In reality, nothing is free. There is a price for free. And every gain has got its pain.
Some people say, that a thing is free means someone else is paying. And I agree. But beyond that, you also pay.
But don't get me wrong; I don't mean to say you should avoid anything with an FOC tag (Free of Charge tag). In most cases, what you'll pay will be way less than in your next best alternative. Just that you'll pay - in cash, time or kind; now or later. So just make sure it's worth it.
I'll give you a complicated example from my life.
I'm exactly what PayPal co-founder, Max Levchin, calls a loner and extremely introverted. If I'm to choose between making a 5 mins phone call to a friend and to spend an entire day programming, I will go for the programming option.
All my friends complain about it. I tried hard to change it. It seems I have been wired that way. Phone conversations no matter how short, except when I'm explaining some tech stuff, always leave me drained. I feel more tired than working 3 hours stretch on Excel or programming VBA.
It's weird, but true and beyond me to change. All I do is to bear it and act normal.
But there's a good side to it, which makes my friends stick to me. I hardly (more like never) ask for help. I can't remember the last time I asked anyone for anything (except out of courtesy. "Wow you're already eating Lunch! Can I join you?").
I also tried to change that, but couldn't.
Also, if I give you my word on doing a thing, it's as good as done. And this is the one part of me I really wish I can alter. I don't fulfill the promise because I want to have a reputation of being reliable and trustworthy. Nope. There's this annoying reminder in my head that keeps going off. So now, I use a lot of "probably", "maybe", "might", "not sure", "I'll think about it", ...
So back to Price of Free, Pain of Gain.
Since, I know myself well and know all the activities that ruin my day, only very few FOC stuffs appeal to me. If you set up an MTN M2U and add me with the initial cost of N200 on you (FOC to me), I would be more than willing to pay you N2,000 to get me of the list. The statement I love to hear most on phone is, "I will call later". And most times, it's because they initiated and paid for the phone call. I don't want any scheme that will deny me that joy. And luckily, I have a job that makes me hardly notice that my phone is ringing.
So what is FOC on the surface, is going to become a big pain if I accept.
"Hi Mike, how's everyone in Nigeria? I'm buying and shipping you XYZ for free, all you'll pay for is the clearance at customs." Well, if I need XYZ I'll prefer to buy it. Thanks.
Objectively, it's not an ideal response. Turning down nearly all FOC offers I get. But from experience, I'll prefer to leave with consequences of not accepting such offers than the gain of accepting them. I've paid dearly for some free stuffs, and experienced some nasty pain of such gains.
What do you think?