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ShopSmart finds Great Freebies

A guide to enjoying summer treats, activities and more for free; Plus, three ways to avoid freebie traps that can cost money

ShopSmart MagazineYonkers, NY – There’s only one thing better than a bargain, and that’s a freebie! The July 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from Consumer Reports, uncovers ways consumers can score a variety of stuff without shelling out a dime including many food and activity options for adults and kids this summer season.

“If your budget is tight, there’s lots of products and services you can score for free,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “But, beware, some offers really are too good to be true, so make sure to check the details if the freebie requires you to sign-up and share personal information or a credit-card number.”

Great Summer Freebies

ShopSmart has uncovered dozens and dozens of ways to score free stuff in six categories: skills and services; snacks and more; classes; fun times; books, music and more; and other surprising stuff.   Below are some warm-weather suitable products and services from different categories that adults and kids can enjoy without paying for them:

  • Bowling.  Head to kidsbowlfree.com to register little ones to enjoy two daily games of bowling all summer at participating alleys.  Some places even throw in a free shoe rental.
  • Internet Service.  Want to stay connected while on the go this summer?  The Wi-Fi Finder app (free for Android and Apple) finds no-charge connections nearby.
  • Frozen Treats.  Head to Ben & Jerry’s on Father’s Day (June 16th) to see if dad can get a free scoop of ice cream.  Stop by 7-Eleven on July 11 to score a free Slurpee.
  • Kid Food.  Search the KidsMealsDeals app (free for Android, Apple and BlackBerry)  daily to find nearby no-cost bites.
  • Movies.  A few independent theaters and chains, including Clearview Cinemas and Cinemaworld, screen movies for kids; seating is first come, first served, and some theaters require a paid adult admission.  And, as the temperatures heat up, many cities turn parks into movie theaters with sunset film screenings.
  • Outdoor Skills.  Get out and enjoy the weather.  Some REI locations offer no-charge instruction on bike maintenance, mountain-climbing prep, and a lot more.  Check a local store for more information or go to rei.com.
  • Park Visits.  More than half of the country’s national parks are free and all will be free on August 25th in honor of the National Park Service birthday.  Check online for other free days offered throughout the year.
  • Workout Sessions.  Stay in shape this summer with no financial commitment.  Check online to see if a municipality offers group fitness classes at their local recreation centers and parks – as some do.

Paying a Price for Free Stuff

Free stuff is awesome, but ShopSmart advises consumers not to be lax with their personal information to get it.  Here are three things to do when signing up for freebies:

  1. Read privacy policies.  Consumers shouldn’t provide information they aren’t comfortable sharing and be especially careful when it comes to children.  For example, with birthday clubs, it may make sense to use initials instead of full names.
  2. Check the fine print.  Freebies aren’t free if consumers are required to sign up and pay for something else.  The Federal Trade Commission cautions that certain companies that use payment info to sign consumers up for stuff make cancelling extremely difficult, hiding the info in tiny, out-of-the-way type.  Watch for prechecked (opt-out) boxes on sign-up forms.
  3. Use a credit card.  If payment info is required, use a credit card.  The Fair Credit Billing Act makes it easier to stop payments.  Check statements after cancelling.

About Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.

Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart Magazine

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time.

ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Publix and Target. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.


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