Pros and Cons of Online Services Becoming Free

Alec Maclean 

For many years, online services and shopping have been a good alternative to shopping in stores, and have been convenient to many customers. The internet now offers all kinds of shopping; from streaming movies and music, to clothes and furniture. While online shopping may be great during the COVID-19 virus, there can be some downsides. 


Because of the current situation in which we are now living, popular online services have made free or discounted their services for a limited time. Some services for example are Spotify, Peloton, Sling TV, Sirius XM and UberEats. 


Many of these services are media streaming services, which is convenient to many stuck at home. And when you are stuck at home, boredom can really take effect. But access to these services can help with that and keep you entertained. In addition, other essential services, like Uber Eats, have made it cheaper for customers stuck at home to access essential products with free delivery of food. 


One major upside is free conference call applications. Services like Zoom, have given members easy access to video chat with whoever they want. Most importantly it has allowed people to see their family or loved ones during these tough times. 


While most of the economy is shut down, and some businesses closed, people are in need of money wherever they can find it. Companies that provide non essentials are allowing free access to their products to allow their customers to spend money on what’s considered essential. 


Brendan Whtimore, a sophomore at Oakdale High, has been taking advantage of this opportunity; “It’s free stuff” he advocates. And he’s right; everyone loves free stuff.


Some wouldn’t think of the downsides to the major increase in online shopping, but they exist. Although many brick and mortar businesses are closed for the time being, some are still running and taking orders. Even in these hard times they find a way to keep providing for their customers. I think people might become distracted with free online services, and forget about their community businesses. Small businesses around the country are struggling and have to apply for loans to keep afloat. 


Jada Rivera, a sophomore at Oakdale High said, “The purpose of a real store is for people to purchase from them in person”. 


The government has recently put out a $350 billion dollar bailout to small businesses around the country. But this may only help for a small amount of time. With in-person purchases being the majority of sales for small businesses, they might not be able to adapt to the online marketplace. But some have, restaurants have gone to takeout or delivery to their local community. Local Businesses like gyms or workout studios may be streaming online. Your local pizza place may be moving to delivery services that they haven’t offered in the past.


Another downside is a lack of contact with the outside world. You might have just activated a new free trial for Sling TV and you are tempted to stay inside all day and watch TV. But just because there is a virus going around doesn’t mean you can’t go for a walk, ride a bike, or go for a hike. Even state parks are open for these activities.