|The Great PS-FREE Experiment|
|Tuesday, 08 May 2007 16:35|
Being a big fan of game consoles, and always the first kid on the block to have the latest gadget, it's understandable that everyone's favourite Jim is feeling a bit sad at not yet owning a PlayStation3. With no money in the coffers the alternative is to try to earn one through a "Referral Scheme". Sceptical but desperate, Jim signs up to see if these things are for real.
Browsing through the interweb as I often do I came across an advert offering a free xBox 360. I already own a 360, but was intrigued nonetheless so clicked on the link.
'Congratulations!' the site said before offering me a free Wii, 360, DS, PSP, or PS3 with each one given a 'level' rank (I assume the higher the level, the greater the value of the reward, as the PS3 was a 'level 4' item, and the DS 'level 1').
I already have a PSP, and a 360. The DS isn't for me, and a Wii sounds like too much hard work, so I opted for the PS3. I don't have one yet and am desperate to get the console, but just can't quite justify the expense. A free unit however, now that's a different story.
I quickly scanned the terms at the bottom of the page:
*Subject to our Terms & Conditions, receipt of your gift requires compliance with our eligibility requirements including; age and residency requirements, registration with a valid email address and password, shipping address and phone number, completion of one sponsor offer, and referring 15 friends who have to sign up and complete one sponsor offer. Only one account per person and shipping address. Members have 90 days to complete all necessary requirements to be eligible for a free iPod. Available offers will vary and some sponsor offers may require purchases to qualify. Freepay.com is an independent rewards program and is not affiliated with any of the listed products or retailers.
Knowing that these things bear the stigma of being scams, the offer of a free PS3 was just too much of a lure, and I decided to sign up, but not before creating a unique email address purely for this offer. That way I can delete the account after it's all done and not be the recipient of a tonne of spam every day. Cunning.
So here we go with:
Before I hit the register button I read through the full terms and conditions to learn exactly what I was getting myself into:
III. ELIGIBILITY FOR RECEIVING A FREE ITEM FOR gaming WEBSITES
(a) For this particular website users must do the following to be eligible to get approval to receive their free product:
i. Complete at least one offer within 90 days of a new account signup and receive credit for the offer within that timeframe. A 30-day grace period may be extended for certain offers that require a longer duration to issue credit.
ii. The number of friends you are required to refer are based on the referral levels listed below. Each referral must complete at least one offer within 90 days of the referrer’s new account signup date and receive credit for it with that same timeframe. A 30-day grace period may be extended for certain offers that require a longer duration to issue a credit.
Level 1 gift: 5 Referrals
Level 2 gift: 8 Referrals
Level 3 gift: 10 Referrals
Level 4 gift: 15 Referrals
iii. A user and his/her associated referrals must successfully complete and receive credit for at least one offer each within 90 days of the original user’s account signup date. The original user must then download and print his/her "Order Approval Form", fill it out in its entirety and mail it with a postmarked date that is no later than 30 days from the 90-day time period of his/her account signup date.
Doesn't seem too difficult.
I was presented with another form and filled in all my details, including physical address (unfortunately I couldn't just make up a house) and telephone number. I also selected a couple of offers that I was interested in, thinking this would count toward my fulfillment. Once registered it took me back to the main screen. I logged back in and a page flashed up telling me I must now sign up to an offer to start the programme running.
Hang on a second. Didn't I just opt to sign up for two offers... the opportunity to win a Golf, and the other to win a Polo? Apparently not. These were extra things, and nothing to do with the 'credits' earned through the programme.
Looking at the various different things available, (DVD rental, free Leona ringtone, "fantastic handset deals", bingo, online gambling, etc) the least offensive seemed to be free sudoku on my mobile. So I clicked the link (possibly a mistake).
A pop-up did what they do best and popped-up telling me I could expect my account to be updated with a credit within 24 hours. Yay.
I got through to another site, entered my mobile number and hit send. This took me through to a page telling me to "Text OK to 80122". Within seconds I got a text message telling me the same thing.
Just before I did, I noticed a block of text at the bottom of the page:
*Bonus sudoku is for free. Bonus sudoku will be sent the first week of subscription. This service will cost £13.50 per week until you send STOP to 80122. Start up: a sign-up fee of £3.00 shall apply. Sent text charged at standard operator fees. Min. age 16+ with bill payers permission. Celldorado operates according to the ICSTIS Code of Practice and the UK code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles. Celldorado offers innovative information and entertainment for your mobile, such as ringtones, Javagames and wallpapers. Celldorado offers original, unique services with the highest standards. Helpdesk: 0845 358 8000.
£3.00 sign up fee?! £13.50 a week?! Hardly 'free'. However, it is a lot cheaper than a PS3, and I'll text STOP later on today, after I get my Sudoku.
Bloody hell! After texting OK to the number I immediately got another text message telling me I was all signed up (joy) at £1.50 per message, 9 messages a week (so that's how they get their £13.50). I then got another message telling me I would get my 'free' sudoku tomorrow, along with an offer to join their mp3 club at £3 per week. No thanks.
A whole eight seconds passed before I got another message, again reminding me that I would get my sudoku tomorrow, and would I like to receive "The Amazing Silent Ringtone" again at 9 x £1.50. A silent ringtone? What good is that to man or beast? I won't be having that.
Completely overwhelmed by the barrage of messages, I thought this might have been a big mistake. No sooner had I thought that when I received yet another text message - my sudoku had finally arrived! This message had a link to a wap-site where I could download it. I clicked the link, and downloaded the puzzle... only to discover it wasn't an interactive game, but a mere gif! A sodding picture of a sudoku puzzle which I could probably Google and get for free. For your puzzling pleasure, here is my free sudoku:
Having fulfilled my end of the bargain and received my 'free' sudoku (via £6 worth of texts, and a £3 sign up fee) I sent the inevitable 'STOP' message.
Now, I have to put another fifteen people through that experience.
Hang on, I've had a thought: even if everyone did a full week at £13.50, that's still only £202.50 in total for a £400 piece of kit. The figures just don't add up! I'm not optimistic about getting a PS3, but will plod along nonetheless.
90 days to go.
Want to help out JimmerUK and see if this thing works?
Update: 20th August