Not everything on the Internet is free

There isn't a better price than free, and there is no place that is loaded with more for free than the Internet. The only problem is that even when a site advertises it's free, many time's it's not - and the real price can be steeper than you'd ever want to pay.That's the warning offered from Todd Drowlette, chairman of, a new free site for consumer classified, real estate and personals listings. Drowlette said that his research into the consumer-to-consumer advertising space on the Internet revealed a wide variety of practices that exist for the sole purpose of deceiving the consumer. "We all tend to have faith in the 'truth in advertising' laws protecting us from bait and switch scams," Drowlette said. "The problem is that the Internet is so saturated with bait and switch sites, the government would never have enough resources to prosecute them all. So, it's really up to the consumer to beware and be aware of the kinds of sites that are out to get their money, get their email addresses or just flat out rip them off." His tips include: Free or Premium - Before signing up with a listing site, surf it carefully to ensure that all their user listings are free. It's common for them to charge companies for display ads and banner, but that's only one of their revenue models. Many sites advertise free user listings, but in reality, only the first one is free and only after you sign up for a paid membership can you access additional listings. Make sure you understand exactly what you will be getting for free before you sign up. Credit Card for ID Purposes - Some sites will ask for your credit card information to determine that you are of legal age to place an ad. Don't believe it. If someone wants your credit card information, it's because they want your money, not your ID. In some cases, you'll find an unauthorized charge on your card, but because you didn't read the fine print when you signed up, it's impossible to get the charge reversed. Terms of Service - When you register on a classifieds or pay-to-use site, don't just click through all the registration procedures. Each click constitutes an agreement with the site, so read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies carefully. This is not just fine print. These documents spell out your legal rights, and the site you're visiting is counting on the fact you won't read them. In addition, the privacy policy spells out whether they will sell your email address to spammers once you sign up. Free to Post - Sure, it might be free to post, but that may be all you can do. Many sites use that as the come-on, and then advise you that only premium (paid) members can see your listing, or that you cannot get responses until you pay for a premium membership yourself. Make sure everything is free before you post. After all, what's the point of posting if you can't communicate with anyone who sees it? "Free sites will never ask you for a credit card and they will never ask you to pay any kind of fee up front," Drowlette said. Todd Drowlette graduated from Siena College with high honors in 2003 before becoming a member of Siena College's Associate Board of Trustees. In 2010, Todd authored the book "Everything I Needed to Know About Real Estate, I Learned on my Paper Route."

********** Published: April 21, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 1