Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

When is free not free? Dishonest and misleading advertising!

Free is not free pretty much always. Case in point: I usually stop by Blockbuster video every now and then to look at games, not because I would actually ever buy their over-priced new and used games, but because I’m a geek, and I pretty much stop at any store that sells games or gadgets just to get a quick fix of what’s new.

I saw the “free game when you trade in 4” all over the place like you usually do at Blockbuster. Then it said something like ask an associate for details. So I walk up and say how does the trade in work and can I use Wii games too; the guy says yes, you can trade them in. I don’t usually trade in my games, and I probably should do it sooner and more often since I’m usually left with a huge pile of worthless games I’ve finished. I’m a bit of a pack rat though. Anyway, I figured hey, why not.

So I scrounge up 4 games that I am pretty sure I’ll never play again and walk into the store and trade them in. The lady gives me a “trading agreement” to fill out and sign, and I do so. She then starts doing something on the computer and makes a call. Once I’m done filling out the agreement she tells me that none of my 360 games are accepted for this deal, they are not worth the minimum which was 14 dollars or something like that. I’m thinking wow, 14, add that up and it’s 56 dollars. Now if I were to bring in newer games the chances of me finding 4 that are worth 14 it’s highly unlikely, some might be 20 or more. Pretty much makes the deal useless since I could get more if I Just sold them separately.

Anyway, I’m not naive, I know that companies are out to make money, and I’m fine with that, I even wondered how Blockbuster could have such a great deal like this. Turns out they can’t, and that’s where I get annoyed. I’m so sick of misleading advertising. Huge posters saying 50% off all jeans and then in seven point font, new arrivals not included. Look people, it’s either a free game when I trade or it’s not, and the “ALL JEANS” means all jeans. If it’s not, stop trying to fool your customers, it only angers them. Let’s just ignore the fact that trading 4 games kind of negates the term free! Last time I checked free didn’t mean you had to give something in return, but I digress.

I know the small print, the misleading “ask a representative” or the all mighty tiny asterisk is suppose to clue us all in that something is amiss and make all well, but this just annoys me more, and when I get annoyed enough I usually complain about it to a lot of people and then avoid the company for awhile. I like honest companies, if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is, and the company isn’t worth wasting your time on. This is one of the reasons I’ve started shopping at smaller independent stores lately, in general I find them more human, but the jeans example was actually a small store, so there are always exceptions.

A similar issue with Indigo books made me switch to independent book retailers. I had one of those 25 dollar irewards cards that allow you to save 10%. Then Indigo had this super sale and I went to use my card and they said I couldn’t. Why? I paid for it. So basically if I shop the big sales I can’t use my card and they pocket 25 dollars. It even says on the card that it includes sales, but if you read the fine print terms & conditions it says “except during selected promotional periods”. No thanks, stop trying to rip us off, and don’t even get me started on expiring gift cards.

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