Free Laptop Deals: Scam Or Legitimate Businesses?

by Rod Dunne on August 18, 2010

in Articles, Hardware, Laptop

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Have you seen these free laptop deals on TV or the web and wondered how these firms are making money? Is it some sort of scam? Well, in this article we’ll give some of the background to these schemes, the legitimate business model that these firms use to make money and the dangers to look out for with these schemes.

Free Laptop Deals – The Companies

As with many businesses there will be some scam companies behind these programs. But for the most part, these firms are legitimate. A little research about the company online (addresses, customer complaints, any hint of a scam) should establish how genuine the laptop deal actually is.

Their business model is to offer products (in this instance, free laptop computers) in return for getting a lot of personal information from you. The terms and conditions usually stipulate that the company can then pass on this information to third-parties, normally for some fee (this is one way they are making their money back).

Some firms provide refurbished laptops as opposed to brand new ones. These can be in perfect working order but this fact may be buried in the small print.

Warning #1: How Much Personal Information Is Demanded?

Each laptop deal will differ, but you may need to complete an extensive questionnaire that is looking for personal information, health background, employment details, financials and possibly even family data.

Most people would be rightly concerned about how this information is going to be used, and who will be using it.

Warning #2: Where Does Your Information Go?

Any information you provide for the laptop deal can be potentially sold on to third-party companies. They may use it for market research or sales purposes. This could result in you being contacted in relation to other programs, products or services.

If you drop out of the scheme then it is standard practice for your details to be removed from the database of the scheme operator. However, your information may still exist on dozens or hundreds of third party databases.

Warning #3: Additional Program Sign-Ups

You may be expected to register or sign up to several sponsored programs before you receive your laptop. This may entail programs you have no interest in joining, that have their own subscription costs, minimum subscription periods and exit costs.

Warning #4: Refurbished Laptops

The laptop computers that are offered are generally new machines. However, some schemes may be using old or low spec models, and in some instances may even be refurbished laptops.

Free Laptop Deals – Top Tips

There is absolutely no harm researching each of these free laptop deals. If you can get a laptop for free and are happy with the terms of the deal then go for it! However, you should delve into the small print of these schemes carefully before committing.

  • Research the company online: Have they got ‘bricks and mortar’ premises? What have previous customers said about the scheme?
  • Read the terms and conditions looking for hidden costs.
  • Find out the details of pre-requisites for getting your laptop: How much personal information do you need to provide?
  • Establish what other programs, if any, you are expected to sign up to. Do these programs have hidden costs (exit fees, subscriptions, minimum sign-up contracts)?
  • Find out the specification, brand and age of the laptop being offered and look up its current market value online.

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