Spend $4,320, Get Free iMac

1999 – A few days ago, Free-PC.com started giving away free Windows PCs. Ho hum Compaq Presarios. The Mac community yawned – or snickered. But now One Stop Communications is offering a free iMac. In fact, they’re offering a total of 25,000 free iMac.

new iMac colors, late 1999

Believe me, we’re paying attention!

But you’d better read the fine print.

  • You must agree to purchase a minimum of $100 in merchandise per month from shopss.com, which you prepay at the start of each month – for 36 months. (You should check out their selection and pricing before signing up, but they only have a demo site up at present.)
  • You must use One Stop Communications as your ISP at $19.95 per month for 36 months.
  • You must agree to use the IP telephone service of One Stop Communications for 36 months.
  • You agree to receive and read one email per day from shopss.com.
  • You may not have any upgrades done unless compubag.com does them – at whatever price they choose to charge. (Another site under construction.)

If you are interested in this offer, note that the site is extremely slow – probably thousands of Mac lovers checking out the details. Or maybe because One Stop Communications seems to be located in Israel (the domain ends with .il, so if the server isn’t located in Israel, it is at least registered there).

Once you add up the numbers, you’ll see that the “free” iMac obligates you to spend at least US$4,320 over the course of three years.

From my perspective, this looks like a great way for One Stop to guarantee over $100 million in income over the course of three years at an initial outlay of perhaps $25 million (for 25,000 iMacs). Looking at that, figure the markup on what you buy probably won’t result in any great deals.

Last November, I warned that the $30/month iMac could be an expensive way to buy a $1,300 computer, especially if you took the entire six years to pay it off.

Committing to spend over $4,320 to get a “free” $1,200 computer sounds like an even more expensive deal – especially since you can’t currently check out the merchandise and pricing at shopss.com.

Pig in a poke, anyone?

Forewarned is forearmed.

Update 1999.02.17: Wired News reports this may well be a scam. The man behind the plan pulled a similar stunt last summer with free ISDN, took a lot of people for their first $100 payment, then filed for bankruptcy.

Related Reading

  • Free PC, Anyone?, State of the Macintosh
  • Free iMacs? Well, not exactly, MacCentral
  • Your iMac for Free (at a Cost), the iMac.com
  • Fiends Prey on the Unwary, Applelinks

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