I was on a coupons website looking up potential ways to save when we go on our buying spree next month in the States. Suddenly, my attention was grabbed by an offer for a free $100 gift certificate to Pizza Hut. $100 worth of pizza? I’m on that! I can put down a lot of pepperoni and sausage with a gift card like that! So, I clicked for more details. It seemed that all I had to do was fill out some surveys and “Complete sections 2 & 3” to get the card. I chalked this ambiguity up to poor technical writing. And, I began the survey.

It took over an hour. I kept saying “No, not interested,” “No, I don’t have a septic system,” “No, I nor anyone in my household suffers from diabetes,” “No, I don’t want to learn more about all-time low mortgage rates.” Still, the questions kept coming and coming. Finally, we got to the mysterious sections 2 & 3. That’s when they informed me that I had to participate in some “deals” from their sponsors. The first page had many deals to choose from. And, one of them was absolutely free. It was with a music company I had participated in before and I was very pleased with their service. The only reason I had canceled was that we were trying to cut our monthly budget. No, it wasn’t one of those Columbia House deals where you get 12 CDs for a penny. It was an online music company where you pay $10 a month and have 30 downloads of music. This time, I could sign up for a free 2 week trial and get 25 free songs. Then, would cancel at no cost. Because I trust this company, I chose that as my first “sponsor deal.”

Then, I was led to a new page and a new list of deals. This list wasn’t as large. And, every single thing required a “processing fee” to get their free deal. (Thereby making it not free.) Fine. There was a deal where I paid $1 for a free $25 gift card to KMart. Now, I’m not typically the KMart shopping type, but I’ll take free money for anywhere. I signed up and waited for details on claiming this card to come to my inbox.  Then, I clicked “next” on the survey. I could almost taste the pizza!

It led me to yet another new page and new list of deals. This time, I could either sign up for a credit card or another “free” deal. But, to qualify for the pizza card, I had to sign up for the credit  card & actually USE it & pay it off first. As for the “free” deals, the cheapest one they offered had a $30.00 supply fee. What the heck! This is NOT FREE.

So, after all of the trouble, I had to cancel. I spent over an hour and got no free pizza.  Sigh.

At least I was going to get my $25 (minus the $1 processing fee) gift card to a store I usually don’t shop at.

But then, I got the e-mail from that company with the details. Before receiving my card, I had to fill out another survey that they would send to me in 4 to 6 weeks. But, my “free trial” with that company will end in 7 days. So, by the time I get around to getting the survey, sending it in, having them process it, and receiving my “free” gift card, I would be out 2 months worth of dues to this shopping club. And, my time in the States where this card could be used would be over. I had to cancel this amazing deal, too.

So, now I’m out $1 and a lot of my time. And I’m ticked. Shame on me for falling for this trick! I can only plead Pizza. I mean, it’s been almost 2 years since I’ve had real, live pepperoni or other pork products on my pizza. It’s been over 3 years since I’ve had a Papa John’s pizza with sausage, extra cheese, and that yummy garlic/butter/fat sauce they give you. You must chalk my stupidity up to the lusting after porcine pizza toppings. I throw myself on the mercy of the court.

And now, I will get even in my own way: If you hear of a company called Shopping Essentials that offers you great deals and free offers, RUN AWAY. As I have been so acutely reminded, there is no such thing as a free pizza lunch. Nor a free Kmart gift card. Grrrr.