There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch


A man bought a new refrigerator for his home, and although his old one still worked well, he had no space to keep it.  He decided to place the old refrigerator outside on his lawn with a sign that said ‘Working refrigerator, FREE’ on it.

A week went by and the fridge was still there, sitting in his front lawn.  The man, figuring that passersby were thinking that since it was free then something must be wrong with it.  Cleverly, he decided to change the sign to read: ‘Working Refrigerator, Price: R100’.

The next day, the man woke to discover that the previously ‘free’ refrigerator had been stolen off his front lawn. 

You may have been searching online for websites or low cost / free online services for new businesses and come across an ad or information on free websites. Or even low cost websites – ie R10 a website. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

Read the fine print

Like specials in stores, the fine print is very important to any offer. Notice how most offers state ‘Terms and Conditions apply’? So what exactly does free mean? What are the terms ? What conditions do you need to abide by?  Is there an admin fee that is not included. Are there monthly or annual costs ?  Is the 1st month free and thereafter costs are billed?

Some of the online specials or offers you find are based on a term or condition you may not be happy with. There are 5 common costs to a website:

  1. Domain registration / renewal
  2. Creation
  3. Hosting.

Check the details of the ‘offer’ / ‘special’ and make sure what you are committing to over the next few years. Use the three categories above and look out for details on how the costs are split for this. You may find out that the creation of the site and first year (domain registration and hosting) is free. So what happens after that? You may think that free is still free – so wouldn’t it be? Not necessarily and here’s why.

Related: 5 Ways to Give Your Website a Boost

When the honeymoon is over

After a year you need to pay monthly or annual costs to keep the site up and running. Since the site url (email addresses too) is used in all your marketing – like business cards, signatures and the like, you would like to continue to use it. And rightly so.

The fees for the following year may be high or mandatory. So you are bound to pay them after the offer period. The fees may be high but the inconvenience of moving the site is too much trouble, what do most people do? Leave it where it is and pay the fees they ask.

With every business decision, it is up to you to make the decision if ‘free’ is worth the time and effort later. There are businesses and services that are not that expensive and you can utilise this for a minimal fee. Also be on the lookout for ‘do it yourself’ offers – these are great if you have the necessary knowledge.


Nasira Jamal
Nasira Jamal founded Qubicle 5 in 2009. She has worked within the Software Development and Management arena throughout her years working with the top performing financial institutions and small businesses. She aims to provide detailed information to her clients affording them the opportunity to make the best IT path for their company.