The word ‘free’ is commonly misused.
To some of us it means getting something without having to pay for it. Then there are those of us who are extremely skeptical of anything presented as “free” and keep a wary eye out for hidden costs (perceived or real).
It’s not difficult to see where this skepticism comes from. In the world of business, ‘free’ isn’t always used in the same context as its most popular interpretation – ‘completely without cost’. To be honest, some blame also lies with marketers who have over the years falsely used claims of freebies only to blatantly lure people in. Caveats associated with a freebie? That does not make any sense. Why would you call it free if it isn’t actually so?
In defense of freebie sites, however, the samples offered are genuinely free. But these are requested by visitors in hopes that they will be delivered. But sometimes that does not happen. Sometimes you request a sample and it never arrives and that gives rise to anger. One feels they have been fooled, and their time wasted (having filled out elaborate forms and what not prior to placing the request).
We understand this sentiment very well, which is why we are writing this 3-part guide hoping to clear some air.
In this part we take a detailed look at how sites providing free samples work. In the process we bust a lot of myths and clear up misunderstandings so that you are able to make better use of your time spent with us.
With that out of the way, let’s dive straight into what constitutes a freebie site and how it all comes together.
Freebie sites, What are they and how do they work?
So-called “freebie sites”, including the one you are on right now, are just platforms or directories which list the free products that other companies have put up for grabs.
We aren’t the ones providing any free products; we merely give you the information what companies are offering what samples, and what you as the visitor need to do in order to claim their offer.
You will have noticed that when you click on a link to a free sample from any of our pages, you are taken away from this website to the one responsible for putting up the sample. Should you choose to proceed with placing a request for a free sample with this company, it will be all between you and them. We will effectively be the third party.
You could think of us as the messenger that finds you companies offering freebies and lets you know where they are. We do our best to find samples that appear to be legitimate, filter out obvious scams, and present them to you in an organized and easy to understand manner that clearly spells out any of the fine print that you would want to know about.
But the catch to the overall system of getting freebies online is that after you place a request for a sample it may never actually be sent to you. Which nicely brings us to our next point.
The samples are free, but not guaranteed
To explain why this is, we will have to give you a brief idea about why companies give out free samples in the first place.
Short answer, marketing purposes. Long answer, here we go.
Say Company X is about to launch a new product in the market. The product is unique, and obviously nobody has heard about it. Depending on how ambitious the company is with this product, it will unfurl a marketing campaign. There are many parts to a typical marketing campaign, and one of them will be (or could be) distribution of free product samples. The company announces this offer on its website (or via its preferred mode of communication) in hopes of getting people interested in its products.
This often works like a charm.
What the freebie sites do is source the links to free samples from around the Web, and visitors to these sites are directed to the individual companies offering the free products.
If something takes your fancy, you place a request for it. (Please note that you don’t place an order, but a request.) The company’s website asks you to sign up with them. They ask for your mailing address and other information. (If you feel uncomfortable divulging personal information, you can back off at any point.) Sometimes you may even have to take a survey. The idea here is for the company providing free samples to gain market intelligence and/or your contact information.
Now that you are on their mailing list, they have what they wanted – information about a new potential customer whom they can (theoretically speaking) turn into a real customer via targeted marketing. So you get your product and they get your contact details. Both get what they had set out to achieve. So you both should be happy.
And you would be, too, except that sometimes you will not receive the samples you had asked for.
You want to know why that is. Is the company not legitimate? (More on that later.) Was the offer bogus? Was it just a trap, a cheap ploy to lure you in? It may not have been any of the above. Everything from the company to the free sample offer may well have been legitimate, and yet it is possible, in fact, very likely for you not to have received anything. And here’s why.
The early bird gets the worm
Companies only make available a certain number of free samples. And these are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.
The number of people hunting for free samples is very high. The number of free samples available, in comparison, is rather limited.
It is entirely possible for a company to receive way more requests than it can handle within the first few hours of announcing a free product offering. In fact, it is entirely possible (if not highly likely) for a free sample to be completely “sold out” within hours of its launch.
Even if you are just a few hours late in spotting an offer and signing up for it, thousands of others like you will have beaten you to it, though only some of them will actually receive a sample, according to how many samples the company has allocated.
