Be wary of 'FREE' laptop deals, warns Which
FREE laptops with broadband have been available for a couple of years now. But just like mobile phones back in the late 90s, the CPW and Phones4U posters screaming 'FREE LAPTOPS!' do come with a catch or two.
Besides a limited choice over an inferior selection of netbooks plus an extra expensive data contract, the total cost also usually works out more expensive than if you were to have purchased the 2 separately.
But Vodafone, T-Mobile, 3 and Orange all do it, with 24-month contracts on a variety of tariffs. You would think that consumers add up the numbers and figure out they got a better deal separately, but according to The Inquirer and Which?, plenty of people are actually lappin' up the deals. Why? The Inquirer has an explanation for this:
What Which doesn't seem to realise is that a lot of people don't have £500 or more kicking about in their other trousers, and the credit checks used by mobile operators tend to be, let's say a little less stringent, than some high street retailers.
One cannot compare this to the housing market, but there are similarities to mortgage brokers giving out 'subsidised' loans without stringent credit checks. Of course, this is unlikely to set off any major 'credit' crunches, but with more than 100 models on the UK market today starting from the low hundreds and prices of mobile broadband constantly falling, why isn't the average person taking the extra minute out to compare deals? Laptop makers such as Dell offer their own finance offers, while those at university may find a better deal by using their student loan to buy the right laptop. All of the current mobile broadband deals from the major suppliers can also be compared at independent comparison website Broadband Genie, where consumers will also find advice, guides and reviews, as well as comments from genuine customers, comparing both laptop inclusive offers and dongle-only prices and allowing you to arrange them by price, contract length, speed and download limit. We are a saavy bunch here on Bitterwallet and HUKD, but perhaps high street shoppers should be taught to be more aware of marketing tactics utilized by big companies, playing on the human desire for instant gratification.