7 Types of Freeloaders & How to Beat Them (For Entrepreneurs)

no freeloaders

If you are an entrepreneur, you know who freeloaders are.

They are the “potential customers” who expect discounts, exceptions to the rules and, of course, who seek to get your services for free, without giving anything back.

This article will show you who the freeloaders are and how to deal with them.

The Types of Freeloaders

Here are the types of freeloaders, categorized based partly on psychology and partly simply on humor:

#1. The Entitled Freeloader

If he has a question he immediately goes on the “contact” form because, of course, he is important and if he has a question he needs a reply.

Once on the contact page, he immediately thinks that my request to avoid personal questions via emails does not apply to him -of course, he’s entitled to a priority treatment!-.

And to make sure I reply quickly, he uses smart copy to compel me to read:

freeloader emails
Notice the highly descriptive subjects, just to show respect for my time

And of course, as every self-respecting freeloader, he keeps his issues for months rather than, God forbid, spend some money on a personal consultation.

Or who knows, maybe he’s trying different subject lines copy on me to study which one works.
In that case, respect to you my freeloading friend :).

Advice for the entrepreneurs:
don’t open those emails, they are freeloaders’ clickbait.
If you do, skim through them and never reply.

#2. The “Go Get Another Job So I Can Get Your Stuff For Free” Freeloader

This freeloader is a thing of beauty.

He realizes that you might need to sell some stuff, but the rules should not apply to what he wants to consume -makes a lot of sense, no?-.

example of freeloader email

Advice for the freeloader:
Change mentality.
That “stop trying to monetize your work attitude” makes you come across as a selfish freeloader who’d rather see the content producer starve than providing even the smallest support through a “like”.

Advice for the entrepreneur:
Don’t reply and God forbid getting dragged into defending your right to ask for a fair exchange of value.

#3. Social Warrior Freeloader

You gotta love these ones.

Using social power moves on ThePowerMoves :).

Their angle is to take the moral high ground that it’s about “learning and sharing”, which is good, and “asking for money”, which is bad.

For example, they complain to me about the 5 articles limit because “people need to learn”.

That is, of course, a highly manipulative, self-righteous attitude that pretends to take the side “of the people” to make you look like a money-grabbing grinch -instead of someone who, just like anyone else, needs an income to live-.

It’s also the same technique that manipulative politicians use to justify their profit-driven wars.
And the same technique that unfair debaters and moral police use when they deploy moral justice attacks.

Come to think of it, I might copy that strategy:

Me to the bank: I need to live somewhere, stop with this mortgage sh*t every month!

Then you can get on a roll and knock down all your payment obligations:

Me to SiteGround: I need to host my website somewhere, stop running your charge FCS!

When you start, it becomes a way of life and you can get anything with it!
You can even expand to your personal relationships:

Fathers from now on: It’s your baby, it wasn’t me who grew him for 9 months, take care of him. And of yourself. And since you’re there, take care of me as well

The issue with this freeloader is that instead of facing and fixing his own issues -a lack or inability of producing an income- he pushes the blame onto others -ie.: you, by not making it free, are the source of my problems-.

Advice for the freeloader:
1. quit using shame as a tool for power and compliance. It really makes you come across super-unlikable.
2. Understand that capitalism, albeit far from perfect, is also a good system to enable our lives of freedom and choice.
3. Everyone needs an income, when you take that approach of “make it free” it’s the equivalent of saying: “I don’t care if you cannot make a living”.

Advice for the entrepreneurs:
Don’t allow those messages to stay in public forums. They are nonsense, but people who still don’t know much about the world can get easily swayed by these fake charismatic leaders (see Savonarola for a historical example).

#4. The “Rub It In” Freeloader

Freeloading is a way of being, not acting.

It becomes so normal for this type of freeloader, that you don’t need to hide it anymore.

As a matter of fact, you can rub it in to those idiots producing content and services:

Yeah, and “a lot” means that you’ve been evading the PayWall ūüôā

LOL, I just had to smile at that one though, it was fun.

Basically this guy flaunted all my requests in the contact form not to write with personal requests and then told me that he’s been going around the PayWall.¬†
He might have added in there he’s been using an AdBlock as well, you know… Just to hit all the right buttons :).

But he did it all so naturally that I just had to smile at it.

Advice for freeloader:
to increase the chances of a reply, share a couple of articles or like the Facebook page and then tell me you did that.
I’ll immediately feel like you’re a supporter.

Advice for the entrepreneur:
Don’t get offended that people are trying to get your stuff without paying: that’s how many people are.
Focus on the loopholes and weaknesses of your system instead. Or focus on getting more “proper customers”. Whichever you decide, don’t waste time and mental cycles on people who give you nothing.

