IELTS Reading Test 115

“Freebie” Marketing

A . In the late 1890s, while travelling as an itinerant salesperson for the Crown Cork and Seal Company, King C.Gillette observed how his corked bottle caps were discarded immediately after opening. Nevertheless, his company turned a healthy profit and there was immense business value. Gillette soon came to realise, in a product that was used only a few times. Gillette had his own personal breakthrough while struggling with a straight-bladed razor – a slow, fiddly, and potentially dangerous instrument that required sharpening on a regular basis. A simple, disposable blade that could be thrown away when it dulled would meet a real need and generate strong profits, he correctly reasoned. After founding the American Safety Razor Company in 1901, his sales leapt from 168 blades in 1,903 to 123,648 blades only a year later.

B . What King C. Gillette pioneered is far more than a convenient and affordable way for men to shave, however, it is the business practice now known as “freebie marketing” that has inspired many more companies over the years. Gillette’s approach was contrary to the received wisdom of his era, which held that a single, durable, high-quality and relatively expensive consumer item with a high profit margin was the best foundation for a business. Freebie marketing involves two sets of items: a master product that is purchased once, and a consumable product that is frequently disposed of and repurchased on an ongoing basis. In this instance, the master product is often sold with little to no profit margin and is sometimes oven dispensed at a loss. As the consumables are purchased over months and years, however, this can yield a much greater overall profit.

C . Freebie marketing only works if the producer of the master item is also able to maintain control over the creation and distribution of the consumables. If this does not happen, then cheaper versions of the consumable items may be produced, leaving the original company without a source of profit. The video game company Atari, for example, initially sold its Atari 2600 consoles at cost price while relying on game sales for profit. Several programmers left Atari, however, and began a new company called Activision which produced cheaper games of a similar quality. Suddenly, Atari was left with no way to make money. Lawsuits to block Activision failed, and Atari survived only by adding licensing measures to its subsequent 5200 and 7800 consoles.

D . In other instances, consumers sometimes find that uses for a master product circumvent the need to purchase consumables. This phenomenon is well known to have afflicted the producers of CueCat barcode readers. These were given away free through Wired magazine with the intention that they would be used by customers to scan barcodes next to advertisements in the publication and thus generate new revenue flows. Users discovered, however, that the machines could be easily modified and used for other purposes, such as building a personal database of book and CD collections. As no licensing agreement was ever reached between Wired and its magazine subscribers, CueCat were powerless to intervene, and after company liquidation, the barcode readers soon became available in quantities over 500.000 for as little as US$0.30 each.

E . Not all forms of freebie marketing are legal. One notable example of this is the use of freebie marketing to “push” habit-forming goods in areas where there is otherwise no market. For illegal substances, this is already restricted on the basis of the product’s illegality, but the use of freebie marketing to promote legal goods such as tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceuticals is also outlawed because the short-term gain to a small number of commercial outlets is not deemed worth the social cost of widespread substance abuse.

F . Another practice that is prohibited under antitrust laws Is a form of freebie marketing known as “tying”. This is when a seller makes the sale of one good conditional on the acquisition of a second good. In these instances, the first good is typically important and highly desirable, while the second is inferior and undesirable. A music distributor who has the rights to an album that it is in high demand, for example, might only allow stores to purchase copies of this album if they also buy unpopular stock that does not sell very easily. Because this typically relies on the manipulation of a natural monopoly on the part of the distributor, such practices are widely understood to constitute anti-competitive behaviour.

Questions 1-6
Reading Passage 1 has six sections A-F. Choose the correct headings for sections A-F from the list of headings below.

List of headings
i No giveaways for addictive products
ii Sales of razor blades increase astronomically
iii Monopoly of consumables is vital for success
iv Video gaming – a risky business
v A novel method of dual marketing ruled out
vi Freebie marketing restricted to legal goods
vii Buyer ingenuity may lead to bankruptcy
viii A marketing innovation
ix A product innovation
x More money to be made from high – quality products

1 Section A
2 Section B
3 Section C
4 Section D
5 Section E
6 Section F

Questions 7-9
Complete the sentences below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

The new tactic of freebie marketing ran against the (7)…………………………..of Gillette’s time.

