A reader from Philadelphia named Erin asks:
“I saw an offer online to get a free iPad. Is this a scam?”
I took a look at the web page address you sent me Erin, and in all likelihood its a legitimate offer, but you’re going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to get it.
As I said, you’ll have to jump through some hoops — 10 of them to be exact — in order to qualify. Here’s some more fine print:
To obtain the gift for this promotion you must:
1) register with valid information including e-mail address, shipping address, and phone number
2) complete the survey
3) complete at least 2 Silver, 2 Gold and 4 Platinum Sponsor Offers
4) be a U.S. resident 18 or older
5) not cancel your participation in more than a total of 2 Sponsor Offers within 6 days of the Sponsor Offer Initial Transaction Date
… Some Sponsor Offers may require a purchase to qualify.
Basically you’ll be giving away a lot of personal information such as addresses, emails, and phone numbers.
They will send you email.
They will call you by phone.
And you will shell out some cash. Not for the iPad. The cash will go to cover the shipping, handling, and subscriptions fees for some of the offers you will be required to accept.
I checked out the Silver, Gold, and Platinum offers, and here’s what will be asked of you:
The Gold and Silver Offers require you to either apply for a credit card or a credit report (and doing so might affect your credit rating). Or you might be asked to refer one of your friends to this program (which might cost you a friend). Or you might choose to subscribe to DVD subscription service. There were many other options, and they were all similar to the ones I’ve mentioned here. They require you to complete 2 Silver Offers and 2 Gold Offers to be eligible for the iPad.
The Platinum Offers , of which you must complete 4, involve more of the same, with some additional offers for dental health plans, air purification systems, and diet programs.
Is it worth it?
I don’t think so.
Why do they do this?
The folks offering you the free iPad are getting paid referral fees and incentives from the various service providers connected to the Silver, Gold, and Platinum offers. Some of these providers will pay as much as $30 t0 $80 for a legitimate email address or phone number.
A lot of people are going to get tired of trying to complete all the offers, and they’ll come up short, but the “free iPad folks” will still get their referral rewards. The number of people who fail to meet the requirements will outnumber those who complete the requirements. By then they’ll have made enough in referral fees to by half a dozen iPads.