#4. The “Link To Me” Freeloader

I get a lot of these of course.

I might dig deeper later to find a couple entertaining ones, but here’s a typical bonehead request:

Advice for Freeloaders: What’s In It For Me man, “What’s In It For Me”.
Especially if the person hasn’t replied to you the first time around, don’t go about stealing more of their time without fixing your delivery.
And if you don’t have a WIIFM, then admit it.
It will make you come across as more sincere and less slimy.

Advice for Entrepreneurs:
They’re doing that with hundreds of others, you don’t want to link up with these people.
And asking without giving is immoral, never give to these people.

#5. The “Refund Me” Free Rider

Of course, the biggest example of freeloaders for digital entrepreneurs are people who abuse your refund guarantee.

Sometimes you can’t be sure if someone is taking advantage of your refund system or if they sincerely couldn’t take the full value out of your course.

But sometimes, you can be fairly sure they were trying to abuse the system.

Here is one example:

Basically: he asked a refund as soon as he got into the course.
When I told him that the course hadn’t yet fully unlocked, he “changed his mind”.

Alright, right until now it might still be an honest “not a good fit for me” customer.

But here is where it gets dodgy.
Right after the course fully unlocked, he asked again for a refund.
Like all those weeks weren’t enough to decide the course was good for you? You had to wait until everything was available for you to enjoy and download?

Because it looks like he was enjoying it if he waited until everything unlocked and he still tried his luck outside of the 30 days refund window.

A bit sad considering this also was a previous buyer of one of my ebooks.

How do you deal with these people?
If you want to run a value-based business where your time only goes to worthy individuals, then these people are not worth your reply.

I have to add here that, thank goodness, they are very rare.

Advice for the freeloader:
Buy if you can afford to buy or don’t buy if you can’t afford to buy. Quit being a bottom-feeding scammer.

Advice for the entrepreneur:
Don’t refund people who are trying to scam you.
As a matter of fact, don’t even reply.¬†
But do record the events in case they try to harm you with negative feedback.

The Complaining Customer

Then, of course, there is the customer who “complains” to get something -a discount, a freebie or, if they hit the jackpot of their lifetime, a full refund!-.

This was the second email he had sent, one to my business email and the other to the Paypal account -you gotta love people who double or triple message you-:

But I appreciate he stopped the game early and got around to proper behavior

In this article, I walk-through a real-life negotiation of an unfair refund request (but that was before my business days and with an Ebay product).

Advice for the freeloader:
Mate, please, this is what all the worst people in the world do and everyone knows what’s going on when you show up with that fake sad-sack loser face.

Advice for the entrepreneur:
Same as above, giving in to scammers means contributing to a worst world. Don’t be that type of entrepreneur.

#6. Stingy Digital Freeloader

The stingy digital freeloader is like the old day analog freeloader, but on steroids.

He grew up in the Internet era, he learned to use Torrents, he unlocks research papers on sci-hub if he’s an academic and he binge-watches Games of Thrones on a cracked Netflix if he’s a couch-potato.

The idea that he might have to exchange value on the Internet is alien to him.

When he lands on ThePowerMoves.com and likes the content he bolts to Thepiratebay.org to check if the course and ebooks are there.
Damn, not (yet)!
He tries a few more torrent websites.
Damn, not (yet)!

He then bookmarks the page to keep hanging around it with the attitude of a vulture.
He thinks that if he stays close to his victim, he will eventually find a crack.

Hopefully, he won’t…

Stingy Is A Sad Way of Life

The Stingy freeloader is stingy in all areas of life.

And he doesn’t realize that, in the long run, his stinginess is costing him.

At work, he brings from home to save a few bucks, without realizing that investing in human relationships would have a much bigger effect on his bottom line (see “Never Eat Alone“).

He walks home for 30 minutes instead of making a bus ticket, without realizing he could be using that time so much wisely.
He doesn’t realize he’s throwing his life away.

And, in general, he wastes hours and hours every week in what are pathetic efforts of saving a few bucks.
If he’s a conservative, he deep downs feel hookers are immoral, but he doesn’t realize he’s selling his life away for single digit dollars -at least hookers charge more-.

Luckily you don’t have these in your customers’ list.
They’d never think of buying anything: you never know that 30 days guarantee ain’t real!

#7. The “Ask Without Giving” Freeloader

This is another typical one.

It consists of asking without even considering to give back and, sometimes, without even being willing to give back.

Look at this example:

example of freeloader

Still, I am happy to help someone out. 

So I tell him “alright mate, how about this deal: you share on your FB (or whatever social media you use) a couple of the articles you like most, and I will give you access”.

