Most ice cream stores shops will allow customers to sample flavors before making a purchase. It makes perfect sense for ice cream stores to do that because it lets the ice cream sell itself. The same is true in cheese shops and many other specialty stores. Free samples are great, but they are just that — samples. People looking for great values do not want free samples. They want free products!
Fortunately, although stores are in the business of selling merchandise, and thus not likely to give it away for free, there are several sources for free products that savvy shoppers can exploit. The free products are still “samples,” but they are far larger than the samples at an ice cream parlor.
The other day, for example, I went with one of my sons to a doctor’s appointment. My wife reminded my son that he needed to have his prescriptions refilled while he was there. I reminded him to ask for free samples of his prescription medication. He looked at me somewhat cluelessly so I explained to him that pharmaceutical sales representatives will give doctors free samples of medications so that the doctors can let their patients try a drug before filling a prescription. It helps the doctors, the pharmaceutical companies and the patients.
Doctors, however, do not usually feel a vested interest in limiting samples to one per patient. In the case of my son’s visit to his doctor, the doctor gave him a three month supply of an inhaler that my son will be using for the next 9 months, at a cost of about $60 per month. With the free samples, fully a third of my son’s cost was absorbed.
Patients should never visit a doctor without asking for samples of their prescription medications. If your family has a lot of prescriptions, the savings can be huge throughout the year. Usually the samples will last for at least a month. Here are a few other businesses that may be happy to give you free products:
Veterinarians: If you have pets, your veterinarian may have free samples of medications that your dog or cat needs to take. Just as you would with your own doctor, don’t leave the veterinarians office without asking for samples before you depart. As with your own doctor’s office, free samples from the vetrinarian will usually last for at least a month.
Pet Food Companies: When we got our dog, we did not know the brand of pet food that we wanted to use. I contacted several companies and received free samples of their products. It is not good to change a dog’s brand of pet food regularly, as it can be hard on a dog’s stomach, but it was great to be able to try several different brands to determine which he would actually eat. Much of the free dog food that we received ended up being thrown away, but we found a brand that he would actually eat and did not have to spend what would have been about $100 if we had purchased all of the samples that we received.
Diaper Companies: Many diaper companies will send expectant parents free samples of their products. The companies know that once a parent decides on a brand of disposable diaper, they are not likely to switch brands. Giving free samples is one way that diaper companies can help to ensure that they are the brand of choice.
Beauty Products: Hair salons often have samples of products that they will give away to their patrons as do cosmetic counters at department stores. Sample size is often small, but occasionally a good sized sample may be available.
I’ve tried to get into the habit of looking for opportunities to ask for free samples whenever I visit a website or a service provider. I do not expect retailers to give me anything for free, but I know that manufacturers and service providers have a vested in interest in getting me hooked on their products. Those are the people and companies who are likely to give up a few freebies.
Do you look for opportunities to get free merchandise? What companies, in your experience, are quick to give away free products?