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Finances & Money

How I Get Laptops and Plasma TVs for Free

Sony VaioHow many of you get those spam emails with “Your $1000 Home Depot Gift Card is waiting for you” or “Click here to pick up your free 42″ Plasma TV”?

I did, and I got 2 Sony Vaio laptops and a $1000 Visa gift card out of it.
Plasma TV
You see, not all of those emails are scams. And this article is going to give you a little insight into how these sites work.




How I got started
Two years ago, a coworker tried out some offers for a free XBox and Apple iPod. He had to complete 4 advertiser offers for each “gift”, but he did the offers and eventually got the Xbox and iPod. I decided to give it a shot too.
 
I immediately went for the big stuff. My first offer was a Sony Vaio I received in my Hotmail account. I looked at the terms and conditions and I only had to complete 6 offers with no referrals. Looked good to me!

How do these things work?
I’ll try to run down the basics for you. Each promotion site is slightly different:

  1. Most sites require you to complete a certain number of advertiser offers. I’ve seen them vary from 2 to 20 required offers. You have to pay for these advertiser offers, but they’re usually 7 or 30 day trials, which you can cancel at any time and just pay shipping or for one month of the product. Other offers could require you to complete an auto loan, buy furniture, or sell your first child. I’ll give you some tips on this later.
  2. In addition to advertiser offers, some sites also require that you refer a certain number of other participants. This means you need to get friends, family or strangers to sign up for the same deal as you. Plus, you have to wait till they complete their offers before yours is finalized. Always avoid offers that require referrals!
  3. These sites also require you to sign up with your name, address, phone and email, and then “fill out a brief survey”. This survey consists of numerous screens of “Do you want information about Student Loan Consolidation” or “Do you like coupons”. Just click No for everything and get to the good stuff.
  4. These sites make their money from the advertisers. The advertisers make their money from the shipping on free samples (that cost almost nothing to make), but mostly from people like my sister who signs up for Columbia House and keeps forgetting to cancel the Featured Selection!

Product Test Panel

How do I pick out the safe sites from the scam sites?
The providers of these “free” offers are getting trickier and more strict, so they’re always changing tactics. However, these few tips should always help make the search a little safer:

  • Whether you get an offer via email or browse directly to a site, check the Terms and Conditions FIRST and read it COMPLETELY. The T&C will tell you how many offers you must complete and whether you need to get referrals. Also, it should provide some methods to check your account and maybe how to contact the site owners.
  • Google the name of the site. For example, “Product Test Panel” or “Consumer Incentive Promotions”. You’re bound to pull back some listings on Scam.com and other sites. Don’t let this deter you. Read all that you can about the provider and make your best judgment on how reliable and trustworthy they may be.
  • Finally, look up the site on the Better Business Bureau’s official site. Most providers have multiple aliases, addresses and phone numbers. Jot down the company’s information and then test out those phone numbers. If you get a live person, great! But, most likely, you’ll just get a voicemail. Leave a message to see if they’ll get back to you. Just tell them “I’m interested in your free promotion, but I want to make sure I can contact you in case there are issues. Could you please call me back or email me at …?”

My methods to beat their system
I’m not the most diligent person with regards to keeping track of information, except when it comes to money. I don’t want to get shafted out of hard-earned money, so here are my methods:

  1. I verify the site credentials as stated in the above section
  2. I obtain a screenprint of every web page they give me, except the survey pages. I personally print the pages as PDF files, but you can also accomplish the same task with screen prints. The important pages are the homepage, Terms and Conditions, and each offer page
  3. I view the offers on ALL the offer pages BEFORE I sign up for anything. That way, I can see whether the offers will be too steep to complete or aren’t worth the promotional product. The sites let you advance through the offer pages and return to prior screens.
  4. I complete the prescribed numbers of offers presented on each offer page. For a 6 offer promotion, I usually get sent to 3 pages, where I complete 2 offers per page. The first page has the inexpensive offers with free trial periods. Each successive page has more expensive or more difficult to fulfill offers.
  5. As I complete each offer, I add the offer details into a tracking spreadsheet. You can download a sample spreadsheet here. I completed this spreadsheet for a Plasma TV. However, I decided to take a $1000 Visa Card instead
  6. I make sure to complete all the offers in one session, and I don’t delete my browser cookies. Many of the promotion sites use cookies to track who you are and what promotions to show you, as well as to display your account. Just try not to delete your cookies until you’ve complete all the offers and made first contact with the promotion team.
  7. Once the offers are completed, I keep checking my account daily to see when the offers are validated. In all 3 times I did these promotions, some offers didn’t report back to the provider site, so I had to fax proof of the offer completion.
  8. Also, and most importantly, I make sure I cancel any and all offers I completed before their trial period ends. Some offers also require you to return the product for credit, so make sure you do, and send it via certified mail.

How much have I spent on these promotions?

