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by SixFigureStart | September 29, 2009


Call them "job-free-bies." Or "unemployment benefits." (Hah!). A New York Times article on the subject was titled 'Business Perks (Must Be Laid Off)'. It turns out that, with unemployment fever still afflicting the nation, local businesses are responding to the times and offering their loyal customers (and sometimes, strangers) gratis products and services. Watch out for gifts like these at your local shop and service providers. And if you happen to be a small-business owner, perhaps it'll be worth your while to institute such a plan. (Note that one free customer visit can generate additional 'normal price' stop-ins, and shop visitors often bring friends and relatives who could become future regulars.)

And this just in: Disney is getting into the act as well, offering free admission to Disneyland or Walt Disney World in 2010. The catch? All you've gotta do is register online and complete one day of community service for a favorite cause. (You can sign up now for info and updates, but you can't register for "assignments" until 1/1/10.) The House of Mouse has contracted with HandsOn Network, a sort of clearinghouse for volunteer work which will verify that the pledged day has been successfully completed. (The HandsOn web encompasses 70,000 affiliated agencies, including food banks, houses of worship and educational programs.) Once the new year rolls around, start planting, scrubbing, or counting that bake sale money as soon as you can, since the deal is limited to one million takers.

Disney (which, like many companies that deal in recreational pursuits, watched attendance decline this year) views this as a zero-cost effort, but one which promises plenty of rewards. The charitable organizations will surely benefit from added publicity and interest, and the lucky visitors -- only some of them regular customers -- will still spend heavily on food and paraphernalia, and in most cases bring several paying customers with them. That makes it a win-win-win, and who can argue with that?

--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault Staff Writer