Occasionally, people who buy a master product find ways of using it that get around the necessity of buying more (8)…………………………………

Wired never had a (9)…………………………….with its customers about the use of the barcode readers.

Questions 10-13
Complete the summary below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

Freebie marketing is not permitted by law for either illegal or legal (10)…………………………….products. This type of promotion of goods such as tobacco and alcohol is not considered worth the (11)………………………….and has consequently been outlawed. “Tying” is also prohibited. This is when the sale of an attractive product is (12)…………………………on the purchase of another. It tends to occur when the seller takes advantage of a natural monopoly and is generally considered to be (13)………………………

Tacoma Narrows Bridge – Disaster Strikes

When the Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened for traffic on 1 July 1940, it was celebrated as a major engineering achievement. Even before construction was completed, however, flaws in the design were apparent; workers sucked on lemon slices to avoid motion sickness as the structure swayed in the relatively mild winds. Engineers tried three different revisions during construction to address the vibration problem. Initially, tie-down cables were anchored to fifty-tonne bulkheads on the river banks. These were ineffective, as the cables soon detached. Then, a pair of inclined cable locks was introduced to connect die main cables to the bridge deck at mid-span. These stayed throughout the bridge’s lifespan, but did nothing to reduce vibration. A further measure – the installation of hydraulic dampers between the towers and the floor system – was nullified because die dampers were compromised when the bridge was sandblasted before painting.

Shortly after opening, the bridge quickly acquired the fond nickname of “Galloping Gertie” because of the way it would roll in either side-to-side or lengthways movements – known in physics terms as the longitudinal and transverse modes of vibration respectively. These movements did not compromise the core integrity of the structure, but did make the crossing a somewhat white-knuckle affair. Many driven reported seeing cars ahead disappear from sight several times as they sank into troughs from transverse vibrations (imagine the ripple across a packed stadium during a Mexican wave). The experience of a longitudinal wave is closely analogous, but more accurately associated with the waves one would encounter in the ocean. On a suspension bridge though, these waves arc a unique experience – some daredevils were happy to pay the 75c toll just for the thrill.

Four months later, however, a never-before-seen type of vibration began afflicting the bridge in what were still fairly gentle winds (about 40 kmph). Rather than the simple “wave” morion that characterizes longitudinal and transverse vibration, the left side of the bridge would rise while the right side fell, but the centre line of the road would remain completely level. This was proved when two men walked along the centre of the bridge completely unaffected by the rocking motions around them. Visually, the bridge’s movements seemed to be more like a butterfly flapping its wings than a simple rolling motion. Engineers now understand this to be the torsional mode of vibration, and it is extremely hard to detect. In aeroplane design, for example, even minute shifts of die aircraft’s mass distribution and an alteration in one component can affect a component with which it has no logical connection. In its milder forms, this can cause a light buzzing noise, similar to that which a wasp or a bumble bee makes, but when allowed to develop unchecked, it can eventually cause the total destruction of an aeroplane.

The torsional mode of vibration is die consequence of a set of actions known as aerostatic flutter. This involves several different elements of a structure oscillating from the effect of wind, with each cycle of fluttering building more energy into the bridge’s movements and neutralizing any structural damping effects. Because the wind pumps in more energy than the structure can dissipate, and the oscillations feed off each other to become progressively stronger, the aerostatic flutter and torsional vibrations were all but assured to destroy the Tacoma Bridge on the morning of 7 November. At 11:00 a.m., the fluttering had increased to such amplitude that the suspender cables were placed under excessive strain. When these budded, the weight of the deck transferred to the adjacent cables which in turn were unable to support the weight. These cables buckled, leaving nothing to stop the central deck breaking off into the Tacoma River.

It was at around 10:15 a.m. on 7 November that torsional vibration began afflicting the bridge. This made driving treacherous, and newspaper editor Leonard Coatsworth’s car was jammed against the curb in the centre of the bridge as he attempted to cross. Coatsworth tried to rescue his daughter’s cocker spaniel from the back seat but was unsuccessful, and fearing for his life, crawled and staggered to safety on his own. At this point, an engineering professor named Beit Farquhatson proceeded onto the bridge in an attempt to save the frightened animal. Farqulunoii had been video-recording from the bonks of die river and had just returned from purchasing more rolls of film. As an avowed dog lover, he felt obliged to attempt a rescue. Unfortunately, the professor too was bitten and retreated empty handed, walking off just moments before the cables snapped and the giant concrete mass of the central deck caved inwards and disappeared into the river.

