Entries in Free (7)


Bed and Breakfasts Offer Free Rooms to Say “Thank You” to Military

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hundreds of bed and breakfasts around the country will offer free rooms and discounts to active and retired military personnel for Veterans Day and beyond this year. It was an idea that started with one three-room inn in West Virginia and has grown exponentially.

Kathleen Panek, the owner and host of the Gillum House Bed & Breakfast in Shinnston, West Va., said she thought the military needed a thank you and made her whole inn available to book for free. The next year, she invited nine other inns in West Virginia to join her.

Then, she said, "I started sending out emails to [inn] state associations asking if they wanted to join us. All they had to do was offer one free room for one night, that wasn't going to break anybody. I only have three rooms. I know what it is to be small."

The first association to accept the offer was in Cody, Wyo. And then it just grew and grew, as did the work to maintain it.

"It buried me alive," she said. "I never expected anything like that."

Panek has since passed the duties off, but still participates in the offer. Now, active and retired military can find out about the deals at web sites like and

The BnBsforVets site has 244 participating inns, many of which are already selling out of their free night offer. But even if an inn is sold out for this year, this isn't an offer likely to go away, said Panek. Inquire now about booking the offer for next year.

There are nearly 100 offers on BnBfinder, ranging from a 10 percent discount to free nights. But Mary White, CEO and founder of BnBFinder, said there are even more offers than what's on the web site. "Sometimes," she laughed, "the innkeepers don't get around to loading all their deals."

She encouraged veterans to call the site's toll-free number (888 547 8226) to get personal help with finding an offer to suit them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ad-Supported ATMs Expand in NYC

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A small start-up called Free ATM Inc. and the Barclays Center stadium of Brooklyn, N.Y. are partnering to bring ATMs with no fees to New York City.

The Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets and oft-used concert venue, will have seven ATMs on Sept. 28, including one that provides access to the public who are not attending an event.

Instead of paying an ATM fee, typically $2 or $3 when you use a machine outside of your bank’s ATM network, Free ATM machines are supported by advertising.

Telecommunications company MetroPCS and online review site, Yelp, have signed up as an advertiser to support the fee-less ATMs.

Clinton Townsend, CEO of Free ATM Inc., said the Free ATMs can provide cash and convenience to the over 3 million expected visitors at Barclays Center.

Townsend said the partnership with Yelp, a national company that serves hyper-local markets, was a strategic move.

“This gives us the opportunity to leverage both the national and local brands to use this platform,” he said.

Townsend said he was approached by Barclays in part because his company is also a local business.

The ATM ad plays during the time the screen’s message indicates a transaction is processing, typically 15 seconds or less, Townsend said.

This is Free ATM’s second location to host its machines after introducing its prototype in a music venue and bar called the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on Nov. 4, 2011.

Townsend said 5,000 people have used the first ATM since its launch, one-third of whom are repeat-customers, saving about $1,000 a month in fees.

“When people know this is in their community, they are coming back time and time again,” he said.

Some people have used the ATM up to 8 times in a month, he said.

The Barclays Center ATMs are expected to distribute $5 million in cash in its first year.

The ultimate goal of the company is to expand to the rest of the country, he said.

But next up, the company is planning to host its ATMs at five more locations in New York City, including Manhattan and additional spaces in Brooklyn.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hug a Vending Machine for a Free Coke?

Image credit: Coca Cola(NEW YORK) -- Although their latest social media ploy might look ridiculous, Coca Cola has struck marketing gold.  A vending machine in Singapore is offering free cans of Coke in exchange for a hug.  When you hug the red machine labeled with the words Hug Me, and squeeze the sides, a can of soda pops out.

The machine was installed at the National University of Singapore and photos of people hugging the machine have taken social media by storm.

This regional initiative was created by Ogilvy & Mather as part of Coca Cola’s “Open Happiness” campaign.

“Our strategy is to deliver doses of happiness in an unexpected, innovative way to engage not only the people present, but the audience at large,” said Leonardo O’Grady, ASEAN IMC director, in a statement.

