Guy Gets $273 Worth Of Free Stuff From Various Companies Just By Asking

A blogger decided to stage an experiment, buying $39 worth of stamps to send letters to random companies asking them for free stuff. His haul justified the up-front expense several times over, netting him $273 worth of freebies.

Peruse his list at The $39 Experiment and you may question the value of some of the items the blogger received, but there are some unqualified gems in the mix. A free jar of lip balm! Free cans of tuna! Dog toys and snacks!

If this guy tried an email experiment he could have added even more to his profit margin, but we suppose there’s still something magical about mailing a real letter.

The $39 Experiment: Asking Random Companies for Free Stuff [The $39 Experiment]
(Thanks, Nick!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. DanRydell says:

    … 4 years ago

  2. obits3 says:

    I love the keychain ones. I should try that with Ford.

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Much of this was coupons, which is not like getting anything free at all.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Coupons are almost like getting free stuff to some of us. Also, sending snail mail to companies is a technique that lots of couponers use successfully. I’ve ended up with a number of free or nearly free items.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Being required to spend $6 to save $0.50 is not saving money.

        It’s a name brand product, which I can get for half the price as generic to begin with.

        • jessjj347 says:

          But not when you combine with store coupons and get it free ;)

        • lvixen says:

          I love store brands also, sometimes more so than the national brand. However, there are SOME things that I only buy the NB. So I love coupons. Yes, sometimes they aren’t worth it. 1.00 off of 4 boxes of cereal. Uh, not at the prices of cereal. But there are a lot of good ones out there.

      • Chaosium says:

        “Coupons are almost like getting free stuff to some of us.”

        If you want to buy the (oft overpriced) product, that is. Also, my time’s worth more than 50 cents.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      You can get a lot of coupons free on the internet by just printing them out, I bet the cost to print them is less than the cost of the stamp + envelope + run to the post office to mail the letter. I know campbells offers coupons online all the time. If you didn’t have a printer or access to one you could always call them up and tell them your situation, I am sure they would send the coupons out.

    • ellemdee says:

      If you know what you’re doing, coupons can make many items free or even profitable to buy. When I was a hardcore couponer, I would easily save 80% or more on stuff I actually needed and was going to buy anyway.

  4. Consumer David says:

    I’d like to see someone take this to the next level with a product name and corporate email address scraper program + email merge software.

  5. liamarbetman says:

    yeah, but did he pass summer school?

  6. framitz says:

    Based on the cost of stamps, his labor and the fact that most of what he received is basically trash he came out on the losing end IMHO.

    I did as good or better without even trying three years ago. I announced the birth of my grand daughter to co-workers, friends, and family. Someone put my info on a bunch of sites without my permission. I was receiving free stuff from various business’s for over a year.

    • SpamFighterLoy says:

      Dude, that comes from the hospital. They sell your name & address to baby companies. Have been doing so for a looooong time.

  7. David Millar says:

    Old story is old, but when I first read about it, I was inspired to do the same with companies that produce graph paper since it’s the most expensive thing ever. ($3.99 for an 80 page notebook in many places.)

    I ended up getting mostly no responses and one company told me to ask for free samples from their local vendors, but one amazing company (embarrassingly I don’t remember which one at the moment) sent me a big box of graph paper pads. Some of them were slight misprints that couldn’t have been sold anyway, but it was all good, usable graph paper.

  8. KlueBat says:

    My favorite?

    His letter to Durex signed, “Tom Locke, intercourse enthusiast”

    I need to make up some new business cards!

  9. FatLynn says:

    Did he go out of his way to sound like a total asshole in most of the letters?

  10. humphrmi says:

    I remember when I was a pre-teenager, there was a company that sold a guide book, which basically collected all the freebies that companies were willing to give away to anyone that asked, along with contact info. This was waaaaaaaaay before Al Gore invented The Internets, so everything required mailing the company a request.

    I got some pretty good schwag.

    • StitchPirate says:

      I had that book at that age, too! It was pretty awesome as I recall, though most of the things I got were stickers.

    • mandy_Reeves says:

      yes! we had that book at home too! it was awesome! I once wrote by snail mail to different states requesting info about going on vacation there…got a lot of awesome magazines and coupons from the tourist office

  11. Burzmali says:

    Old or not, I think it’s pretty neat. The canned air alone was worth about 30% of his investment. That stuff’s expensive for what it is.

  12. Captain Walker says:

    I know a lady who did even better, and it didn’t cost her $39!

  13. Macgyver says:

    This is more then 4 years. Phil, are you drunk? You shouldn’t be drinking during work.
    Today there are hundred of freebie sites out there that you don’t need to do it the way he did.

  14. trentblase says:

    That’s cool. You can save the $39 and just go out on the street and ask people for money. It actually works pretty well.

  15. no says:

    I once emailed Turkey Hill about some batches of ice cream I had that were bad (they weren’t mixed right, all the “add-ins” were settled to the bottom like they’d melted and refrozen). I got a bunch of coupons (probably $20 worth of coupons), some refrigerator magnets and a calendar. This was a couple years ago and I’ve gotten annual calendars every year since

    It’s about time for the 2011 calendar to come soon, actually…

  16. kitsu says:

    Several years ago after a trip to Scotland I filled out an online contact form to the makers of Irn-Bru (regional soft-drink)… I wanted a poster they had been using around Edinburgh at the time (a sad looking goth-guy with text ‘Cheer up, Goth! Have an Irn-Bru!’) – despite needing to send it in a tube to the US, they sent me that plus some others just for asking.

