Free Laptop Nation: How Free Is It?
NOTICE: Before reading this post, I strongly suggest skipping over to read my article “How to Get Laptops and Plasma TVs for Free” first to understand some of the terminology I use and my method for getting “free” goodies.
Recently, I was surprised to hear an advertisement by FreeLaptopNation.com on the radio. I’ve honestly never heard one of these sites openly advertise except through spam mail. I decided to do my own research into their offers and see how they matched up to my experiences when I got 2 other laptops for “free” (again, see my instructional post). Below you’ll see a full rundown of the offers, terms & conditions and some sample expected costs I gathered from detailed research.
The Homepage and Laptop Selections
As of right now, Free Laptop Nation is offering 5 different laptops. Of course none of these sites ever give out the specific model information:
- Compaq Presario Laptop
- Gateway Laptop
- Toshiba Satellite Laptop
- Sony Vaio Laptop
- Apple iBook (what, not a Macbook?)
Since my current Sony Vaio laptop is getting a little run-down, I decided to opt for another Vaio. In addition to a laptop, you also choose a $200 gas card/cash card as an “added bonus”.
Also, as is my custom, I made sure to read through the entire Terms & Conditions page before proceeding. I don’t want to deal with referring others to complete the offers before I can get my laptop, but this site didn’t have that requirement. For this laptop deal, you needed to complete 10 total offers (2 from page one, 2 from page two, and 6 from page three) .
In addition (and this is something new to me), this site has a Cancellation Limitation! As you now know from reading my walkthrough, the only way to really make out on these deals is by canceling the offers within the trial periods. However, according to Free Laptop Nation’s T&C:
You will not be eligible to receive a Gift in this Promotion if, within 60 days of your Sponsor Offer Initial Transaction Date, you cancel your participation in more than two Sponsor Offers you have completed as a part of the Program Requirements (the â€œCancellation Limitationâ€). The Cancellation Limitation applies regardless of whether such limitations appear in the advertiserâ€™s terms and conditions for the applicable Sponsor Offer.
In other words, you can’t cancel more than 2 offers within the first 60 days or you’ll be disqualified! That sucks! Whether they can reasonably enforce this rule is unknown to me, but for the sake of my research, I’ll assume I need to hold onto at least 8 of the 10 offers for 60 days. We’ll see if this makes it all too costly to proceed.
Before you can get to the “advertiser offers”, you first need to go through a series of questions. The questions were pretty standard and I just said “No” to every offer. These questions have no bearing on your “gift fulfillment” (per the Terms & Conditions) so you have no obligation to accept anything at this time. Just continue on to the good stuff: the offer pages.
So here is the make-or-break part of the deal. I haven’t done any of these offers for 2 years now because every site requires me to open a car loan or buy an expensive resort package. Again, per my instructional article, I jumped directly to page 3 to see what the most restrictive and expensive offers are. Additionally, I’m required to sign up for 6 offers on page 3, so this is a big deal.
I was surprised to find a slew of offers on each of the three pages and I scrolled through to the last page. Normally there’s only about 6-10 offers on the last page, but there were 16 offers on this one. I printed out each page into a PDF file for my records (although I don’t think they would be happy with me posting the PDFs here, so don’t ask).
Next, I’m going to outline my findings, expected costs for reasonable offers and then give my verdict on whether the site is worth the hassle.
Sample Cost of Fulfilling the Offers
As I mentioned above, I always start with the offers on page 3. Some offers appear on multiple pages, so I want to make sure to do the easiest ones on page 3 because it’s so difficult to keep the costs down otherwise. I dug around on every reputable offer site to find out the total costs involved, and then tracked it all in a spreadsheet. At the end, I’ll have a single number to show how much I would expect to spend to get this “free laptop”.
One more thing before moving on. When I say “reputable offer”, I mean sites I trust or at least sites that don’t bring back results when I Google their name plus the word “scam”. For example, from experience I refuse to sign up for any weight loss or diet pill offers. These are complete and utter scams, without a doubt. Believe me on that one.
