Saturday, October 25, 2008

Two Free iPods

Several years ago a new Internet business model emerged. It is the model that allows consumers to receive free products by completing offers from third party merchants and signing up "friends" underneath you to do the same. The free products, at that point in time, included things like golf clubs, an LCD monitor and, my choice, an iPod. was the site I felt comfortable with. I chose a two week trial membership from Blockbuster's DVD rent-by-mail program. The service was quite a bit slower than the Netflix service we already subscribed to, so I cancelled it. My obligation was complete. Blockbuster paid some amount of money for the chance to earn my business.

Then I needed to find five other people to sign up and complete one offer apiece. After that I would qualify for my free iPod. I quickly got my brother and mom to sign up, more out of sympathy than anything. I don't know that either of them ever really intended to try for their own iPod. My third person took a little bit of work. My brother-in-law was not interested, but had mentioned it to his brother-in-law who, with a little bit of incentive ($$$), signed up. Incidentally, he wound up doing a whole bunch of these things and got tons of free gear (PSP, GameCube, etc.). At that point I had three people and the end looked attainable. However, I had exhausted all of the people I knew that I felt comfortable exploiting. I didn't want to ask coworkers, friends, neighbors or other acquaintances. There was still a very good chance that the whole scheme was a hoax, and a lot of people believed that. Me - I was willing to take a chance. I took precautions like setting up a new, generic, web-based email account to use for the program.

I resorted Craigslist to find my last two people. My posts kept getting flagged and removed because some people didn't read my ad thoroughly to understand what I was offering. My ad basically said I would pay them for their time and risk of completing an offer for me. I had a small, but steady stream of curious responses, but had to keep raising the ante until it was substantial enough to persuade two people to participate. I PayPal'ed the money to them and submitted my completion to A few weeks later - a brand new, free, $300 iPod arrived at my door via FedEx. Mine wasn't entirely free due to the bribes I had to pay, but it was still a steal of a deal. My iPod was the white 20 GB, monochrome model, and I was very happy with it.

Jump ahead to a couple of months ago. Sara's new office was hosting an open house to introduce themselves to the new neighborhood. They wanted music and Sara was put in charge of it. We'd do this all the time at home when we were hosting some type of gathering - create a playlist on the iPod then plug it into the whole-house speaker system. Everything was great at the open house until "someone" decided to set the iPod in a precarious and insecure position high atop one of the speakers that were brought in for the event. Apparently iPods aren't designed to withstand a six-foot drop onto concrete.

That same week I got a solicitation in the mail from KeyBank. It was offering a free 4GB iPod nano to new customers that opened a checking account and met certain transactional requirements. I saw no downside. It wouldn't cost me to open or maintain the account. And I was going to use the specified banking services anyway, whether it was through Key or my regular bank. In other words, aside from jumping through a few hoops, the impact to me would be extremely small.

So, all online, I transferred $500 to Key to open a new account. The offer stipulated that I needed to make one point-of-sale purchase using the debit card. That was easy enough. Additionally, I needed to transact any two direct deposits or two electronic payments or one of each. I wasn't prepared to change my direct deposits to Key, but the electronic payments was a piece of cake. Normally I use BillPay, exclusively, to pay bills. Key wanted me to provide my payees with my account information and have the payee draft the money from my account. That was okay with me. I picked two non-critical bills that offered that payment option and set them up. 

That was it. I just had to do those three things before the end of October to meet the requirements of the offer. The Terms and Conditions stated that my iPod would be shipped within 90 days of the end of the promotion. I set a mental timeline of the first of the year. Just a few days after completing the three requirements, the Manager of the local KeyBank called me to let me know I had qualified for the iPod and could expect to receive it by November 5th. Sweet! 

In the meantime, Apple announced upgrades to their entire iPod product line. The nano got a redesign, memory increase, and a larger video screen, in addition to several software changes. I figured beggars can't be choosers, and if I was happy with the old nano a month ago, I should still be happy with it; and I was.

On October 1st I got an email from FedEx advising me that my iPod was being shipped that day and to expect it on October 3rd, our last day in town before leaving for Disneyland.

The tiniest of packages arrived around mid-day. It was literally inside a small bubble-wrap-lined yellow envelope. Much to my delight, they sent me the latest and greatest. Instead of 4GB, I got 8. I got the larger video screen. It even has an "excelerometer" inside that responds to movement and orientation (Want to mix up the songs? Shake the iPod like a Polaroid picture.) And I got it a full month sooner than promised and four months sooner than I had originally expected. And I've diversified my banking servicers just a smidgen.

Sara is forgiven.

1 comment:

Lainie said...

I kept reading on to see if something HUGE was gonna didn't. OK free stuff is cool but it still cost a price - your time and creativity (and a few $bribes!). You are indeed, very clever! Free is always the best price! Is that whole internet referral thing why you didn't want to look at Quixtar?? Very interesting...;0)!!