Momentary lapse of life

R/C, PC Security, and anything else that interests me at the time…

Free iPod — um, not really

Free iPod — um, not really: “From the ‘No Free Lunch’ file, let’s take a look one of the more widespread offers circulating online for a free Apple iPod.

This one is from something called Incentive Reward Center, which is typically reached via Web-site banner ads and promises a ‘free*’ iPod that normally sells for $399.

In the asterisked fine print below, the firm says that receiving your free iPod depends on the following conditions: ‘completion of offer terms,’ ‘completion of user survey’ and ‘participation in sponsor offers.’

What it doesn’t say is that the offer terms will expose you to reams of spam and marketing solicitations, that the user survey is actually a lengthy marketing ploy, and that the sponsor offers needed to qualify for that free music player will almost certainly cost you money.

It also doesn’t say that Incentive Reward Center is in fact a Florida business entity called Theuseful.com, which is in fact a fictitious business name registered by another Florida business entity called NiuTech.

As for NiuTech, the Better Business Bureau says the company has an ‘unsatisfactory record … due to unanswered complaints concerning advertising and delivery issues.’

Eddie Anazagasty, a spokesman for the Better Business Bureau, said 177 complaints against NiuTech have been lodged by consumers during the past three years over difficulties in obtaining promised goods like iPods and laptop computers.

‘That’s a lot,’ he said. ‘And the company hasn’t responded to us. Those aren’t good signs.’

No one at NiuTech returned my repeated calls for comment.

But what makes this program especially troubling is that NiuTech has partnered with some of the biggest names in the business world for the iPod offer.

Clicking through the labyrinthine promotion (as I’ve done) turns up the likes of AOL, Bertelsmann, Blockbuster, Citibank, EarthLink, General Motors and USA Today, to name just a few.

Free iPod — um, not really

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