I have a love/hate relationship with free.
“Order now and get a second one free.”
Free donuts on National Donut Day.
“Try Zoosk! Sign up for a free 30-day trial offer.“
They are all intriguing. And I’ve fallen for every single one of them. (Except the Zoosk one. Tim doesn’t let me date.)
They aren’t free at all. There’s always a cost.
- Free shipping: Let’s be perfectly clear. The shipping cost is INCLUDED in the price. It is not free.
- Get a second one free: This time the outrageous shipping costs are tacked on for the “free” one, making it way less than free.
- Free donuts: Okay, fair enough, no money changes hands. But do you really want to sit or stand in line with about 186 of your closest donut friends to get one single sweet treat? No $$$ but those lines are pretty crazy. See? Not so free.
- 30-day free trial. Now, I’ll grant you that some of those trials are helpful. You get a fair taste of what is available and it’s up to you to use the days wisely.
For those of you who are diligent, you cancel on day 29 1/2.
And don’t forget – in order to get those free 30 days, you must provide an email address (for your login, of course) and a credit card number (so your subscription can continue seamlessly after the first 30 days.)
So, then there are those of us who always, always, always forget. And get charged for a month of service. We come to our senses and notify them – early, of course, just to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Essentially, we use this whatever-it-is service for possibly a total of 8 days for a 30-day charge.
AND we have given them an email account number to boost their sales prospect list – and, ironically, they get it for free.
Hence the love/hate.
But it’s understandable, right? Companies do not give things away out of the goodness of their sweet corporate hearts. No they don’t.
Even the best customer gets pampered just so they will come back and keep coming back.
Free isn’t free at all. These companies hold back a little for themselves. An expectation of loyalty. The chance that we’ll forget that 30-day deadline. The personal email address of a potential customer.
But then how about what I give away?
Good golly, Miss Molly.
- When I forgive and forget, do I expect the same in return?
- When I drop everything and run, or when I promise “whatever you need,” am I just making sure that I’ll get a Yes next time I ask?
- And do I say Yes in public, but end up saying Oh, sorry, but no in private?
- Do I give because my heart is winsome and sweet? Or do I keep mental notes of nearby admirers?
Jesus said it like this: Freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)
So, when I say I want to be Jesus with skin on, I better make darn sure that my free is just that.