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Online Freebies

My love affair with online freebies started out during a casual visit to I wandered into the site while exhaustively researching this article -- an activity referred to by Mrs. Modem as “playing at the computer.” I was trolling for anything free when I encountered a coupon good for one free treat for my kitties.

Later in this article I’ll present a number of Web sites that offer a variety of free coupons, products and services, but first let’s take a look at why businesses give things away and what you need to do to participate.

Why Freebies?

Many companies believe if they give consumers an opportunity to try a product or service for free, people will like the product and eventually purchase it. Other businesses give things away in order to increase their visibility or to drive traffic to their Web site.

Though the motivation may vary, the objective is pretty much the same: To capture consumers’ hearts, loyalties and wallets, not necessarily in that order.

Here's the Deal

We’ve all heard the expression, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” and that’s true when it comes to online freebies. Unless of course you happen to have a lunch coupon. While some sites will send you a product sample if you provide your mailing address, other sites will require you to fill out a personal questionnaire.

So here's the deal: You, as the consumer, provide the information; they, as the companies, provide the goods. The personal information you provide will generally be used to compile consumer profiles for use in future marketing campaigns.

When you’re requested to provide personal information, follow Mr. Modem’s Golden Rule: Never provide personal information that you’re uncomfortable providing. If the thought of providing detailed information about your family in order to obtain a free bar of soap gives you the heebie-jeebies, don’t do it. Determine the value of each free product and service in terms of what information you’re giving up and what you’re getting in return.

You also have a right to know what information is being collected about your visit to a site through the use of cookies and with whom any information collected is being shared.

The Cookie Factor

A cookie is a small text file placed on your computer by a Web site that allows the site to gather information about your most recent visit. This information is typically used to personalize your next trip, perhaps greeting you by name or remembering your preferences relating to any user-defined options or features. Cookies may also be used to monitor traffic patterns within a Web site so the site’s overall design can be improved to better accommodate the preferences of visitors.

By the way, the term “cookie” derives from absolutely nothing. It’s a whimsical name created because it sounds cute, warm and fuzzy. But names can be deceiving. Rumor has it Charles Manson’s nickname was “Muffin.” While most cookies are harmless, it’s always good idea to review a Web site’s
privacy policy
relating to cookie usage. A site’s privacy policy is usually located in the fine print at the bottom of a Web site’s home page.

For additional information about cookies and cookie management, see the article titled "Cookies" in Mr. Modem's Library.

Use a Disposable Address

If you don’t want to be bothered by spam (junk email) that may arrive as a result of providing your email address to obtain a free product, consider signing up for yet another free product: A free email account. (Oh, the irony of it all!) This type of email address is frequently referred to as a "disposable" address because you use it for while, then dispose of it.

Once created, you can then use your disposable email address for freebie sign-ups and ignore any email sent to your free email account address. Popular free email services include Hotmail, Juno, and Yahoo! Mail. There are also disposable email address services such as SpamEx, SpamHole, and others.

In addition to free products and services, companies such as RebateShare and MyPoints that reward your Web-surfing with incentive-point programs that are similar to frequent-flyer programs. When you click on Web site advertisements and purchase items, you can earn points that can later be redeemed for CDs, gift certificates, even cash.

Enjoying this article? Then why not subscribe to Mr. Modem's Weekly Newsletter ( today! Computer tips, tricks, virus alerts, hoax information, plus prompt, personal responses to your computer questions!

Beware of Hidden Charges

Lastly, a word of caution: When signing up for freebies, be sure to keep an eye out for charges such as shipping, handling, registration fees, or any extra costs that may surround a freebie offer. Many times a free product offer will not include shipping charges. In those instances you will be requested to provide your credit card information. Be sure you understand how much you will be charged. Investigate if any lower-cost shipping options available. Sometimes a site's "standard shipping" is the most expensive. Always print out a copy of anything ordered, including the amount of the shipping or any extra charges. And never provide your Social Security number to any online retailer. Ever.

A festival of freebies awaits your arrival on the Web. Here are a few of Mr. Modem’s favorites.

Absolutely Freebies is a wonderful starting point for finding lots of free stuff on the Web. Free greeting cards, software, web space, sweepstakes, magazines, free money, you name it, they're all here!

At ClickRewards, earn ClickMiles for shopping at designated Web sites. Once earned, you can use your ClickMiles as frequent flyer miles on 10 participating airlines or redeem them for other rewards. provides more than 9,000 links to free goodies available on the Web. It’s enough to give you a headache. Thank heavens for free aspirin samples. provides fun, customized, free invitations by email for any party or special event. Includes RSVP tracking.

Free Stuff Central is the Mother Node of Web sites when it comes to freebies. Links to scores of top freebie sites, including sites where you can earn money while surfing, take advantage of discounts at popular stores and obtain discount coupon books, earn money for taking online surveys, and much more.

Mr. Wakeup is the home of Ms. Reminder, Mr. Notify, and Dr. Dose, so if it's a reminder you need, let it not be a reminder to visit this Web site.

Additional Freebie Web Sites:

Surf the Web without leaving a record of your cyber excursions.

Callers can leave you a voice mail instead of getting a busy signal when you're online. You can also obtain a free fax number.

Free Classified Ads
More than 100,000 ads, updated daily.

Coupon Surfer
Provide local information and receive personalized offers. Use the CouponButler to collect coupons in requested categories.

Free 'n Clear
Free products with free shipping.

Free Email Providers Guide
Search more than 1,400 free email providers in more than 85 countries to easily find the Free Email Provider that is perfect for you. Also listed are free e-communications services, such as Internet Service Providers, fax, long-distance calls, voicemail, online storage, etc.

Free Internet Access
Free Internet Access Providers
Comprehensive listings of free Internet access.

Free Product Samples
Hundreds of free product samples, money-saving coupons, freebies, recipes, and free catalogs.

A very popular click-for-points program where you can earn gifts by viewing online ads.

"All the best free stuff, all in one place." Free samples and magazine trial offers.

Allows users to browse through various categories of free offers of top "free stuff" links, each with its own full description.

"The Internet's free stuff portal."

Flipside for Games
Arguably the best online game network, offering four sites to choose from.

Homestead Web Sites
Build your own Web site. Try it for free for 30 days, then as low as $10/month. Excellent way to create your first Web site.

"The ultimate Source for Bargain Lovers." Free magazines, newsletters, product samples, money-making ideas, job information, career opportunities, and more.

Online Photo Album
Create your own online photo album. Free OfotoNow software places your photos on the Web fast. You can also order prints and other photo-based novelties.

Sales Circular
Lists by category all sale items for a particular off-line store in a given week. This site is arranged by state for easy searching. Includes Sears, Target, CompUSA, Circuit City, Radio Shack, WalMart and many others.

Virtual Free Sites
More than 500 helpful pages of free stuff, search engines, Web cams, virtual tours, online shopping, online casinos, online computing, reference sites, security, and more than 1 Million Books!

Heralded as "the oldest free stuff site on the Internet," includes a free service to notify you by email of special offers in categories of interest to you.

Free software that enables you to download beautiful free photographs that can be used as wallpaper for your Desktop or randomly rotate as a screensaver.

Weekly Freebie Compilation
Your guide to the best free stuff on the Internet. Handpicked offers by other freebie enthusiasts.

Zapways Online Storage
One megabyte (1MB) of free, Internet-based backup space in which you can store files, programs, etc. Additional space starting at 250MB for $9.95/month is also available. No software required.

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