“Whether you were hugging the machine or experiencing the event online, our goal was the same – to put a smile on your face and share that emotional connection.”

The company plans to unveil more machines across Asia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Show Me the Money! Cash In on Items Forgotten, Confiscated at Airports

Medioimages/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- It's a scene played out at airports across the country each day, the piece of luggage circling around and around the carousel, forgotten or left behind by a harried traveler.

And, with airport security at an all-time high, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials gather mounds and mounds of confiscated items each year, from lotions and perfumes to knives, bats and more.

So what happens to the contents of that suitcase left behind? Just who profits from the more than seven million items left behind at airports across the country each year?

The answer, it turns out, could be you!

ABC’s Good Morning America discovered the millions of dollars worth of merchandise left behind at airports each year is available to the public, at a huge discount.

Items left behind at airports are delivered to local surplus stores, where everyday Americans can buy them for a huge discount, often as much as 70 percent. Some states also post the deals online, meaning you don't even have to leave your home to rake in the savings.

A GMA tour of a surplus store in Texas, for example, found designer sunglasses that regularly sell for $300 on sale for $50. And a set a Tiffany's earrings that would retail for around $4,500 were on sale for around $750.

The deal-making is a win-win situation for states too: the money made in Pennsylvania surplus stores and online goes right back to the state.

"Since 2004, when we began participating in the program, we have brought over $700,000 back into the state," Troy Thompson of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, told ABC News.

How can you cash in? Visit these sites to see where you can buy TSA-confiscated items in your state:

Budget Travel

Eyeflare Travel Info

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Readies Trade Deals with Colombia, Panama, South Korea

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House announced Wednesday it is ready to send U.S. trade deals with Columbia, Panama and South Korea to Congress, senior administration officials said. White House officials said they are ready to move to the next stage in the legislative process and hope that talks will begin Thursday on Capitol Hill.

“We expect the work to begin now on all three FTAs,” or free trade agreements, a senior administration official said, “and we look forward to Congress getting each one of those agreements ready for a vote.”

The precise sequencing, timing, and packaging need to be worked out over the next few weeks.

Republicans had previously threatened to block the South Korea agreement, finalized in December of last year, if the White House did not also send the other two, Colombia and Panama. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk sent a letter Wednesday to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees indicating that the deal is now ready to move “to the next stage in the process.”

In the letter Kirk says that “more work” needs to be done on Columbia but the agreement allows all three FTA’s to begin the process of implementing review by staff and beginning the process of legislative approval.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Time Warner Cable Offers Free Calls to Japan to Customers

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Time Warner Cable announced Friday that all calls placed by its digital phone customers to Japan will be free until April 15, 2011.  The deal will be available to both residential and business class phone customers.

Time Warner's offer comes after seeing a noticeable increase in the number of calls to Japan by its customers.

"We have seen an increase in the number of calls made by our customers to family, friends and colleagues in Japan we have been touched by the events that occurred earlier today," Glenn Britt, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable said Friday.

The company says that the offer will be retroactive for all calls placed on March 11, 2011. 

Customers making calls to Japan during the eligible period do not need to make changes to their accounts to participate in the offer, Time Warner says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tax Tip: Electronically Filing Your Taxes for Free

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The IRS is not mailing out tax forms this year, since millions of tax filers pay $20 or $30 for a software program to do their taxes for them. But many of those people could do it for free.

“The majority of Americans, about 70 percent, qualify for free e-filing through,” said Mary Beth Franklin with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, who notes that you have to make less than $58,000 a year to qualify.

“They have a partnership with about 20 different software vendors and you can prepare and file your income taxes for free,” she said.

No need to worry about keeping up with the latest tax law changes.

“It is absolutely up to date reflecting all the changes and there are many for the 2010 tax filing season,” Franklin said.

Even if you don't qualify for free filing, you can still use the Free File Fillable Forms. Just put in the numbers, and they will often do the math for you.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio