Image thanks to Melting Vinyl

Free is a four letter word! Freeconomy has nine letters. I first came across the word consciously in the Economist’s new magazine 1843 in an article about how people are playing the system. They scour the media for offers promising free stuff and use their technical skills to create spreadsheets and algorithms to maximize the amount of stuff they can get without paying. The irony is, as the magazine pointed out, that the people who benefit most from these free offers are those who are best placed to pay for them.

Let me tell you though that there is no such thing as free stuff. It and the freeconomy is a myth. The old saying goes that there is no such thing as a free lunch and the same applies for other goods and services. Someone must always pay the piper and it is usually you.

Offers promising free things and discounts are wrapped up as marketing or promotion. They are put forward to raise awareness and grab market share yet they are not free. They are paid for from the savings of the entrepreneur, from the pockets of venture capitalists or by future customers. If product is given away then the cost of this must be reflected in the price that goods are ultimately sold. We all pay higher prices for stuff to be given away.

By way of example, I do some work for free but I can only do so because people pay me for my other services.

I accept that this might be a cost we all have to bear and that all systems will have those that abuse them, though I question the ethics of those that game the system with no intention of paying. Goods may be, as the National Health Services puts it, free at the point of contact but they are never free and I for one will be doing my best not to take companies up on their kind offers.

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