Yesterday out of nowhere a brand-spanking new Apple Mac Mini arrived at my office. The Mini shipped directly from Apple. Apparently— although it’s not noted in my status on their site— I’ve successfully completed the Free Mac Mini scheme.
I’ve been extremely skeptical of the whole concept of the “free” sites (see earlier program damning posts). As Duncan noted, this may be just as much a ponzi as a pyramid. I signed up for 2 free Mac Mini programs to prove or disprove their legitimacy. Here’s what I learned:
- The process took over 2 months
- The successful program did not alert me of winning a Free Mac Mini. You’d think they’d shower you with marketing materials to reinforce their plan’s benefits and rewards.
- The Macintosh shipped directly from Apple- it was not altered in any way by the marketing company (ie. no spyware or branded desktops or case modifications)
- Out of the two companies, one discredited almost all of my referrals as fraud. I find that hard to believe. After disqualifying many of my successful referrals, they prompted me to generate more referrals to make up for the lost ones. I have a nagging feeling they’re using this tactic to generate extra leads above and beyond the requirements. This would lower their product costs by increasing the marketer’s ROI.
- The successful account generated 89 referrals. Of the 89, only 11 successfully signed up for offers before my account was completed. 12.3% success rate (Fox News style margin of error: +/- 12.3%).
- Most successful referrals didn’t complete their offers for weeks- probably until their account received a few successful referrals and a free Mac Mini was within sight. So there’s a catch-22 here: Your referrals won’t complete an offer until their referrals complete and offer, and so on. Weeks after sign up I observed waves of completed offers.
- That being the case, the free Mini company may still be receiving successful referrals after my account has been closed and my offer completed.
- I personally completed my offers with the Audible.com (I happily downloaded some audiobooks for my iPod including the Daily Show’s America The Book: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy) and the free eFax offer (I have now cancelled the free eFax account).
Some notes on the very cool Mac Mini:
- The Mini’s surprise arrival caught me off guard without an extra keyboard or mouse. BYOKM. Doh!
- The thing runs HOT! I put a ThermoCron on the back vent, and it was blowing 190°F
- The DVI/VGA convertor does indeed have output or analog conversion problem. I plugged the Mini into a 15“ Sony Trinitron that is normally a second monitor to my Powerbook. The Mini (via the convertor) produced a muddy dark image. There’s more on this issue here.
As soon as I get a keyboard and mouse, I’ll put the Mini through the ringer at the Studio2f proving grounds. Thanks to everyone that supported this completely unscientific ”verification“ of the FreeMini programs. I’m really surprised it worked. After all my trash talking, I guess I owe an apology to the Free companies— however, I still find it hard to believe that this is a sustainable business model.
Best of luck to all of you on your referrals.