Direct marketing campaigns that offer potential customers “free goods”, can end up costing them much more than they bargained for, according to industry analysis.

On some websites, participants are asked to pay a fee to evaluate the product, they may be required to apply for and make use of a credit card or loan (at an undisclosed rate) and may also be required to make a purchase.

In the fine print, the website will concede that in some instances, the cost to complete the required sponsor offers may exceed the value of the underlying gift package. But many customers will overlook this detail.

Don Mecoy, writing for said: “I feel sorry for the consumers who sign up for such offers without first reading all the fine print. They [will most] likely find themselves awash in spam, telemarketing calls, direct mail and debt. And chances are pretty good, I suspect, that many don’t even qualify for the ‘free’ item.”

Related Topics: Direct Mail