Free Camera Cell Phone Offers: Are They As Good As They Sound?
It's a rare consumer indeed who can resist the lure of receiving something for what they perceive as nothing. And it's an even rarer retailer who does not recognize the value of the "loss leader," that article which is offered to the consumer at a steep discount, usually below the retailer's cost, in the effort to entice new business. The free camera cell phone is now one of the prime examples of the loss leader strategy at work. Free camera cell phones are great lures for the wireless cell phone network providers facing tremendous competition, and willing to sacrifice the cost of the camera cell phones if it means they will sign up a long-term customer.
Using the loss leader strategy for more than a handful of items, however, would be the death of any retailing business. But because the wireless network providers are actually in the business of selling wireless plans and not cell phones, they can afford to sacrifice a few free camera cell phones in the name of buttressing their customer bases. For them, the strategy of offering free camera cell phones has a double payback: they not only get paying customers into the fold for extended contract periods, they get paying customers who already love them for providing the free camera cell phones.
But because all the major wireless network providers now offer free camera cell pones, some have taken the loss leader strategy one step further, to sat one step further ahead of the competitions. How?
They will not only provide their new customers with free camera cell phones, they will throw in mail-in rebates on those free camera cell phones. And these rebated are not for trivial amounts; they range from between $25 and $100, so the customer is not only getting a free camera cell phone, but is actually being paid for using it--or at least that is what the consumer is supposed to think. And many do, until the monthly cell phone bill starts arriving!
There are some wireless cell phone providers, however, who use their free camera cell phone offers for another purpose. They have an "instant rebate" policy, which means that they ask you to charge the camera cell phone to your credit card and if you have enough funds to cover it, they'll know that your credit is in good standing and you will be able to handle the cost of monthly cell phone service. They don't tell you this, of course; they simply indicate that the offer of the free camera cell phonies only good for customers who charge it.
If you are someone who wants a cell phone only for emergencies and are more interested in a short-term prepaid cell phone plan than in signing up for a long-term contract, you may have difficulty finding offers for free camera cell phones. Because the wireless cell phone carriers make their profits on the sales of service plans, and they can't be sure how long, as a prepaid customer, you would be staying with them, they can't afford to subsidize the cost of your camera cell phone.