January 22, 2005

Free Mac Mini Deux

I posted a entry on what I thought of the new Mac Mini- and it got swamped with comments linking to free-mac-mini marketing sites. I got fed up and blacklisted all free-urls and questioned the whole legitimacy of the program.

Out of curiosity I decided to sign up with a well filtered email address and put it to the test. Prove the legitimacy once and for all. I did that 5 days ago. As of today I’ve got 8 of the required 10 referrals. That shocks me. I’m surprised 8 other people went into this program behind me. With 2 more referrals, theoretically I’ll have a free Mini. At the rate I’m going I’ll be able to confirm or deny the legitimacy of this program… and I may actually end up with a free Mini.

I still don’t understand the economics of the program. I can’t imagine that each advertiser is recouping the $50/lead. Especially eFax. Completing the eFax promotion is free. There’s no way they’re recovering their acquisition costs. If you don’t cancel after 30 days— at X cents a fax if you stay on their program— how long will it take for that to add up?

I’ll clearly document the whole process and we’ll see if you can really get something for (next to) nothing.


I bit. You should have 9 now.

Thanks Neil. I find it interesting... It's showing you as "Joined, but offer not completed"

Most referrals are that way. I wonder if they conveniently "lose or delay" the tracking of completed offers to drive you to generate more referrals to reach your gaol... that would boost the number of completed offers/user and reduce the advertising costs... .

I tried doing that callwave one because the eFax is no longer available. I registered the service with my phone, so I'm not quite sure whats going on. I'll try and read the fine print a little more.

hmm... callwave is new--free-- and it looks like it may actually be a useful service.

You may have completed the offer... I'm now thinking they hold the confirmation for a few days... that way in the end you've signed up more than 10 users.

hey neil- does your status show that you've "completed" your initial offer? You're still showing as incomplete on my end.

I'm starting to think there might be something sketchy here after all... you score 8 or 9 referrals that complete offers-- but you never get to 10-- and you never get the free item.

No, strangley it doesn't. All the requirements for the credit was I had to register it with my phone, which I've done. I noticed there was another area on the Cellwave site that wanted me to register to download the software that allows you to access via the internet, which is PC only. Now when I try to see the rules for the Cellwave via FreeMacMini I get that the offer isn't allowed anymore, so maybe that is what is going on.. So I was thinking I probably need to try another item. Lemme see what I can do

signed up for free bidding.com cause the credit was supposed to be instant. Doesn't seem to work either. I declare shenanigans. Everything else requires you to have a week with the service, or sign up for a credit card, which I'd rather not. :D

Shenanigans indeed! I think i need to take this investigation a little deeper... I'll WHOIS where they're located and try and track down any Better Business Bureau info on them.

You know it had to be too good to be true. The old saying is true- you can't something for nothin'

Well look at that, the one I signed up for yesterday.. I just got credit for. You may have 9 now, one more towards possible victory.

Now to find 10 victims.. I mean friends..

I owe you a beer Neil (and I mean that-- we should get together again with murph). You're fully signed up. Just one more and we'll see...

Well I signed up under someone else less then a week ago. I decided to do the whole DVD thing becuase I really like movies. I've got 3 people under me so far but none have completed. Also learned eBay doesn't like you putting this on their sites.

I signed up for this a week ago from somebody's sig on Slashdot. I have two sign-ups so far. On my page I've got some links to the editorial coverage on the original free iPod deal. It's legit.

As for the economics:

What's a Mac Mini wholesale for? $375 or so, I'm guessing? Add $25 shipping and handling to you and you've got $400. In other words, Gratis is paying you $40 a head ($400 / 10 signups).

So if the average partner (Blockbuster, Wall Street Journal etc.) pays Gratis $50 to $60 a head, Gratis can make a nice profit.

Can companies make money paying that much to acquire a new customer? Yep. Acquiring new customers is expensive. But not prohibitively so.

If I stick with Blockbuster for two years, that assumed $60 acquisition cost works out to $2.50 a month out of the $14.99 I'm paying. Of course some people will stick with Blockbuster a lot less than two years and some may last longer but it will probably work out for them in the long run.

-- Tom Wrona

PS. Here's a bizarre footnote: I found Studio 2F when I was investigating some hits I got on my Mac Mini page from Google. As it turns out I'm #8 out of 216 pages that Google returns if you search for "FreeMacMini". But get this, I'm in the top 50 sites that Google returns if you search for "Free Mac Mini" (without the quotes). And that's out of 3, 770,000 pages! After one week. Go figure.

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