Yesterday, I was browsing through Facebook. I never really look at the ads on the right hand side of the page. Or rather, I should say that I never click on them. However, yesterday, my curiosity was piqued. There was an ad that I had already qualified for a free (free!) $1000 gift card from Best Buy because I was a male of a certain age. I was intrigued. Being in the antimalware space and as someone who has fought spam for years, trying to combat these annoying gift cards that plague user inboxes, I decided to click on the link. Maybe these types of ads were a way to circumvent spam filters. Perhaps social networking is the next big thing for spammers targeting users. Well, perhaps not the next big thing since they are already doing it.
I clicked on the link, and here’s where I was taken to:
“Yep,” I said, “that explains it. All I have to do is enter in my email address, be bombarded by tons of offers every day for the next 50 years, have my address sold to plenty of other folks and there we go – a free $1000 gift card!” As Milton Friedman said, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Still, I decided to read the official gift offer rules. How much was this free gift card going to cost me?
Here are the terms and conditions:
- I have to fill out a form complete with true and accurate information about myself. Fair enough.
- I don’t have to complete any Special Offer Surveys, but I do have to complete the Sponsor Offer Surveys. I have to complete 13 Sponsor Offer Surveys in order to get the gift card. And these Sponsor offers are presented to me after the Special Offer surveys. This is a little deceptive, I bet that most people will go to the first couple of surveys, get mentally fatigued and give up. “It’s not worth the effort,” they say. Of course, at this point, they have already handed over all of their details to the spammer, er, I mean marketer.
- As I said, you have to complete 13 Sponsor Offers. Oh, and get this – sponsor offers may require you to sample and/or purchase products of interest. Examples are obtaining a loan or extending your credit (including credit cards), transferring a balance or something similar. This $1000 offer is starting to get more expensive than just the cost of time and being spammed for the rest of your life.
- Once you have completed a transaction with a sponsor, you are subject to that sponsor’s rules of termination and terms and conditions.
- The sponsor has to provide proof that you have completed that Sponsor’s offer. Man, if it gets lost in paperwork (who knows how that could happen) you could be haggling for a while.
After reading through all of this, I can see that it’s not going to be worth my time and effort to go through all of these steps. I mean really, 13 sponsor offers? And I have to buy stuff? I’ll bet it will end up costing me a lot more than $1000 to extend my credit.