Questions 14-16
Complete the notes below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Engineers used various techniques while building the bridge to reduce wobble:
• they attached (14)…………………………… to heavy blocks on the shoreline
• they fastened main cables to the middle of the (15)…………………………….
• (16)……………………………….were placed between the tallest parts of the structure and the deck.

Questions 17-19
Complete the table below. Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

Questions 20-24
Complete the summary below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

(20)…………………………… a series of actions leading to torsional oscillation. Various components move back and forth from the force of the (21)……………………………..Eventually, the structure absorbs more (22)…………………………than it is able to disperse and the (23)………………………………..increase gradually in intensity until the structure collapses under the (24)……………………………

Questions 25-26
Choose TWO letters. A—E.

Which TWO of the following were on the bridge at the time of the collapse?

A filming equipment
B a small dog
C Leonard Coatsworth’s daughter
D a vehicle
E Professor Farquharson


Ebonics – also known by a host of other names such as African American Venacular English, Black English, Black Vernacular, and so on — is an African-American language that has its roots in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, as African captives devised the means to communicate with each other and with their captors. In the South of the United States, these Pan-African languages co-mingled with Standard English and the Southern dialect. Many uniquely African American components have arisen over the last two centuries, and all of these influences have forged what is now known as Ebonics.

In 1996, debates around the nature of “Ebonics’’ in the United States came to a head. That year, the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in California enacted Resolution 597-003, which officially recognized that African-American students “as part of their culture and history as African people possess and utilize a language”. Alternatively referred to as Ebonics (literally “black sounds”), African Communication Behaviours, and African Language Systems, this language was declared to be “genetically-based” rather than a dialect of Standard English.

Within the profession of language research and pedagogy, a strong consensus formed behind the OUSD’s decision to recognise Ebonics. Linguistics professor John Rickford noted that Ebonics was not simply characterised by erroneous grammar and a large slang vocabulary, but that underlying this language was a structured form and process of grammar and phonology that made English learning for Ebonics speakers far more complex a task than simply dropping bad habits. English teachers, Rickford counselled, must therefore accept and embrace these complexities.

The Linguistic Society of America (LSA) concurred with Rickford, adding that whether or not Ebonics should be defined as a dialect or a language does not matter in terms of its “validity”. While linguists studying Ebonics typically restrain from prescribing edicts in favour of tracking changes in form and style, the LSA did point to the fact that speakers of Sweden and Norwegian can typically understand each other while conversing in different “languages”, whereas Mandarin and Cantonese speakers cannot understand each other’s “dialects” to conclude that spatial and social tensions, rather than strict linguistic criteria, were the crucial factors in defining these terms.

For many others, however, the OUSD’s decision was tantamount to endorsing lazy, vulgar, and “broken” English — the equivalent, perhaps, of acknowledging “txt-speak” or Internet slang as a valid form of expression. Recognizing and fostering the use of informal, culturally-specific spoken language, say those detractors, traps users in a kind of linguistic ghetto in which they can interact with other disenfranchised and excluded citizens, but cannot engage within the public sphere in a meaningful way. Because of the dominance of Standard English in the United States, Ebonics-only speakers are essentially unable to go to university and work in high-valued professions, and they are unlikely to be electable to any kind of public office (even in areas with a high density of black residents, those who lose their Ebonics-tinged speech patterns tend to be more trusted).

Psychology professor Ladonna Lewis Rush has noted, however, that the OUSD’s resolution did not promote Ebonics instruction as an alternative to Standard English in an either-or approach but was intended to provide a better springboard for black achievement in English education. The systematic devaluation of Ebonics in American society parallels. Rush has argued, the devaluation of African-Americans in general While a demeaning attitude can lead to social exclusion, teachers are suggested to think infusively and encourage Ebonics speakers to use and celebrate their way of speaking while understanding that the language of the workplace, and of academics, is Standard English. Nobel Prize-winning journalist Toni Morrison has also found a reciprocal, mutually enriching use for both Ebonics and Standard English. “There are certain ideas and ways of thinking I cannot say without recourse to my Ebonics, language … I know the Standard English. I want to use it to restore the other language, the lingua franca.”

