"Freeware" on the Internet doesn't just mean software.
A survey of World Wide Web sites by the Associated Press reveals a variety of products that are being given away--although for the pricier stuff, there often are strings attached.
For instance, one Internet provider offers an Emachines personal computer free to subscribers who sign up for three years of Internet access. The PC's value: about $400. Monitor not included.
The AP didn't identify the provider. But ISP Intersquid.com has a similar deal on its Web site, offering a 333-megahertz computer and monitor at no charge to customers who commit to 30 months of online service at $29.99 a month--and make all the payments. That's a total price tag of about $900, but if you assume you're paying $20 a month for the Net service, then the computer's price comes out to about $300. Reasonable, if you're happy with the computer.
The Totally Free Stuff Web site (www.totallyfreestuff.com) has a long list of no-charge items, but if you want the $150,000 home, you have to enter a Florida-based sweepstakes. The house may go free to somebody, but you'll need a lot of luck to land it. Similar offers for a "free" car may require you to spend all day in your new buggy selling vitamins or diet pills.
Some cheaper items can be had just by registering online, such as a 99-cent bar of Dove soap or a $5 baby pacifier. But if you want a Dunkin' Donuts computer mouse pad through TotallyFreeStuff, you have to send in a receipt for for a Dunkin' Donuts combo (coffee and two doughnuts, price $2.15).
Maybe there's no such thing as a free mouse pad.
Here are some of the free things found on the Internet and what they would cost to buy:
EMachines personal computer
Free: when you buy three years of Internet access (monitor not included).
Cost: $400 (monitor not included)
Free: bar of Dove soap (at www.totallyfreestuff.com)
Cost: 99 cents
One year of Internet access
Free: when you buy a Dell personal computer for $959
Cost: $239.40 a year ($19.95 a month)
Free: when you sign guest book at pocketstuffer.com
Free: at www.totallyfreestuff.com
SOURCE: Associated Press