Tuesday, May 18, 2010


“Oh-my-gosh-oh-my-gosh I’m gonna get Jillian Michaels’ book for free, for FREE, oh-my-gosh-oh-my-gosh I can’t believe it and all it’s gonna cost is $4.95 for shipping and handling you know that book normally sells for like $26 and I’m so excited I’m gonna get it free you know she’s that lady on the “Loser” show who is so mean but she really helps fat people lose weight and oh-my-gosh-oh-my-gosh I’m gonna get her book for free. Can you believe it?”

Well actually, no. At least, not without some strings attached.

So I checked it out and, of course there were strings.

Little, itty-bitty strings in the fine print box at the bottom of the credit card information section that you fill out for “shipping and handling,” but strings nonetheless.

So how much is her “free” book going to cost?

Well, you already know about the $4.95 “shipping and handling.”

Then there’s the $4 per week charge to become a member of her online membership program. Of course, they’ll bill you in quarterly installments which racks up $52 every three months. You do have the option to cancel and only be billed for the “shipping and handling” but you’ll have to be aware enough to do it within two weeks of having signed up for her “free” book.

Statistically speaking, most people aren’t aware enough. Marketers count on this. Even when many people will cancel after the see the $52 plus $4.95 show up on their credit card statement, marketers have more than paid for the promotion.

Meanwhile, most people will have actually paid $56.95, more than triple the Amazon.com price of the book, for something they thought they were getting for “free.”

Yes, I know, you are getting that fabulous membership in her online program, but why bury the cost and obligation in the fine print?

And let’s not forget the almost certain onslaught of advertising you’ll receive promoting her branded products. There’s her weight loss programs, vitamins, supplements, detoxifiers, and who knows what else you’ll be bombarded with. They will of course include the heart-tugging, emotion-bending, tear-dropping testimonials designed to get you to part with even more of your hard-earned money.

I don’t have a problem with Michaels or her desire to make a good living. A very good living. A very, very good living.

The problem I have is that the little, itty-bitty strings of obligation are buried in the fine print.

After all, $56.95 for a book you can buy for less than $15 online, is not what I would call “free.”

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