Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free Government Laptops? I Don't Think So.

A patron called, all excited about the free government laptops that were being given away. Did I know about them? No, but I took a name and number and promised to call back. The UK is indeed giving laptops to school children, but I could find nothing like that in the US.

Fast forward two weeks. I'm driving to work, and hearing A VERY LOUD FAST VOICE TALK ABOUT FREE LAPTOPS. I listen to the website given, and it all becomes clear to me. It's Mystery solved.

There are, of course, no free government laptops involved here. It's a sales come-on from private companies selling something. But if you put US or federal somewhere in the title or URL, it creates a mental tie-in with the government, and might legitimately be free, and part of a giveaway. I mean, they give away cell phones, don't they? So anything's possible.

Except this isn't. It's a relentlessly pushy website that will not allow you to go further until you put in your e-mail (which means they can bombard you with annoying come-ons). And there is this, at the end of the gift rules:

"To get your gift, you must continue through the survey and complete participation requirements for sampling and purchasing products of interest."

And: "Prizes subject to availability, and quantities may be limited."

So there we have it on the table. It's free--sort of--if you take their survey and/or purchase other stuff. And are lucky. And when you want to leave the website, they ask if you REALLY want to leave. In my case, it was an easy call.

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