  • Sony Vaio PCF-V505ECP Laptop = $95 (my daily laptop)
  • Sony Vaio VGN-FS790B Laptop = $30 (Clever Dudette’s laptop)
  • $1000 Visa Gift Card (was for a Plasma TV) = $300 (Bought a new grill, pressure washer, and curio cabinet)

Total Cost = $425. For about $3600 worth of stuff, not a bad deal. However, these deals count as gift income and you’ll be required to pay income taxes on the retail value. However, not all promotion sites follow through with the paperwork. Read into that as you wish…

When I come across a good offer, I’ll present a walk-through on this site. I thought I had a good one with Product Test Panel, until I viewed the final offer page. They only gave 3 offers, and I had to complete 2. Only one of the offers would have cost me less than $1500. Definitely not worth it!

So, if you follow my tips and methodologies, keep all records, and follow up consistently, then you could score yourself an “almost free” Plasma TV, Gift Card, Laptop, or even a Vespa Scooter!

Have any of you completed these deals? Have you been scammed? Are you like my sister and forget to cancel the offers?

About the author

Clever Dude

88 Comments

  • Jordan, I’m sorry but these offers don’t generally have direct links to share. You just have to be lucky enough to get one of their spam emails or find a reputable site through search.

  • i really required a laptop and donot have money to buy can any one help to get a free laptop . i am a student in india , studying automotative manufacturing. please help me …………

  • i have invented something new to make the plasma tv’s look beeter but i don’t have a plasma so i can biuld a set-up, take pictures to be able to show these companies when trying to present/sell item. Is the a way to get a complimentry just for that purpose

  • I completed one of these offers for a $100 gift card for some music. The offers were mostly free, except for a sign-up for a book club that included a purchase. After several months of badgering the company about getting my gift card, they told me that they would send me a check instead. I got the check… but it was never signed. My bank wouldn’t accept it. It kind of put me off of these offers, but after your article, I have renewed interest.

  • Thanks for the informative post. I did one of these a year ago for an iPod, but they ran out of them and sent me a $350 check instead. Recently I have been hearing about a dozen radio ads every day touting free laptops, and I think I’ll give it another shot. The fulfillment offers weren’t too bad, I think I signed up for Blockbuster, a Discover card and something else I actually wanted to try. I recall some problems getting things verified (as J2R eluded to in #55), but in the end it was worth waiting for. Apparently, despite some people (albeit legitimately) working the system, it’s an effective business model – otherwise these offers would have ended long ago. The radio ads all mention different web sites, but I’m sure they are all the same outfit, just playing them off as competitors to draw more interest. Lots of great advice here – as with any transaction you enter, be sure to read all the fine print!

  • I dont think walking someone through how to get a gift for free constitutes fraud, at least in a court of law.
    You can make general comments about the industry
    and how to do something as long as you don’t say which offers to do at what company. And they would have to be pretty precise comments.
    Also, a person who has his free gift canceled for this activity could easily take the company to court and win, unless the company had documents supporting their claim.
    You cant have your cake and eat it to. These companies go to great lengths to deny gifts. Everything from long delays hoping people give up to changing the rules mid game to simply going out of business.
    Personally, I have gotten an ipod nano, a 42inch
    plasma tv and 2 2000dollar gift cards.
    Gotten from Trainn,EveryFreeGift and NuiTech.

    EveryFreeGift tried their hardest to help me give up. But I finally got my TV.

    I followed all the rules in all four cases.

    It has gotten significantly harder to do these sites from when I did them about 3 years ago. And forget about 2000 gift cards. 1000 is the max now.

    But these sites are still running and you can still do it but the rules are harder and you have to make sure you read the T&Cs.

  • I CANT TELL YOU HOW MANY OF THESE SITES I HAVE STARTED TO FILL OUT AND THEN QUIT. SOME OF THEM JUST KEEP GOING ON AND ON WITH MORE OPTIONS.
    IF YOU DONT WANT ANYTHING ON A PAGE AND GO TO “NEXT” THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT YOU HAE TO CHOOSE AT LEAST ONE BOX(CHECKED). SEVERAL OF THEM HAVE TAKEN ME MORE THAN 3 HOURS AND STILL DID NOT COMPLETE. SO I GAVE UP.

    THEY ALRADY HAD ALL MY INFO, AS YOU HAD TO FILL THAT OUT BEFORE YOU COULD ENTER, TO EVEN START THE QUESTIONS. I DONT HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME TO WASTE. IF I FILL OUT ONE AND IT TAKES UP TO 3 HOURS TO DO, I WOULD NEVER GET TO MY MAIL. MAYBE I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG, BUT IT HASNT WORKED FOR ME.

    O! I FORGOT, IT DID GET ME ONE THING FOR FREE, LOTS OF SCAM EMAILS AND ALSO MORE MAIL AT MY HOME ADDRESS FOR MORE OFFERS. GO FIGURE.

    HOWEVER, I AM NOT TOO COMPUTER SAVVY, AND I AM SO GLAD THAT THIS WORKS FOR SOME OF YU. I REALLY AM . GOD BLESS.

  • hi.i’m from iran too.how can i get a free laptop? some sites have this service but not for iran.