Free Laptop Scam?
Today a flashing popup appeared on my screen saying I was the 999,999 visitor and I should claim my free laptop. I was afraid to click on it, because I assumed it was a scam or possibly a virus/spyware trap. But I guess anything is possible... is there any truth to this free laptop thing?
News Flash: You Didn't Win a Free Laptop!
You were right to be wary of an offer like this. On a very basic level, people just don't give away free laptops out of the goodness of their hearts. So that should be enough to set off the red flags. I decided to dig in to the details of the free laptop offer and find out how it works.
The good news is that clicking on this oh-so-tempting popup will not immediately flood your computer with viruses and spyware. Whew, that's a relief. And as far as I can tell, this is not a scam. But if you had any hopes of simply filling out a form, then camping out on the front porch in anticipation of seeing the UPS guy arrive with your shiny new laptop, you're going to be disappointed.
Here's what I discovered... To qualify for your Free Laptop, you must complete each of the following steps:
- Complete a Registration Form which includes your name, address, email address, date of birth and home phone number.
- Complete an "optional" Special Offers Survey.
- Participate in and satisfy a total of 13 Sponsor Offers.
- Print and keep all correspondence proving that you completed the sponsor offers, just in case one of the sponsors fails to notify the company that you have completed the required offers.
What Happens Next?
So what happens after your fill out the form, complete your surveys, participate in the sponsor offers, and duly catalog your correspondence?
Let's start with the registration form. The form says that any information that is untrue, inaccurate, or incomplete may disqualify you from eligibility to receive the Free Laptop. So be careful on that keyboard. And at the bottom of the form it says that by filling it out, you are "expressly requesting a phone call, pre-recorded message, SMS text and/or email from a list of Marketing Partners." Sounds fun so far right?
Moving on to the Survey Questions... things get a little fuzzy here. First is says that the surveys are optional -- you can answer or skip all offers that are presented following the registration form. But then it says you MUST answer all of the yes/no questions on the "Special Offer Survey" page that also follows the registration form. The silver lining: failure to express interest in any special offer on the survey won't disqualify you for the Free Laptop offer.
Now about those Sponsor Offers... To quote my father, who was paraphrasing Shakespeare, "Therein lies the rub." It turns out that in order to qualify for the free laptop, you'll have to sample or purchase certain products, and take other actions such as applying for a loan, or a credit card. The rules may further require you to use a credit card to make a purchase, take a cash advance, or transfer a balance, to satisfy a Sponsor's qualifications. And you must complete all thirteen of the sponsor offers within 180 days.
In summary, here's how it's supposed to work. You do all of the above steps, Platinum Giveaways gets a commission from the sponsors, and then they send you a laptop. A win-win for everyone? Maybe.
Here's the bottom line. If you are willing to give an untold number of marketers permission to mail, email, call or text you at any time, for almost any reason, then this offer might be for you. If you are willing to spend up to six months completing 13 special offers, each of which is likely to cost you money, then this might be for you. And if you are willing to trust that the company running this promotion will not go out of business in the interim, and that they will in fact send you a laptop, then this might be for you.
Personally, I see a lot of room for error in the process. At best, it sounds like you're opening yourself up to a massive influx of ads directed at your mailbox, phone, and inbox; and a frustrating ordeal that's likely to end in a "gotcha" scenario. Even with a happy ending, it wouldn't qualify as "free" by my reckoning. For those reasons, I'm not going to try it. But if you've gone through the process and you did in fact get a laptop out of the deal, please do let me know!
Do you have something to say about the free laptop offer? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 27 Apr 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Laptop Scam? (Posted: 27 Apr 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved