tialaramex wrote:The text annotation definitely doesn't work for non-commercial entities. I have received numerous advertisements from the government in which they
• Reminded me of free services they provide which I might want to make use of
• Explained new benefits available to some people (not me, I'm too rich) which would result in receiving actual money from the government
• Provided genuinely free vouchers to participate in activities which would encourage a positive health outcome (e.g. swimming, quit-smoking classes)
Incorrect. As I stated to jalohones earlier, the funding that those programs receive keeps them active and pays the salaries of those involved. The non-commercial entities advertising those services to you (which are not free, they are paid for by taxes collected from the populace, assuming they're not part of a spending deficit) do, in fact, receive a material and monetary benefit from your taking part in those services. If people stopped using smoking-cessation programs, the funding would be directed to other services and programs, and the programs would dry up.
tialaramex wrote:Beyond that it doesn't apply to commercial entities either, I have worked for a company which gave away its service for the first twelve months to try to gauge what people liked about it and how it should be changed before charging for it. The service was free, not "we will charge your credit card after 12 months" but just free. Anyone could sign up. We advertised, not anywhere expensive, but we did advertise, because otherwise who would know it was there? This cost a bunch of money, but the lessons learned were valuable. No money went from customer X to us, but the sum total of human knowledge was increased.
And beyond even that, a new credit card company started up in my country. To get new customers they offered 0% interest for 12 months AND they offered balance transfers by simply writing a cheque. Lots of people I knew signed up, wrote a cheque for the maximum amount, and paid it into their savings accounts. As twelve months approached, they withdrew the same amount, paid off the card and destroyed it. Free money. The bank wrote all this off as a cost of attracting new business.
The explanation inside the album Dispepsi by Negativland of how Coca-cola and Pepsi advertisements achieve almost nothing despite the enormous cost is relevant and worth reading. The album itself, won't be to everyone's taste.
Wrong, wrong, and anecdotal/aprocryphal.
The service that your company charged zero dollars for, and advertised for, was used as market research. The company would not have done that market research if they didn't expect to see a monetary benefit from doing that research. As you stated, the lessons learned during the product trial were valuable, which means that they had value, and they provided the company with a direction to take the product in once they started charging for it (or they found that the product didn't have enough value to sustain the company's goals). If the company was not interested in making additional profit from the product or service, they wouldn't have bothered with the free trial run, and they would have just charged from the start, while incorporating lessons learned as they went along in the process.
As to the credit card company, if you think that every single person who opens up a credit card on a promotional zero-percent interest plan actually does what you describe, and manages to pay off their promotional balance before it comes due, you need to get out into the real world some more. I see people every day default on or miss deadlines on payments on zero-percent interest credit cards. Credit card companies wouldn't do this if they didn't think that they would make more money in the long run than they would lose from the promotion, which, again, means that they expect a material and monetary benefit from the program.
There is no such thing as negative money. If a credit card company stays "in the red" for long enough, it folds, plain and simple. You can't get back "into the black" by just magically writing off losses from a promotional zero-percent interest period and make it all go away before the next year's returns. In fact, as long as everyone was paying back their balances at the end, like you claim your friends did, the credit card company didn't lose a single red cent. It all gets balanced out in the end, and if that company is still in business now, you can bet that they've made more money from that promotion than they spent on it.