I got tired of seeing everyone on the train
with their smug looks and their iPod tunes. On a related note, I also got tired of seeing all those "free iPod" ads taunting me with the prospect of having that smug look myself without spending a dime. The free iPod Photo: can it be done?
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I imagine many of you have had similar thoughts. So I set out on the adventure of a lifetime. I tried to get a free iPod. I started with my sights set big: the free iPod Photo, with 60GB of music, photos, and more. I found an ad for it on a sports Web site, I clicked, and I was in. The annoying survey
The first part was easy, if tiresome. I had to respond to a so-called brief survey of about 30 or so questions. Each one asked if I wanted to try out some product or other as a special offer. I just said no. It took a while, but so far, so good. Special offers: part one
Then I got to a page of special offers. I had to respond to 3 out of the roughly 10 offers on the page. They were all from reputable companies, although some of them did require payment. I avoided the ones that cost money. I signed up for a credit card, a free trial with an online video game service, and a free trial with an online faxing service.
I would have to remember to cancel all these memberships before they passed the trial phase, but I figured that was worth it for the iPod. At the bottom was some language that I was on my way to my Free iPod Photo. How exciting. I clicked Next. Special offers strike back
Then I experienced a sense of déjà vu. I got a page of about 10 offers from different marketers and was asked to complete 3 of these offers as well. It was then I noticed a small note that I was on page 2 of 3. So I needed to do one more page. It's a 60GB iPod, I thought. Why not?
I signed up for a trial with a home-products discount service that cost me a dollar, a free language CD that cost me $7 shipping, and a trial video service. I'd spent 8 bucks and would have to remember to cancel six services, one of which was a credit card. Still, it's a free
iPod Photo, right? I clicked Next, and guess what I found. The return of special offers
Page 3 of 3--I have to complete just one of the following offers: Sign up for a satellite TV service. Sign up for dental insurance. Sign up for a VoIP phone service. I can't do any of those because I already have all three. Maybe I don't have them from these companies, but come on. No iPod Photo for me. A new beginning
However, I was led from that site to the more common freeipods.com site. This site asks you to complete only one offer, although you have to wade through the endless optional survey first. I responded to one more free trial and was presented with confirmation that I was qualified to get a free 20GB iPod. I only had to wait for one more thing to happen. I needed to refer five friends to the site. As soon as they completed a special offer, I would get my iPod. In other words, not only did I have to prevail on five people to visit the site, they also had to sign up for some kind of free trial or paid offer. It wasn't worth risking friendships with casual personal spamming, so no iPod for me. I suppose I could have tried to game the system by signing up fake people, but that has legal implications I wouldn't want to deal with.
The first network offering the free iPod Photo was a company called the Incentive Rewards Center (operated by Niu Tech
). Somehow I got from there to a company called Gratis Internet
, where I tried for the free iPod. Both companies have unresolved complaints with the Better Business Bureau. I know of at least one person who got a free iPod from the Gratis Network. Most of the complaints are about shipping.
In sum, this is not a scam. You can
get a free iPod from Gratis Networks. It may not be entirely free, as you have to spend time and, in some cases, money on special offers. However, the risk of forgetting to cancel a membership and just the effort of tracking them all are not worth it to me. It may be worth it to you, but at least you can go in forearmed with knowledge.
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