From the 16 total options, I had to pick 6 to complete. Scrolling through the list, I really only found 6 that were reasonable and trustworthy (except where noted below):
- Discover More Card – Clear: The cheapest options you have with these offers is generally to sign up for a credit card. If you’re not worried about your credit score, go for it. Usually, you need to make one small purchase or a balance transfer for the deal to count as a complete offer. Cost: Free
- Discover More Card – Platinum: Another credit card. Cost: Free
- Discover Open Road Card: Yet another credit card. Cost: Free
- HSBC Bank Card: The last credit card. Cost: Free
- Blockbuster Total Access: I was a recent subscriber, but the deal only requires that it’s a new signup. Cost: $9.99 for 1 month up front.
- Onlingo Language Lessons: This is the one offer I can’t attest to its quality because of the potential price if you don’t cancel, but since it was the lesser of the remaining evils (see diet pill comment above), I would opt for it. Cost: $6.95 for shipping up front.
Next up was page two. I found that I had less options since many of the offers I would complete on page three are also found here. I had to complete only 2 offers, and I eventually did find 2 that I would be comfortable with though:
- eMusic: I had to do some digging, but it looks like you get 50 free songs for signing up, but the lowest monthly plan after that is $5.99 per month. Cost: Free (up front)
- Gamefly: Since I have a Wii, I had thought about renting games through the mail like Netflix. However, I don’t go through games fast enough to make it cost effective, but since this is a good chance to kill two birds, I’d try it. Cost: $8.95 for the first month, up front.
Last up is another 2 offers off page one. Again, many of the offers overlapped from the other pages, and I had trouble finding a second offer (see below). I’m not sure about the one choice, but as I mentioned above, it’s the lesser of the remaining evils.
- Netflix: I probably couldn’t actually do this one if I wanted since I recently renewed our subscription, but it was the only totally trustworthy offer on page 1. Cost: $8.99 for one month up front.
- Stamps.com: I really had to do some digging to find out what the catch is with this service. Apparently it would be a free trial then cost $15.99 per month afterwards. Cost: Free (up front)
I always keep a spreadsheet of the offers, so below is the outline of each offer and more details about each:
Total Costs of the Offers
As you can see from the chart above, the up front cost to get a laptop probably valued at $1000 would be $34.98 with the offers I selected. Again, that’s just the cost I absolutely must pay to meet the basic requirements.
However, as you read above, there is a cancellation limitation, which means I need to hold onto 8 of the 10 offers for at least 60 days. That’s where they really get you. Otherwise for me, the final cost would also be $34.98. In the chart, I include the Monthly Cost after Intro to show the true cost of the services. Take note that the OnLingo service is $69.95 per month! Wow! The Total 60-Day Cost Before Cancellations is $308.60! Granted, you might want to actually keep some of these services, but only if you want to swim in movies and games and Spanish CDs.
So in the last column, I show the Total 60-Day Cost After 2 Cancellations. Right off the bat I would cancel the OnLingo deal. That’s $140 saved right there. Next, I would probably cancel Blockbuster because it’s the next highest total 60-day cost. So I would bring the final cost down to $128.72 for this “free” laptop.
The Final Verdict
For me, based on experience, spending $128.72 and a couple hours of work (total) and waiting 3-4 months for a $1000-1200 laptop (if you need one) AND getting a $200 gas card isn’t a bad deal. Like I said, I got 2 laptops this way as well as a $1000 Visa gift card. However, keep in mind that you’ll probably have to pay taxes on this “gift”. I say “probably” because it’s up to the marketer to collect your tax information before sending the gift, or then it’s up to you to claim it (which is the legal thing to do!).
However, in the end, I’m not going to proceed with this offer because I don’t need a laptop that bad, and my employer also covers up to $500 for a new one. If it was under different circumstances, and I wasn’t so lazy right now, I would go for it.
Lastly, if you’re the type who isn’t organized and on top of things (like knowing when to cancel and actually canceling), then these types of deals are definitely not for you. You would be the one in the end to spend the $308, and maybe even more, and probably forget to claim the laptop! You have to be organized, persistent and responsible to do these deals.
If you do decide to perform any of these offers, I hope you utilize my tips article as well as this article to help organize your approach and remind you of the important details and steps as you proceed. And again, always research the companies before you sign up for anything to find out what other people have to say (good or bad), and document everything! Good luck!