This problem is only compounded by the super fast nature of technology.
A good analogy (and one that isn’t too far off) would be that of sending out online applications to openings seen on job boards. Getting a response can take a lot of tries. Why is that? Because according to those who recruit, their inboxes are flooded with resumes within hours of making live a job advert. There’s more stuff in there than anybody can handle and they don’t even go through all the resumes, much less scan them to find the ‘right’ candidates.
Something similar happens with companies giving away free products. They are simply inundated with requests and there are only so many they can handle.
But there’s more to it than just being early.
Depending on the company and offer, a number of factors may determine who receives the samples. One of the most common criteria is to prefer those who aren’t too far away.
Simply put, the further your location from the distribution point for the company whose free samples you are interested in, the higher the shipping costs the company will incur in sending you that product. And the higher the shipping costs, the lesser the chances of you receiving the sample.
If you think about it from the company’s point of view, it simply does not make any sense to incur high shipping costs on a product they are not even charging for. They might as well find somebody closer by and save on those costs. The company may not have the resources to distribute the product far and wide. And even with those who do, it doesn’t make much sense unless it’s a wide-reaching mass campaign.
So to sum up, free samples are meant to be sent out to those who request them, but that does not mean you are entitled to those products just because you requested them. You may or may not receive the samples depending on a number of factors, which you may know nothing about. Always keep that in mind when placing sample requests. One might think that makes placing requests for free samples futile, but nothing could be farther from the truth. All it means is that in order to increase your chances of getting free samples you will have to increase the number of requests you make. By simply requesting a lot of samples you will be much more likely to get some of them sent to you. If some of them don’t arrive, you just have to look at that as something that is to be expected and goes with the territory.
How to find and request free samples
Who doesn’t like a box of goodies waiting for them, especially one they haven’t even paid for? It’s like receiving a well-meaning gift that never fails to excite!
Free samples are a bit like that and requesting them is fairly straightforward. You simply follow the procedure stated by the company you are interested in receiving the samples from.
The problem with most free stuff, however, is that it is never announced, simply launched. So the only way for you to receive more is to remain ‘in the know’.
Finding free samples yourself is a very time consuming matter. Checking the websites of major companies looking for new offers, checking Google, forums, and news sources for companies offering free samples takes up a tremendous amount of time. Not to mention the fact that you have to filter out scams, and offers that just seem too good to be true (if it seems that way it probably is).
This is where freebie sites come in. Websites like this one who take the time to find these freebies on a regular basis and organize them for you will be an invaluable tool in your freebie hunting journey. It’s totally possible to still hunt freebies without them, but why would you want to spend all that time when someone else has already done the legwork for you? So we recommend getting to know a few freebie sites that you like to check and use them to find samples to request on a regular basis.
Dealing with cluttered In-boxes
If you are going to be active in looking for samples, you will have lots of emails in your Inbox in no time. That is simply how it is, so we recommend setting up a separate e-mail address just for requesting samples.
The reason this happens is that each time you sign up to request a free sample from a company, they put you on their mailing list. And the more companies you request samples from, the higher the number of mailing lists you will find yourself on. You may or may not end up receiving the samples you requested but you definitely will end up receiving their newsletters and promotional offers. This will go on until you choose to unsubscribe from the mailing lists. Often this is very simple and only requires you to click on the ‘Unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of an email. (If that doesn’t work, reply to their e-mails with word the “unsubscribe” or visit the company website to find out what you can do.)
Again, We recommend creating a separate email account for your free sample hunting purposes so that your main e-mail address doesn’t get cluttered.
To wrap it all up
In this post we looked at the nature of freebie sites, how they function, why companies offer free product samples, and how they decide who will receive them. We hope this has cleared some confusion at your end and helped you better understand where you fit in the larger scheme. So the next time you order a free product sample and do not receive it, don’t get discouraged. There is a process behind receiving free samples on a regular basis that you need to understand. We have started on that with this post, and will take it further in the next one. Keep reading to find out how to steer clear of bogus offers and focus your time and energy on maximizing your chances of receiving lots of legit free samples.