There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch‘ – this is an old adage. The acronym ‘free lunch’ was popularized by the mid 19th century American Saloon keepers who would offer free food to anyone who bought drinks from them. This inducement was merely to attract drinkers as customers would end up paying much more than the price of the food by the way of the price of drinks that they were obliged to consume.

This fits very well to our age as well. Everything that is touted as free these days isn’t really free. You’re always exchanging something for it, whether be it your time or inflated prices for something else. There is always a hidden cost attached to the freebie.

Let us look at a few examples here.

The local grocery store gives you free product samples. This is actually an enticement for the customer to try new products and a great product test for the company. So as a consumer you are actually giving away product familiarity in exchange.

When you fill out a form and get some product freebie in the mail, you not only get some free stuff but also whole lot of advertisement for the product, numerous discount coupons for the product and several reminders to buy the product. The reason a business gives away a freebie is to get repeat business and you are actually giving away some of your mindspace to the product.

Looking at World Wide Web, we find that every minute thousands of searches are carried out on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines for free. Through these searches, the search engines are able to gather search terms that they use to refine their business model and advertising system.

Millions of hours are put into facebook for free by users worldwide. All the users’ personal information is used by Facebook to direct advertisements to these users. So this is serving as a great advertising revenue for the company. As a consumer we are trading our personal information and privacy.

Nothing is free, there is a cost of free and you are definitely paying the cost, though not directly out of your purse.

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