At a former job, I once had the task of handing out promotional Frisbees from the company car at a parade. As we made our way down the street, my co-worker and I would periodically toss a flying disc toward a parade-goer.
We were quickly mobbed. Parents and children alike swarmed the car. They started to reach inside the car and take handfuls of the free discs.
We had to yell at people to step back onto the sidewalk because we were afraid someone would get hurt.
All for a freakin’ free Frisbee. Really.
I’ve also worked at a job where we gave away promotional freebies at the local county fair. People would think our free pencils were their opportunity to never buy pencils again.
And now I’m seeing greediness in the blogosphere: Folks signing up for different accounts under different e-mails so they can get free photo prints or candy or whatever. I’ve seen other folks who sign up their mother, mother-in-law, children, and every other relative under the sun so that they can get extra coupons for products or free samples.
I find it really sad. It’s wrong to be greedy about freebies.
Consider the following:
When you abuse companies’ generosity, they may decide to put a stop to free samples. And when you abuse their generosity, everyone ends up paying more at the stores.
Consider the purpose of the freebie. What is the company trying to sell you? If you aren’t interested in buying, then don’t let them market to you.
Don’t request freebies that aren’t meant for you. If you’re not in the military, don’t pretend you are to get a freebie intended for military families. If you’re not a school teacher, don’t request free children’s workbooks that are supposed to be available to schools. These companies are trying to market their products to specific people, and when you fraudulently claim a freebie, you are undermining their efforts.
How much do you really need? Are you requesting freebies just to request them? Do you even want the product? Just because it’s free, it doesn’t mean you need to take it.
Limit yourself. Do you need 8 versions of the same free sample or coupon? Probably not. Share the wealth and let other folks have a chance at the free stuff. Companies that see they can reach a wide audience will be more likely to continue to reward customers with freebies.
Freebies have an environmental impact. It costs money to manufacture and distribute these free samples and coupons. If you’re not going to use the product, then it is a waste of those resources. And if you throw it away…. well that’s even worse in terms of environmental impact. Only request what you will use or what you know you can give to others.
I love freebies. But it is important to be responsible in your freebie gathering. Only request what you will use.
And remember to be grateful. I’m amazed at the number of people who complained about the free grilled chicken at KFC last month. KFC didn’t have to give away any chicken… and when there were some problems with the distributions of their coupons, they apologized and even added a free Pepsi into the meal and that STILL wasn’t good enough for some folks.
Be thankful for what companies are willing to send. Yes, they’re trying to sell you something. But they’re also helping you to stretch your hard-earned money. It seems like a good deal to me!