No. of Recommendations: 1
I get offers for "free lunches" from time to time. I got an offer from my back-up credit card, which I only use if my main card is being replaced because I lost it or something. The offer was for an insurance program in case I ever move or lose my job. There is a charge for this insurance of 69 cents per $100 balance carried over. If I pay in full, there is no charge (nor any benefit). That's all beside the point, because I don't even use the card.

What sucked me into agreeing to the program was the following offer: they are sending me literature and a $15 coupon good at any gas station, and I have the right to cancel within 30 days of receiving the literature, and I'll owe nothing. I'll owe nothing, anyway, because I don't use the card. So my plan is to cancel as soon as I get the coupon, but I still have this feeling of worry that I haven't found the catch. I quizzed the salesman repeatedly. I guess at worst I'll cancel the card.

I get other offers. One was a $100 gift card to WalMart if I'd just let someone come and make a pitch for new windows "in the comfort of my own home." I decided not to bite on that because I don't want someone in my house that might be hard to get rid of, and it wasn't clear how long I had to let them stay before I could get my gift card. I'm not worried about buying new windows, just getting rid of someone. I don't like for salemen to come into the house.

I also get offers for a free dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant if I'll listen to an investment pitch. I haven't accepted that offer, either, because I think I might be impatient to leave before they'd let me. Maybe I should take the offer and bring a book. Then after I finish eating, I can just read? ;-)

So how do you gauge these so-called "free" offers?

- tmeri
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