Trick or treat! That's how I felt after obtaining “free” price quotes when researching the pricing of ADP and PayChoice online payroll products. I was initially pleased to find that the companies provided what were ostensibly free price quote calculators on their sites. “Try our new Payroll Price Quote Tool” says ADP’s site. “Experience the ease of transparent pricing,” says PayChoice’s site, “Get a free rate quote.”
However, to get a free quote you must first fill in a form that requires you to provide your name, company name, phone number, email address, number of employees, and how frequently employees are paid. You are then able to use the tool to get price quotes.
Afterwards, as expected, ADP and PayChoice sales reps were all over me like a bad suit with phone calls and e-mails. “I see you were on or site looking for information. Please call back and I’ll help.”
So you do, in sense, have to pay for the free quote through a degree of annoyance.
Having to fill in a form to get an article or whitepapers, or view an ad to read an article, get a game score, or watch a video, has become commonplace and is a price we pay, often begrudgingly, to get the information we seek.
While this is annoying, it is not as bad as some of the bait-and-switch marketing ploys that are being perpetrated online. I recently received a notice that I had won $1,000 gift certificate for Walmart and all I had to do was provide information to claim it. I thought I’d follow along to see where it led. I was taken through screen after screen of survey information and offers, and finally was told I had to subscribe to one of a number of offers to receive my “free” gift. At that point I left. Since then, I have been continually inundated with e-mails offering me all sorts of special offers and deals.
The web is increasingly becoming a thicket of unwanted ads, pop up screens, fill-in forms, and deceptive deals that you must negotiate to get to the content that is seemingly offered for free. While to the offending companies, this is slick and savvy marketing, to the user it is more and more unwanted trickery and a commercial nightmare.
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