In the media, the Ebonics controversy has mostly been portrayed as a revival of black-versus-white confrontation — this time over linguistic differences — but journalist Joan Walsh thinks there are bask elements inherent in the dispute that people do not want to openly discuss. She considers that there is increasing resentment by black parents and teachers who see enormous amounts of federal and state support going into Asian and Latino bilingual programmes. As immigration continues to increase, a greater proportion of the school budget is going into these programmes. The question has to be raised: why should immigrant children get English-language assistance as well as reinforcement of their own language and culture while native-born African-Americans get no such resources? Walsh maintains inner-city black children are more isolated than in the past and have less social interaction with those fluent in Standard English. For this reason, they need help by trained teachers to translate the native tongue they hear at home into the English of the classroom.

Ebonics should be treated as a black contribution to culture in the way that jazz and rock-and-roll has been welcomed — the new vocabulary and imagery has added to the American language rather than devalued it. In Walsh’s eyes, there has always been “white mistrust of how black people handle their business” but “in the public realm, white disdain yields block intransigence more reliably than ‘P comes before e’”.

Questions 27-30
Complete the summary below. Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer.

Ebonics originated from the (27)…………………………..The prisoners found a way to talk to other enslaved Africans as well as to (28)……………………………….In southern USA, several African languages mixed with English and the local (29)………………………………Over time, many distinctive (30)…………………………have been added to produce the Ebonics language of today.

Questions 31-37
Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-K below. Write the correct letter, A-K, in boxes 31 —37 on your answer sheet.

31 In 1996, the Oakland Unified School District passed a measure
32 According to John Rickford, it is a good idea when teaching Standard English
33 Linguists studying Black speech patterns are only able
34 The LSA nilcd that definitions of “dialect” and “language” are generally a way
35 Critics of vernacular alternatives to Standard English tend
36 Ladonna Lewis Rush argues that it is important for educators
37 Toni Morrison finds it necessary

A to use Ebonies in order to express specific concepts
B to recognise the genetic differences between African-American students and others
C to acknowledge the systematic differences that Ebonics speakers must learn to overcome
D to consider Ebonics as lazy English rather than a unique form of expression
E to admit Ebonics users to university to gain more knowledge
F to make a statement about particular geo-societal relationships
G to compare Scandinavian languages and Chinese dialects
H to declare Ebonics an independent language, not a variation on English
I to honour positive aspects of Ebonies, while emphasising the necessity of Standard English for formal use
J to approve the language of text messaging as a legitimate mode of communication
K to describe how Ebonics has developed without dictating rules for proper usage

Questions 38-40
Choose THREE letters A-G. Write the correct letters in boxes 38-40 on your answer sheet.

Which THREE statements below represent the views of Joan Walsh?

A Linguistic issues are impeding black academic success rather than social issues.
B Ebonics deserves to be considered as nothing less than a gift to American society.
C Children of non-English-speaking immigrants should be denied access to limited educational resources.
D Ebonics is a debate that reflects rising multi-minority tensions and frustration over funding issues.
E Ebonics is just another hostile encounter between black and white opponents.
F Many urban African-American children do not have the same exposure to accepted norms of English that they used to.
G Blacks need more flexibility in their dealings with the white public.

Show answers

1. ix
2. viii
3. iii
4. vii
5. i
6. v
7. received wisdom
8. consumables
9. licensing agreement
10. habit forming
11. social cost
12. conditional
13. anti-competitive behavior
14. tie-down cables
15. bridge deck
16. hydraulic dampers
17. longitudinal
18. transverse
19. butterfly
20. aerostatic flutter
21. wind
22. energy
23. oscillations
24. (excessive) strain
25. B
26. D
27. slave trade
28. their captors
29. dialect
30. components
31. H
32. C
33. K
34. F
35. D
36. I
37. A
38. B
39. D
40. F

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