    @humphrmi – I think the magazine was called “Freebies” iirc.

  17. 4Real says:

    Wait did anyone read through the letters he sent. He sent one to Durex condoms stating that he is to large for the XL size condoms and needed bigger size.. I think thats why they didnt send him any they thought it was a joke.. hahaha

  18. ellemdee says:

    I emailed Hidden Valley about a bad experience I had with a bottle of their Ranch and a pipe wrench. Aaaaaanyway, they sent me coupons for 6 free bottles.

    When my sister gets bored, she starts calling phone numbers on the back of packages to complain about their products and see what they’ll send her for free.

    • milrtime83 says:

      Yeah, it never hurts to email a customer service/comment address with (preferably legitimate) complaints or comments in general. I’ve gotten a coupon for a free box of Lucky Charms for simply asking why they switched to smaller marshmallows.

  19. spindle789 says:

    How many posts are there going to be that are past their “sell by” date?

  20. JonThomasDesigns says:

    This isn’t exactly how it happened , but basically i wrote Sony to tell them i loved SONY HDTVs and wanted to Buy a $15,000 Projector but the 60″ SXRD i bought crapped out and i dont trust them anymore .. so i was contacted and was offered a 60″ LED LCD brand new for $300 .. Yes they were offering various deals to people who had these SXRD crap models but i was told a flat out no about a 60″ until i mentioned i was looking to buy a top of the line projector at a later date .. And subconsciously it worked on me because i went from resenting SONY to being a customer for life even though i was ripped off once

  21. txhoudini says:

    Reading the letters he sent one can tell that he wasn’t just a fan of the product. The companies that sent him something could tell he was doing a book (ala The Lazlo Letters) or a website and sent him something so it looks good.

  22. ElizabethD says:

    His letters are hysterical. They should be made into one of those little hardcover books Hallmark sells near its card displays.

  23. mdoneil says:

    This may have worked when stamps were thirty nine cents.

  24. kouotsu says:

    I am surprised Gillette didn’t send him anything. I once got a free razor in the mail from them on my birthday.

    ….Not really sure how they know my birthday!

    • Randomeis says:

      The consumer lists that are made have much more info than just your birthday. There is very little that they don’t know.

  25. Raj says:

    The gas tank on my friends’ 4×4 was leaking, so we did some research and found a sealant from 3M; the only problem is that a small tube of it costs over $100. So, I wrote to the company and said I’d like to try out a small sample to see if it would work, if that was okay with them. They sent me a whole tube!

  26. Raj says:

    The gas tank on my friends’ 4×4 was leaking, so we did some research and found a sealant from 3M; the only problem is that a small tube of it costs over $100. So, I wrote to the company and said I’d like to try out a small sample to see if it would work, if that was okay with them. They sent me a whole tube!

  27. crazydavythe1st says:

    I’m easily amused of course, but the Safeway one was hilarious.

  28. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    “Just asking” works. What’s the worst that can happen? They say “no.”

    As an avid golfer, I’ve used this tactic to get many a company-logo’d golf ball from business visits or contacts. I’ve never used it for anything serious or valuable, and honestly, I do get shot down 9 out of every 10 times……but it can never hurt to ask.

  29. sopmodm14 says:

    pretty fun experiment

    it says alot for the company, which is cost effective PR and advertising via word of mouth

    i know when my aroma rice cooker broke, i asked them for a repair manual or warranty info, and i got no response, i told EVERYONE i know not to purchase from them ever again

    not alot of ppl use hand written letters via snail mail anymore, so sending one requires effort and a personal touch or sentiment

    so for companies to not respond at all is a bit insulting, considering we support them by using their products and services

  30. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    There was a kid I went to school with who got free swag on a regular basis this way. He’d write a letter to the company that made the fish patties he ate at a local restaurant, tell them how much he loved them, and get a free case of fish in the mail. Or even cough drops…lots of stuff.

  31. Rhizzo says:

    So correct me if I’m wrong but the only hypothesis I can reach based off this experiment is this – snail mail or not, spamming people works. Keep doing it. They’ll eventually give you free stuff to get you to go away.

  32. Mclick says:

    Just think about how many mailing or marketting lists this guy is going to end up on by sending his information into these companies. Is the years work of junk mail with his name and address on it worth the free burger coupons or $0.50 coupons off his next hand sanitizer purchase.

  33. Sardis says:

    Sounds like a fools errand. Enjoy your key chains.

  34. DashTheHand says:

    Looks like the pet toy/treats were all a lock on getting stuff. I’d imagine its because pet lovers are better people. That and the competition in that market is insane on quality products.

  35. exoxe says:

    That’s like a dollar an hour!

  36. mandy_Reeves says:

    I did this with email, and hershey sent me like 6 coupons for free bags of hershey kisses…pepsi sent me some coupons, I got free food from Taco Bell…