Buyers’ Beware- Is it really “Free”?

We are inundated with advertisements for “Buy One, Buy Two, Buy Three and Get one Free” or “33% More Product for Free”! How dumb do these guys think we are? …We’re probably better off not knowing the answer to that question!

When a company puts something on sale or offers something for free, they are most certainly factoring the cost of that product into what you have to purchase in order to get the free item. Or they have a surefire strategy in place to recoup the money they are losing by providing their product or service at no charge.

As a business owner you are constantly approached by suppliers that want you to use their products or services and theirs alone. What better way to guarantee your loyalty than to offer you something for “free” and put you in a position where you can’t get what you need from anyone else besides their company?

A perfect example of this is restroom dispensers. Paper towel, toilet tissue, hand soap, even air freshener refills are being created in a way that if the company “gives” you the dispensers you have no choice but to use their products. Manufacturers do things like use different core sizes or no cores at all on paper goods or place grooves on the sides of the paper. They even make the opening to the soap or air freshener refill a little bit different shape than a normal one so they don’t work in anything else. “But they gave me free dispensers!” you say. Even though you may not pay for these dispensers up front, over the long term you most definitely are paying for them sometimes two, three even ten times over! All they do is take the cost of the dispenser and build it into the price of the product. Companies also generally require you to lock into a one, three or even five year iron clad contract!

To truly get the best value, the best price and the best product steer clear of proprietary products.  Paper products, etc. and their dispensers that are designed to be universal will help you save money as well as avoid the potential shortages when a proprietary product changes, goes out of production or has unexpected supply shortages. Companies offering universal dispensers are willing to take the risk of you going elsewhere for your supplies, but at the same time determined to prove worthy of your business by always making sure that you get the service you deserve and the products you want at a price you like.

So when a company puts something on sale or offers something for free, should you always steer clear? Definitely not! The most important thing is that you know that sometimes one company’s everyday low price may be just as good if not better than someone’s special offer. Knowledge is power and when it comes to spending money, you need all the power you can get!

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