Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2 Free Southwest Tickets: Scam?

The Gig

On Facebook (and other websites) there have been links flying around that tell people you can get 2 Free Southwest Tickets.

The Truth

This isn't a scam but an incentivized offer. There are many rewards companies that do similar things to this, offering "free" things for only a little information and "participation".

Why Information?

These companies do several things to try and make money. First, they want to acquire as much information as they can about you (for this offer, they have you give up your Facebook info and then ask you for more). They do this so they can turn around and sell that information. Your information is referred to as a lead and will generally sell anywhere from $0.10 to several dollars. The buyers of this information are generally salespeople who want to sell you something.

What is "Participation"?

Generally in these cases, "participation" means that you have to be a part of one or more offers. These offers are products or services that you buy and by purchasing/subscribing to these (and keeping them for at least a specified amount of time) you are then qualified for 2 free Southwest Tickets.

In the case of 2 Free Southwest Tickets, you are required to:

  • 18 years old
  • Legal US resident
  • Provide Valid email
  • Provide Valid Mailing Address
  • Cannot live in Washington State, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands or  non-contiguous boundaries of the US
  • Provide Zip Code
  • More contact information
  • Demographic information
  • Acquire two sponsor action points from the Top Offers Group (buy 2 things from this product list)
  • Acquire two offers from the Prime Offers Group (buy 2 more things from this product list)
  • Acquire 9 offers from the Premium Offers Group (buy 9 things from this product list)
  • Refer three friends to register and complete the required number of sponsor offers
  • If there is a credit card offer, you must use the card,  balance transfer or cash advance, AND keep it for 60 days
  • Retails offers must not be returned or canceled
  • Billing information on all purchases must be exactly the same
  • All this must be completed in 90 days
  • After everything above is done, you have to log in and print a certificate which is mailed in
  • Your 2 "Free" Southwest Tickets will be sent in 30 days
After you meet eligibility, have given all your information, purchased 13 different products/services, and spammed your friends to do the same and they complete it, then you have to jump through half a dozen more hoops and you will get 2 Southwest Airline Tickets 30 days later.


You don't get something for nothing.

Gephardt Approved Scam?

The Skinny

In Utah, there is a company called Gephardt Approved. As I understand, other companies pay them to get reviewed and "approved" all based on the name of Bill Gephardt, a man who claims to be honest and respectable. When someone I know had a bad experience with one of their "approved" companies and emailed Gephardt about it, the Gephardt Approved team emailed his complaint on to the "approved" company with an added message to something to the effect of: "here, you deal with this".

The Problem

The "approved" company my friend had been dealing with was small and his complaints were first given to the head of the "approved" company, but when they rudely argued that they had done nothing wrong, he reached out to the Gephardt team to do what they promise on their website:

Seeing as to how Gephardt handled this complaint and my friend hoping they would be his advocate, I began to wonder why they did absolutely nothing about his issue. I couldn't help but feel that they are a company that is just worried about getting paid by businesses regardless of customer complaints. It doesn't help their case when this isn't the first time a company has continued to be Gephardt Approved despite other customer complaints. The question to ask is: Why would a company that gets paid by businesses, fire his own customers? That is bad business and doesn't make sense. Gephardt Approved is not even approved by the Better Business Bureau.

To be Fair

OK, so maybe it was an uneducated employee who handled my friend's request and maybe Bill Gephardt himself would have handled it differently, but in the end my friend was rudely treated by both the "approved" company and Gephardt Approved.


I now avoid businesses that say "Gephardt Approved" because to me, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As we all get to do, you get to decide what this means to you.

Thankfully, this blog is NOT Gephardt Approved and never will be.

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