Free Ain’t Free … Unless It’s Free …

The Charlatan - Pietro Longhi 1757

Mini-Rant Warning …


TO:  Advertisers, marketers, salespeople, and anyone else who tries to convince people that something is available without cost.


I just saw an advertisement for a large chain store, which will remain anonymous.  Not because I do not have the urge to shout their name from the rooftop, but because what they do is not unique to them and I do not wish to provide them with extra advertising.

Buy Two, Get One Free!

Now I am a fan of “Free” … as my sagging bookcases and bulging computer files will attest, to say nothing of my constant battle of the waistline.  Free is the Holy Grail, after which I quest without tiring.

However, “Free” has to really mean “Free”, as in no cost, no catch, no hidden fees.

When you have to buy 2 of something to get another one “Free”, you are not getting Free.  You may be getting reduced price per unit, you may be getting cheaper, you may even be getting a great bargain, but you are not getting Free. 

If you don’t believe me, walk into a store that advertises “Buy 2, Get One Free” and try to claim just the third “free” item.  Go ahead … I’ll wait patiently to hear about your experience.

If they had only said “Buy 3, Cut Your Price!”.

Just curious (OK, curious and a bit cranky) this bright June Monday morning …

How do you react to this type of advertising? 

How do we promise one thing, but really deliver another?

What works most effectively to get you to buy?

Feeling a tad irritated as I await responses in the Heartland ….



Image:  The Charlatan by Pietro Longhi (1757)  via Wikipedia