As we’ve come to realize the critical dangers of snoring and sleep apnea, the number of people designing, manufacturing, and selling treatments is expanding rapidly. As these companies jockey for position in an increasingly crowded market, some of them are offering promotional “free” treatments.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea or trying to cope with the dangerous nuisance of snoring, free treatment sure seems appealing. Overall, treating sleep apnea is likely to save you money in healthcare expenses, but the initial cost of treatment may seem a burden.
It’s important to remember that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL): if you don’t pay for the treatment up front, you will be paying for it in other ways.
Shipping & Handling
Many common free offers come with the caveat that you just have to pay shipping and handling. When you actually get the bill for this supposedly minor fee, it’s often completely out of proportion with any shipping costs you may be familiar with. Apparently, “handling” costs a lot.
For many of these offers, especially cheap snoring treatments, that “handling” charge probably covers the cost of the product and a small profit. It’s just a way that people can make you pay for your supposedly free treatment.
Never Really Free
One of the tricky things about a free trial is that for many of them the product isn’t actually free. You get to try it for a little while, but if you don’t return it promptly before the trial ends, you end up paying the full cost of the product.
Companies vary as far as how fair they are about accepting returned products or pretending they didn’t get the product back in time.
An important variation on “free” you need to watch out for is “at no cost to you.” Companies use this when they are planning on billing your insurance company for reimbursement for your device.
But if the insurance claim falls through, either because you’re not a good candidate or the company didn’t file it right, you may find that you’re on the hook for the full cost of the device.
Additional Parts and Supplies
Another way you might be made to pay for a product is with an elevated cost for replacement parts and supplies. You might be able to use the treatment for a little while without buying new supplies, but if you want to see therapeutic benefit, you may end up paying outrageous charges for replacement parts and cleaning supplies for your equipment.
Other times, the product may be a supplement where the first one is free, but refills are exorbitantly priced.
You’re probably familiar with this from the last time you got a “free” phone. The product is free, but only if you agree to a service contract. If you add up the cost of the contract, you’ll see that you’re actually paying a lot more for the device than you would have if you just bought it.
Sometimes the subscription is combined with the parts and service needed. You may not ask for additional supplies or equipment–they just arrive. In some cases, you may not even realize you signed up for a service.
You’re on the List
Other times, you’re not actually subscribed to a service, but your name has been added to the company’s database, one which they will use to try to sell you additional products and services. And if you don’t buy anything from them, you can bet they will sell your name to other people who want to sell you products.
You may not pay additional cost if you can dodge the sales pressure, but you’ll still pay in irritation.
If you think the nuisance from the sales calls is bad, sometimes using the actual product is worse. Many of these free products are the brainchild of a basement inventor who thinks the idea is brilliant but hasn’t really tested it–that’s what you’re for.
You may get few instructions. The device may be uncomfortable. It may break multiple times. You can actually end up losing a lot of sleep over something that’s supposed to help you sleep.
Delay and Disillusionment
But perhaps the worst thing that comes out of these free trials is that you waste your time, time that could be spent treating your sleep apnea. Any treatment delay contributes to your continued risk of serious complications.
Another problem is that people can become disillusioned with all the snoring treatments that just don’t work. You may feel an urge to give up before you find one that really works for you. Messing around with these free trials adds an extra level to your disappointment, making it more likely that you won’t get treatment.
A Great Deal in Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you are looking for a great deal in sleep apnea treatment, you want to find a good value. And treatments are only good values if they actually work.
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