The word “FREE”: Freely undervalued.

Everyone likes something for nothing and some want anything and everything without paying a dime. Also in the above scenarios, each and everyone seem to think ONLY about themselves and not others. But to be fair to everyone, we need to look at it differently in a different light. Everyone need to make a living without which they cannot provide for their families. But everyone is excited by the word FREE. There is always a very long line when something is given out for free when compared to the line in which we have to pay. But what most of us do not understand is the value of time verses the value of money. We can always make money but we cannot make time. So which is more valuable? Time once lost it’s lost for ever. People stand in line for a product worth just $5.00 but do not realize that the value of their time is much more than. They could also be making much more outside the line by doing different activities and making use of this valuable finite time. Also they do not realize that, the value of that time is not quantifiable. But people still choose to follow the herd by waiting in that line for that particular product just because it is Free. So the word Free has no inbuilt value engraved in it. Since there is no value or a price tag attached to it and we do not have to pull money out of our wallet, we are willing to waste the time to get it. This tells us that we are not well educated enough on the topic of time. We have also been exploiting the word FREE to the maximum even without thinking about the consequence of our actions. Anything that is flagged Free must bring up all the red flags in my opinion, should increase our alertness to the situation and help us in keeping our eyes wide open. There are so many things happening around us to simply ignore. Only individual experiences will tell and help us learn.

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Have you seen the sign: FREE Gift with purchase. What is wrong with this sentence? Is this a bonus or an incentive to force that costly purchase in order to get the free gift? The dollar value of this gift might push me into questioning myself.

Timeline is infinite but our time is finite. It was primarily created artificially to keep track of the movement of the Sun, Stars and the Moon across the sky. Agriculture depended on it. With this came the study of climatic conditions that are suited to growing different crops year round in different parts of the World. Without this knowledge our survival would have been impossible. When clocks, timepieces and watches came into the picture, we did not have to look up instead look down on our watches to see time in a dignified manner. So when we are saying that we have some free time, are we meaning to say that this time is up for grabs to be accommodated into anyone’s schedule for the purpose of conducting business or is it considered personal time. Have we branded this time FREE because we have nothing to do at this juncture or have we branded it so because we are free to do anything with this time. So when Time is considered free, does it have any value attached to it similar to it’s application on a Free product?

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FREE is a mysterious word that has been allowed to be used so freely. It has been given a lot of freedom to be free to do whatever it chooses to do at will. Ads are targeted at individuals  who would take the bait.With the advancement of technology we are constantly being monitored by cameras at every turn. So there is no escaping it. But someone may be using that same data using facial recognition software to zero in on the buying habits of frequent shoppers and that data may be sold to retailers. In turn you may be bombarded with ads that are sent to you based on your buying history and past buying habits derived from that data center. The World is getting smaller by the minute and is advancing towards the nano scale in a rapid pace. As the speed of transactions improve and the pace of manufacturing increases, to keep up with consumer demands, Free stuff is handed out. So as the competition between retailers heats up and increase exponentially, baits are seen all over the place. Consumers pick up the scent just like sharks do and zero in on this free stuff. Once the bait is taken, people develop a subconscious obligation to make a purchase. There is also a psychology to any sale and also in the placement of products in shelves at different levels within any retail space.

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Giving some thing out for free which is given out in good faith may also be sometimes interpreted in the wrong way. Free also becomes expensive in some instances. You may even be over your budget. Such as in mail in rebates. For example, You need to pay $ 25 today as part of the promotion to purchase the product. But you will need to send back the required proofs of sale along with the receipt to get the same $ 25 back which you had paid them. In case you lose the receipt or the original bar code of the product, say good bye to your $25. Also how many people would think of sending the entire list of required documents to them at a specific address within a specified deadline. Probably a handful. Most people forget to send in. This is literally Free money to the retailer or the manufacturer. But to the customer it’s a loss that he or she has to grin and bear. At times we fall for these scams only to learn from it and not repeat it, hopefully.

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The word Free also has a very bad reputation as per quality. Cheap or free is by default labelled as inferior quality, unwanted or even considered throwaways. When we get something for free from someone, we take care of it with a completely different mindset than when and if we had paid for it.When there is a so called sale, products are marked up and sold to us. In the end they end up making their desired profit margins. Sometimes they may throw in a thing or two as a bonus or even for Free. This is internal marketing at work. This is done with the hope that you will tell your neighbors, family and friends regarding the so called Free stuff which you had received from them. So this product which we are supposedly getting for FREE has already been factored into that product price for which we have already paid for. But in our mind We are very convinced that we have got that product for FREE.

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We live in a World full of hopes and aspirations. With the advent of the internet, people have been looking out for FREE stuff on the internet browsing their lives away hours at a time just to save a few bucks. It’s not uncommon for the rich or the well educated to do the same. It’s not their fault. Our society has only conditioned us to be savers of money. But it has not conditioned us at all to put in the time to earn more. It has not taught us about the value of time. So most people behave as savers meaning in the mode to save what they have got. This has stagnated them in the middle class with a classic middle class mindset. This has led to the creation of a separate industry catering to the needs of these people, which may include coupons, flyers, online and direct mail.

FREE is relatively loose and happens to be free as well. With it’s application extending into all kinds of businesses far and wide, my only hope is that we don’t misuse it in different contexts leading to the devaluation the word Free. In the end Free may have no meaning at all but only as a word.


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