Having been in the industry now for 34 years, I often reflect on the people that helped me get here and influenced me. I had a mentor that once told me about TANSTAAFL – “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” The theory is that nothing in life is really free. People or companies may offer you things that appear to be free, but they are getting something in return. This is especially true in the business world. If you are offered something for “free” there is usually a hidden catch.
A great example of this is the “free phone” gimmick. Many of our competitors offer a free phone with the purchase of their service. However, they are not getting those phones for free, which means that you are paying for them somehow. They often subsidize the “free phone” giveaway with their service charges or by a “RRF” (Regulatory Recovery Fee), which is a non-government mandated fee that is added to their bill after the fact.
It’s a pretty good marketing gimmick, but it deceives the customers since the phone cost is hidden somewhere. If you read the fine print, most “free phone” gimmicks limit you to one specific phone model as the “free phone.” This is because that’s what is already built into the service fees. If you think these phones are really free, ask the company two questions: what happens to the phones if you cancel the agreement, and what is the length of the warranty.
Personally, neither I nor the company I work for has ever believed in deception. Yes, we occasionally offer a free trial or a few months at no cost to assist a customer in getting out of their contracts, but we aren’t hiding anything to the customer. If a company is offering you something free, remember TANSTAAFL. Look at the bottom dollar of all services and fees and my company is always competitive. We have never charged any non-government mandated fees and we never will. We also warranty our phones for as long as you remain a customer, not just the manufacturer warranty!
For more information on predatory business practices, here is a link that discusses some of the competitors fees: Are These Fees On Your Proposals?