Ok, this all started about 2 months ago when Jude and I were toying with the idea of getting me a new computer with our tax refunds. The Powerbook I have now was his and it's getting old. Besides it was a refurbished product when we bought it more than 2 years ago and it's been going all slow on me lately... Then he told me that someone in SI had gotten a brand new Macbook Pro for next to nothing and I was skeptical, but intrigued... I didn't think it was possible, but apparently it is. Ladies and gentlemen, my brand new 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM, 80G MacBook:
So this is how it works: via Josh Clark, the guru of all things free on the Internet, I got my new computer through ShopFreePay.com, a site that looks like a thousand other scam sites. But unlike other sites that get you to recommend three friends to sign up, and then another three friends after that before you can get your gift, SFP doesn't involve anyone else but you.
How it works:
First, you select the free product that you want. Depending on how expensive the product it, you have to sign up for X number of offers. For a MacBook, I had to fulfill 12 offers that are broken up into three pages: 4 offers on the first page, 6 on the second, and 2 on the third. A couple of offers appear on multiple pages, and you cannot complete any offer more than once. Some of them are from companies you’ve probably heard of (Blockbuster, Entertainment Weekly), some are not (I can't believe there are really such things as online psychics...) And offers on Page 3 are often either the ones which require the most initial cost, or the ones that take the longest to fulfill, like credit cards. The key is this: most of these offers are for trial, hence you should cancel them before the trial period is over. You will almost always get a refund of your money.
My Timeline for a MacBook (if you choose a cheaper gift, your timeline may be considerably shorter):
3/17: Began process; signed up for 12 offers (including one credit card application).
3/17 : Received immediate credit for 5 offers.
3/18- 4/9: Received credit for next 6 offers.
4/10: Received new credit card.
4/11: Received credit for final offer. Order goes into "ordered" status.
4/12- 5/1: Excruciatingly long test of patience...
5/2: Received W-9 form via email (if the gift you chose is worth more than $600, you are required to fill in this form for tax purposes- no biggie)
5/6: Received phone-call from UPS to expect overnight delivery the next day and to be present to sign for the package.
5/7: UPS drops off my brand new MacBook at 5.42pm!
Altogether, I initially forked out $448.95, but got $337.47 back in refunds. Add the cost of shipping a few of the items back ($16.00 to the dot) and the grand total spent was $127.48, for which I received five bags of coffee, two weeks free movie rentals from Netflix, a stack of Disney books, one free issue of Entertainment Weekly (before I canceled the offer), one video teaching me FrontPage, one teaching me Spanish, and another to help me get started on my own eBay Marketplace account, and a brand new 80G MacBook. To purchase this particular model from Apple directly, it’ll cost you a cool $1,299.
- 2-3 hours spent completing offers (this takes some time because you want to review all the Terms and Conditions carefully, especially their cancellation policy);
- time spent on the phone and online canceling trial memberships (be nice to the customer service people and they won't give you a hard time. I always start by remembering their names and asking them how their day has been...);
- an hour or two packing and shipping returns (including trips to the post office); and
- a bunch of time spent obsessively checking my e-mail account and member page on SFP for updates.
So in total, probably 10-15 hours altogether (20hrs max), but spread over a month and a half so it really isn't that much in the larger scheme of things.
To find out more on how you can begin your own ShopFreePay endeavor, go to Josh Clark's site, in particular, here and here. BUT, I'm not saying that this is always going to work for everyone- YMMV (a.k.a your mileage may vary) so this not an endorsement of any sort. Try anything at your own risk. So there, some of these "free"-gift sites are genuine. Just be careful, read everything, and be patient... Very patient.