(This post is not a spam and numerous people with time on their hands have tried this successfully. With that I will I’ll stop defending the legitimacy of this post.)
This was by far the most shady project I had undertaken, but my thought was that an investment of ~$400, could have an upside of $2000 in return. I also knew of a good friend who had successfully received his MacBook Pro (MBP) for $200. My work was not so busy and I was waiting to start with the business school, so I had some time to spare. With this thought, I embarked on this journey sometime in late April.
The summary of the project was – enroll in one of the “get a free macbook pro” offers, read the terms and conditions, re-read the terms and condition, and read them one more time, buy some products, stay enrolled for as long as needed, cancel the offers, fill some more stupid forms and get your MBP. For the benefit of folks stopping by to read about this saga…here are some timelines.
- 4/23 – Registered a new email address. You don’t want to use any regular email for such an offer. This HAS to be a spam email address. even today I get about 70-80 spam email messages every day.
- 4/25,26,27 – Read the terms and conditions. I really read them more than 3-4 times to make sure there were no big loopholes. I kept a copy of the terms and conditions of the program. For my offer, I had to sign-up / buy 21 products and was allowed to cancel only 2 within 60 days. Reading this multiple times also let’s this thing sink in and you realize whether you want to take this highway or not…
- 4/28-4/29 – Made a spreadsheet of the offers that I would enroll in. I started with the Platinum offers, and worked backwards to Gold and Silver offers. Many of the offers are repeated in all the stages, so you want to be careful. My spreadsheet contained the expected $$ each offer would cost me for the required enrollment time. At the end of this analysis, I realized that if I was very careful I could get an MBP for about $400. I also did a worst case analysis that if I slipped by a month on all enrollments, then it would cost me an additional $200 or so. (not too bad huh?)
- 4/30 – I started enrolling in the offers one-by-one, starting with Platinum
- 5/12 – I had enrolled in all the 21 offers. I could only cancel 2 to stay eligible for the offer.
- Some very important things to remember when enrolling for the offers
- Read the conditions of each offer
- Make a copy of the terms and conditions
- On the spreadsheet, maintain each time you communicated with the offering company – enrolling, calling them, sending email for cancellation, etc.
- Figure out when you can stop the offer legitimately after the minimum enrollment period. Write that date in the spreadsheet. Make an Outlook reminder.
- As soon as the minimum required time is over – call them up. Cancel.
- If you don’t cancel, then you might have to spend additional $ on sending refunds, etc. Suddenly this thing can become very stressful. Just be organized.
- 5/12- 7/12 – Keep a track of if the rewarding company (this is the company which sends you the gift, and makes money from people enrolling in the offering companies) is acknowledging the offers you have participated in. Sometimes it can take 2-4 weeks. Typically all this is streamlined, and can be tracked online. I had problems with only 2 offers that had not been reported.
- 7/20 – I got an email from the rewarding company confirming some information. I had send my tax paying status information, notarized. I sent the information the next day. You do have to pay the tax on this gift.
- 7/28 – They sent another form requesting proof of all 21 offers. I gathered all receipts, email confirmations and credit card bills to proof my legitimacy. I made this information so neat, that there was no way they could question me anymore.
- 8/10 – Yeeeaaaaahhhh!!!!! I got a brand new MacBook Pro neatly packed in the beautiful Apple packaging.
Yeah, so I guess if you can be organized and have time on your hand, these offers sometimes work. My total time would have been 50 hours or so, but its a lot of constant attention. Be ready for that. I guess the rewarding company was not too worse off- I am still using 3 of the offers. 3 out of 19 is a pretty good marketing conversion.
If you are reading so far, and would like to try it, then shoot me an email. I could send you the spreadsheet I used to track this mega-saga, and help you get your marketing dream come true 😉