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Pulling Back 'Hidden Freebies' Curtain Most Customers Don't Know About

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – No matter who you are, the idea of "free stuff" is appealing. But plenty of people are missing out on a ton of free stuff that's right under their noses. Fortunately for you, CBS4's Vanessa Borge knows where to look!

When Emily Costantino signed up for Amazon Prime, she only had one thought in mind – the fast and free shipping that attracts many to the service.

Joey Lanasa agrees "You can't beat two-day shipping for free."

But it turns out Amazon Prime has lots of freebies unknown to many customers.

"It was nice to come across free movies!" Emily Leyva said.

And it's not just free movies.

"In reality, they have so many other perks that they give you – free music, free movies, free books.  All kinds of things you can take advantage of and you should take advantage of," explained Duquesne University Marketing Professor Dr. Audrey Guskey.

Amazon Prime is a perfect example of perks that many miss – everything from free photo storage to discounts on diapers nobody else can get.

Call them hidden freebies – extra benefits that come when you sign up for a service of some sort but require some digging into the fine print to find.

That's because the freebies are designed to retain existing customers rather than attract new ones.

"It's very expensive to get a new customer, and once you get them you want to hold on to them. The smart companies value their existing customers more," Point Park University Business Professor Elaine Luther said. "They can get more from them than they can get from new customers because it's cheaper to keep them than to get them."

Millions have a AAA membership, for example – but do you know the non-travel perks?

"You think of AAA discounts for hotels, for rental cars, maybe even airline discounts. But a lot of time you don't think of it as going to a restaurant in the area or going to a store and actually getting 15, 20 percent off.  So it's a very nice perk," Guskey said.

And then there's your wireless carrier.

"It seemed like every one of them had some additional services," Luther said.

Verizon users can stream the NFL network, playoff games and the Super Bowl for free, while it's the NBA plus some other networks with Sprint.

ATT has a perk that automatically plugs you into free Wi-Fi at any affiliated hot spots like Starbucks, McDonalds, and Barnes & Noble.

And T-Mobile users can stream as much music as they wish without using any data and catch some live baseball games.

And don't forget the freebies for filling out surveys.

"For example, Costco. You think of them as being a discount store, but if you fill out their surveys and answer their questions in a couple minutes, they'll give you a gift certificate. A lot of times you don't have to buy anything," Guskey said.

And some loyalty programs have upgrades for special customers – like Chick Fil-A with its secrecy-shrouded invitation-only program that offers free food, tours and events beyond the norm.

So how do you find this hidden perks?

"Sometimes it doesn't hurt just to ask," Luther said.

"You really need to do your homework and recognize that there may be other opportunities for you to take advantage of," adds Guskey, "a whole menu of things that you never realized."

As Peyton McIntyre notes about hidden freebies, "Yeah, I mean, I don't think you can get anything better than that."

True – as long as you know about them!

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