Friday, April 17, 2015

EE Free Power Bar may NOT be so "free"...

"FREE" EE Power Bar Offer Warning

EE recently launched an offer for a free power bar (external battery) to its customers in the United Kingdom (UK).  Everywhere this offer from EE is displayed (online, email campaigns, texts, etc), the word FREE is very prominent and there is no obvious mention of additional hidden costs you may incur if you choose to take them up on this "free" exclusive offer.

Get Ready to Pay if...

I figured there must be a catch — it is essentially a given in this world of liars, cheats, and thieves that push the boundaries of the law by using small print and legal terms and conditions to hide the true cost of things.  One could certainly describe such advertising as opportunistically misleading (a nice term for skirting the edge of legality and blatantly hiding details that may encourage a customer to NOT take them up on such a "Free" offer).

I am so sick of seeing products and services, whether on the television or in print or whatever, that boldly state "FREE" everywhere with perhaps an asterisk or such that leads you to the small print that might as well state "NOT FREE" — and yet such advertising is commonplace and apparently no regulators are willing to step in and tell a company that it is unacceptable to state "free (* not free)" in such shady ways.

Well, EE is the latest to do the FREE BUT NOT REALLY FREE marketing campaign (while only, of course, featuring the first word — FREE — everywhere while never making clear what the true cost of taking them up on that "free" offer is.   EE does mention the fact it will cost you £20 if you lose the power bar (battery gizmo) in the general text on that page I linked to, but beware of the fact that you also must RETURN THE POWER BAR at the end of 18 months (or such) or face a penalty charge of £5.

OK, so how is this "free" if I must PAY to keep the thing past a certain duration? That is a good question!  This is typical bullshit marketing at its best where you, as a major company, can essentially state "FREE (but not free, via the small/hidden print!)".  I say "hidden" because you must dive into the full legal terms and conditions (EE's PDF) to find the following:

"2.7 When this agreement expires or terminates (for mobile or broadband customer this will happen automatically if you chose to cancel your agreement with us for mobile or broadband services), you must return the Power Bar to an EE store within 60 days. If you don’t you’ll have to pay a charge to compensate us for replacing the Power Bar. Currently this is £5. For mobile and broadband customers, this will be applied to your bill. If you’re not an existing customer, we’ll contact you using the information supplied to us when you joined EE Power and we’ll issue a bill for the cost of replacing the Power Bar that has not been returned. "

Am I the only one that is sick of the fact such misleading advertising is allowed? Gee, how about at least putting this fact in the "FAQ"  for the offer? (surely it has to be a FREQUENT question when it was the first one I asked when I went into the local EE store — and no worker knew if there was a charge or not either!)

The external supplemental battery (aka, power bar) was interesting to me, but not if I have to be concerned about what it will cost me if I forget to return it, lose it, or otherwise have issues with it.  You will have to decide yourself it the "free" (with potential costs) is still free enough for you.

Continue to read this Software Development and Technology Blog for computer programming articles (including useful free / OSS source-code and algorithms), software development insights, and technology Techniques, How-To's, Fixes, Reviews, and News — focused on Dart Language, SQL Server, Delphi, Nvidia CUDA, VMware, TypeScript, SVG, other technology tips and how-to's, plus my varied political and economic opinions.

No comments: