the time you spent going to the bank, and the energy so we can arrive at the real cost? And if you're like me, add the price of a cold bottle of water, or a hot cup of tea for a rainy day.


The 20% extra freebie

This type doesn't promise you everything free. It is reasonable enough you might think. But here is the part you would hardly notice, if it's a soft drink, the 20% extra means more sugar for your body. It increases the health risk of that product, but you don't mind, do you? It's free. There is a recommended daily intake, and that extra crosses the line unless you plan to keep the 20% till the next day. Don't bother diluting it with water. It is still the same sugar content. It's the same concentrate merely yielding more quantity. Since you probably won't be turning down extra sugar, let's look at another case study.

Price reduction in promo sales

In this case, you are going to be getting it at a reduced price. The reduction can go as low as half the price or even a quarter of the original price. This in itself, should make you wonder how they will make their profit. That’s because goods don't just go on sale, it has to be for one of the following reasons, which of course is to your disadvantage, but you won't know. 

The goods are defective: it might look okay, it might not be all bad, but you can be sure something is wrong or is about to be wrong with it, so they have to clear their inventory.

The goods are obsolete or about to become obsolete: you considering the price will jump on it, forgetting that it might be irrelevant to your emerging needs. 

The quality is not the same: of course, you will only find out after the purchase, or in the case of a service, the subscription. The original quality and quantity, the duration would have been altered to turn in profit on the sale. At this point, it might not serve the purpose for which you needed in the first place.  


Whether it is for your personal use or business, learn to look beyond what you will be getting. Carefully examine what you will be giving. Check if it is something you can afford to give because nothing comes for free. And if it does, please don't take it, I can bet you there's something you are missing. It is good to pay for a service/ goods' worth, as much as it is good to enjoy your money's worth on something.

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