Falling For FREE, Yet Again - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Falling For FREE, Yet Again



Image courtesy of Majbns80


I've mentioned before how I am just as irrational as the next mensch when I hear the word that makes us all lose our minds:


The problem is that we all have a tendency to think that something that has zero cost in terms of money also has zero downsides--which is of course, not the case.

We also forget that when retailers offer us something for free, there's generally something in it for them.

Despite my keen interest in behavioral economics and the amount of time I spend writing and thinking about these issues, I managed to fall for yet another FREE! scheme.

It all started when I ordered some maternity clothes. I had finally worn out the non-maternity-looking maternity tops that I had been wearing since I was pregnant with LO, and I put in an online order for replacements through Motherhood Maternity. Never one to miss an opportunity for synergy (which is what I believe the business types are calling it these days--either that or vertical integration), the maternity clothing retailers always manage to weigh down one's purchase with coupons, magazines, free offers, and other sales pitches for your every baby need--since clearly a baby is an inevitable result of purchasing maternity clothes.

One of the free offers included in my tee-shirt order was for a free baby sling from Seven Slings.

We already own two such items, a Baby Bjorn and a Moby Wrap. We successfully used both slings for LO. And yet, I still felt that there was a void in my sling-owning. I needed something somewhat easier to use--or so I told myself.

Normally, I'm kind of an obsessive researcher when it comes to baby gear. I like to refer to the book Baby Bargains, check reviews on Amazon, and generally find out everything I can about the ease of use/safety/baby preferences/etc for an item before committing to buy it.

But since this sling was FREE!, I skipped all that stuff. Happily, I plunked down the $11.50 for shipping and handling, and clicked Purchase.

Immediately, I started having second thoughts.

I looked up some reviews, and found that others had deemed these slings poorly made. I discovered that there were no exchanges or returns allowed, even if the sizing was wrong. (This was why they required you to buy "sizing insurance," which I had skipped on). Horrified by my findings, I went back to the Seven Slings website and tried to undo my mistake

That's when I discovered that it was impossible for me to cancel the order--despite having made the order less than 15 minutes before.


While these sales tactics are pretty darn low-down, I was even angrier at myself. The fact was, I knew better.

By the time the sling arrived, I had decided I would simply give it to Goodwill. I didn't really need it. There was no guarantee it would fit me and baby (and there was no way to know for sure until Thing 2 arrived). It was probably not as well made as the Bjorn and the Moby, which are still perfectly serviceable.

I decided to chalk it up as a $11.50 lesson on why I should treat a FREE purchase as no different from a regular purchase.

I've realized that if I'm not willing to spend money on something, then there's no reason to get it for "FREE." (I need to put that in a cross-stitch and hang it up in the house somewhere).

Otherwise, Goodwill is going to be the continued recipient of some of my painful lessons.

When's the last time you were burned by a FREE product?



kay in canada said:

My other half likes to say that "it's not free, it's included with purchase", meaning that somehow, someway, you're paying for it.  Also, TANSTAAFL.

September 10, 2013 5:10 PM

frugal_fun said:

Since we're cheap, we've always seem to buy houses in less than perfect condition. The former owners leave us "gifts" behind that they either overlook or plain old get bored of packing. I'll tell DH that aluminum ladder we found in the backyard (really) is what actually cost thousands of dollars and they threw in a house for free.

September 10, 2013 9:50 PM

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