The Cost of Free

August 2022

Everyone likes “free”.  What they really mean is they like it better when someone else pays!

Businesses promote “free” for the promise of greater revenues.  Presumably those taking advantage of “free” will purchase other items at the time or revisit an establishment in the future.  A free slice of pizza or drink will certainly increase business.  Another version of “free” for those with higher cost products and services is to offer a significant dollar or percentage discount

We all like our “free” e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google.  All are private businesses that demand profitability.  We allow them to access and sell our posts, communications and search habits to others in return for our “free” access.

There is an unlimited demand for ‘free’”

In condominium communities “free” takes a different form.  There is constant pressure to lower condo fees which is quite easy.  Close down one elevator, turn off electricity for one week each month, ignore that leak through the roof or wall, or avoid updating amenities.  All are guaranteed to lower condo fees for a time yet few will be satisfied with the result.

There is unlimited demand for “free”.  For businesses “free” becomes a cost of doing business.  For condominium communities “free” creates problems that degrade our lifestyle and add to our overall costs.

Successful businesses do not give away their products.  McDonalds may reduce prices on select items, sometimes through couponing, but does not simply give away their product.  Starbucks rarely discounts.  Likewise, condominium communities should avoid the alure of “free”.  It doesn’t exist.

Next time a resident or director talks about lower fees demand specifics.  How do they plan to achieve this goal?

Few of those who promise “free” are prepared to admit they have a different agenda.