Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sweet Home Entertainment

A couple months ago Eric Smith stretched his budget to buy a nice TV. He had a 30 day trial period and decided over that time that he couldn't justify the cost. But he had gotten used to the nice TV so he set out to find a way to get a nice TV without paying so much. His solution was to take a chance on one of those internet offers you see so often that blinks at you and says "congratulations, you've just won a free [fill in the blank]." Long story short, 2 months later he had a 42 inch Plasma TV for the small cost of about $200.

After hearing his story I wanted to get in on the action. As I'm sure you've guessed, those "congratulations you win" sites don't really mean you've won anything, they are just another form of advertisement. The way it works is they will give you a free TV {or other electronics) but you have to work for it. In order to receive the free gift, you have to complete a whole bunch of online offers. For the TV this is how it went:
1) First I had to fill out and get approved for 3 offers from a list of about 50 ranging from credit reports to AOL. Many of these had free trial offers and it was easy to find 3 to complete.
2) Second I had to fill out and get approved for 6 offers from a list of about 25. This page had some of the same offers as page 1 but also some others that were more expensive like diet pills or online movie rentals (netflix or blockbuster). It wasn't too hard to complete these 6 but I had to spend $5-$10 on each of them.
3) Third I had to fill out a get approved for 9 offers from a list of about 15. About half of these were credit cards (free but you can only get so many) and the other half were more expensive offers like a dental plan or Earthlink DSL. I had to be careful which ones to do here so that it didn't cost me too much.

The website giving the TV away got paid by the 18 advertisers I had to do business with. The trick is to do the offers that cost the least and to make sure you cancel all the free trial periods in time. It is definitely a bit of work and a lot of annoying 1800 phone calls to customer supports in order to cancel the trial offers but boy was it worth it. On Friday afternoon, after 2 months of working the system I had a 42" Plasma TV delivered to my front door. It is awesome. I spent just over $220 but $120 was for a dental plan which replaced my plan through work that cost the same, and I also got $50 worth of gift cards in the process so my net cost was well below $100. If anyone is interested in doing the same thing, check it out at this site.



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