blogging · reviews

"Free" or "Low Cost"?

They say the best things in life are free. I think that’s true. That’s why I agreed to host a giveaway for 500 pieces of free letterhead back in October. I love “free”! I was solicited by a person from the online printing company, UPrinting.com, to host this giveaway. In fact, you can read the original post HERE.  I, personally, didn’t need letterhead. I mulled it over. I thought, hey, why not? Maybe one of my faithful readers could use some letterhead, and this is a way I could be a blessing. So, I did it.

A few weeks ago, I received an email saying that I, too, had won free letterhead for hosting the giveaway. It was a “Blog Appreciation Prize”. As I said, we didn’t need it, but it would be a bonus! I decided I would order some for our family, with both my and my husband’s names on it. I figured I’d pick from a few pre-made designs, punch in our info and be done with it.

Ah, but therein, as the Bard would tell us, lies the rub.

There were no “pre-made” designs. Each customer must design his own letterhead, and this is handled by someone else. Not only that, but if you use images for your design  (and the only ones I saw available were from iStock images) you must pay for those as well. I stopped “designing” as soon as I realized that I might have to pay. I didn’t want to pay, it was supposed to be FREE. According to the dictionary, the idiom “for free” means without charge. True, I was being charged for the design, the PRINTING was free, but the letterhead as a whole was not. This was irritating. I was led to believe the whole thing was free. I contacted the company and politely asked if I would be charged for any portion of my letterhead. This is the email I received last night:

Hi Valerie,

I received a notification from my colleague about your prize. Please be advised that the Blogger Appreciation Prize covers only the printing and shipping. The design will not be handled by us. Also, the stock images in the design tool are not also covered by the BAP. I hope that’s clear with you. Thank you for your understanding.

Best Regards,MarinelleUPrinting Marketing Team  

BAP stands for “Blog Appreciation Prize”, in case you were wondering. She says in her note, “I hope that’s clear with you.” Well, yes ma’am, it’s clear to me now. But it wasn’t from the original correspondence I received about the whole thing.

The bottom line: I will in no way endorse or ever use UPrinting. I guess I’m old fashioned. In my world, free still means “without charge”. I don’t try to bamboozle people using fine print in my everyday life. It’s called “ethics”.

But, all in all, it’s been a good experience for me. In the future, I will not sponsor a giveaway unless I can review the product beforehand to see if it lives up to what it claims. I apologize to you, readers, for being so naive.

Lesson learned. Free doesn’t always mean “free”. Sometimes it means “low cost”.

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