In my mind it was a no-brainer, the easiest way for him to say “yes” and even save face.
That way he wasn’t scrounging around, but he was entering a fair exchange.

Win-win.

Instead:

an example of no WIIFM

Instead, here fuses the offer.

Fine, maybe he doesn’t want to share his social media. I undestand.

But at that point, it was up to him to either:

  1. Come up with an alternative (ie.: “I’ll tell a friend of mine)
  2. Show me he understands he’s in debt and ask for a favor (ie.: sorry I can’t chip in right now, I’m asking just as a favor man)
  3. Show me he undesrtands he’s in debt and stop pretending this is a fair exchange and refer the decision to me (ie: “sorry I can’t give anything back mate, you’d just do it for a favor and I’d be very grateful. Up to you”)

And it wouldn’t have hurt if he had added “I know it’s not much, I’m just going through a rough spot”.
That would have given him more credibility and “saved my face” just in case the receiver could feel he’s overcharing.

Any of the above, I would have happily helped me.
And I would have thought

Alright, I can’t be sure he can’t afford $9, but if he spent so much time asking for it, maybe it’s true.
Plus he gets it and he’s being polite, and I appreciate that.

Instead, he refuses my proposal, keeps pretending this is a fair exchange and his reason for being a fair exchange is “because it interests me a lot”.

Advice for the freeloader:
If you can’t exchange, admit it and ask for a favor.
The reason is “because your content is so awesome and I’m going through a rough patch so if you feel like doing me a favor”, and not “because it interests me”.

How to Deal With Freeloaders

no freeloading allowed

There are two ways you can deal with freeloaders:

  1. Let them have it 
  2. Fight them

Most businesses today prefer letting the freeloaders win to lower the entry barriers to their business.
It’s effective because that way you also get more legit customers on board and, after all, freeloaders are a minority.

However, that’s not the path I decided for myself.
Since I run a values-based business, I choose to uphold my personal values and my business values to the way I monetize as well.

My products are designed to be freeloaders-proof.
Here are a few ways to do it:

  1. Drip feed your course with the last part dripping after the end of the refund period
  2. Don’t offer refunds on products you can’t drip-feed or:
    1. Only offer partial refunds
  3. Make sure that paying customers always get additional value and perks

Freeloaders & Free Riders: The Science

Freeloaders for online entrepreneurs is an instance of a bigger issue that in the social sciences is called “free-rider problem”.

In a nutshell, the free-rider problem refers to people who take out from a system without contributing anything to it.

It’s an interesting social phenomenon and it’s also highly relevant for this website.
However, this post only deals with the “free-riding problem” from a practical point of view.

As a matter of fact, from now on I will also use the more informal and pejorative form for the phenomenon, such as: “freeloaders”.

As we go through the example, you can also learn more about emotional intelligence and social skills.

Why I Dislike Freeloaders

Alright, this was a long post.

Why do I take so many precautions against freeloaders?

What’s the point?

The point is that freeloaders worry me they will be using this website for all the wrong reasons.

The Power Moves is about growing and becoming more powerful for yourself, sure, but also for the people around and for the world.

The Power Moves is about win-win.
And freeloaders are not.

The Power Moves is all about teaching people how to avoid win-lose and how to deal with win-lose individuals.

And guess where the freeloaders stand on that dichotomy?

Freeloaders are all about take-take.

Note To “My” Free Riders

Are you one of the senders of the above messages?

Don’t take it personally, but take it as a learning opportunity (develop a growth mindset).

This post is not to “shame you”.
Quite the opposite.
Take this post as the free personalized lesson that I didn’t have the time to deliver.

Free-riding can be helpful when you’re building up and when you don’t (yet) have enough.
So there is value in it, at times.

But staying stuck in that mindset is, ultimately, limiting your life.

Social research shows that a lifetime and a mindset of free-riding leads to poorer life satisfaction.
A lifetime of free-riding trying to save a few bucks is, on average, a much less fulfilling. 

Research also shows that giving has the opposite effect: it increases life satisfaction.

Hence my recommendation: rather than pinching pennies, better focusing on making more.
And better to spend on experiences, personal growth, and relationships -including, maybe, the relationships with the people you’re trying to freeload from since you seem to enjoy what they do :)-.

SUMMARY

  • Free-riding can be helpful when you’re really poor or when you’re building up, but you better most past it
  • When writing to busy people asking for something, don’t forget that you are asking. That puts you in debt and you need to put a WIIFM there
  • Avoid approaching content producer with the attitude they need to answer to you personally or they need to give you stuff for free: it makes you come across like a dic*head
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