The Cost of Free

Free: Is there a more misleading word in the English language? Free no longer means without cost. It has come to be attached to gift with purchase or buy one, get one. Hey! Sign up for your free copy of a newspaper you could read online; then receive endless newspaper, credit card and not so special offers for the rest of your life. There is something not-so-free about free. But that doesn’t diminish our addiction to it and its implied value.

We live in a free society. With freedom to choose freely. Though the cost of trying, buying or using free is higher than we estimate. Receiving a free coupon for our favourite items: that’s rare. But would be great. Using free services; but there is nothing you can do about the quality. Complain all you want. And I can’t remember the last time I really enjoyed a free sample; be it gum or shampoo. Rushing out to clear the shelves. Obsessing over the next time I would be lucky enough to find it available. Most often it’s the exact opposite. In recent memory, I’ve received free passes to classes where the disinterested teacher disregarded my questions and taunted my interest. Well, now I can understand why they had to give these passes away. If I had paid to be treated like that I would’ve been PO’d. Oh and let’s not forget about online; it’s a haven for all things free trial, free one time use and free membership. But truly what is the cost? My personal information passed around to the highest bidder. The only list I agreed to be on was the do not call list.

Over the past 30 years I have received totes, water bottles, pens, note pads, buttons and t-shirts. These gifts are never actually for me. They are advertising my tastes in products and my affection for special events. These items come from a catalogue with a title like: your name here or branding for dummies. And even though I know each of these gadgets and do-dads are going to break, spill or split at the most in-opportune time, I still wear, use and damn them for it. I’ve been given free concert and event passes. Though that was typically because I knew an organizer and asked for them, so I might consider those gifts more than free giveaways. My Papa Bru is a fan of saying nothing is free. I agree though I might even go as far as saying that nothing worth having, keeping and loving is free, except love, and even that costs something.

The Cost of Free

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