Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The $39 Experiment

This site describes an experiment where a guy mailed letters to various companies asking for free stuff. He keeps updates on who gives him rejections and who sends him free stuff. Some of the letters are fairly entertaining:

To McDonalds:

Dear Sir or Madam:
You may love to see me smile, but I, however, love to see me eat. Please send me coupons for free McDonald's product, so that I may continue to eat (and smile).
Thank you well in advance, Tom Locke, eating enthusiast

To Nylabone:

Dear Sir or Madam:
My dog (a random mutt) loves your "Healthy Edibles" bones. I wanted to name the dog "Bonecrusher", but my wife ended up naming him "Rudy Huxtable". What a stupid name for a dog. Anyway, your bones are the only thing that stops this dog from molesting my leg while I'm working on the computer. Any chance you could send over some free samples? My dog – and my leg – would greatly appreciate it! Thanks well in advance, Tom Locke, "keeping my dog off of my leg" enthusiast
He has already gotten more responses than I thought he would. Any predictions for what type of companies are likely to give him free stuff? Any explanation for the type of companies who already have? If you had to pick another company that he did not choose that you think would be very likely to send you free stuff if you asked, which would you choose?

(Source: Marginal Revolution)


Anonymous said...

By Daniel:
I find this whole experiment to be extremely funny but also a gigantic waste of time and effort. It actually seems like something Richard would do if he weren't so lazy. However, given that this guy did decide to conduct this test, it is interesting to see how the companies responded.
Almost all of the companies that responded with freebies were not food companies. I guess most of them just did not want to send food in the mail and thought it was waste to send a few coupons. Many of the companies who sent their products were smaller businesses, probably hoping to get their product out there. They probably got really happy when they saw someone was that interested in their product. Big companies, however, probably would not spend more than 2 seconds reading the letter and throwing it in the trash. If I could get free stuff, I'd probably send a letter to Panasonic and ask for a free flatscreen and hope it just showed up the mail...

Daniel Hanison said...

I also agree that its a gigantic waste of time. From what I could see most of the companies sent coupons. You can get these kind of coupouns at the grocery store or target so its really not putting the company out to give them to you. As Daniel already said it helps them get their product out there and might even help brand loyalty if Tom Locke actually decides to pay for something. I would try to see if Apple would like to give me free ipod or bmw to give me a new car!

Jessica Wetstone said...

One thing I noticed is that the lower the cost of what he asked for, the more likely the company was to give it to him which makes sense (like the none of the hotels responded). Some of the companies that responded were pretty big, like Pepsi. Maybe companies that get written often and have customer service departments were more likely to respond than those that don't, like grocery stores and food factories. Most of his letters were pretty creepy too and people might have been afraid to respond.

Sam Ulrich said...

I think that companies that he does not personally benefit from will be more likely to give him a free sample or free stuff and companies that will be more likely to set up a long lasting "relationship" will be as well. I doubt McDonald's would send him stuff while purina would because the Mcdonald's makes him sound jealous while the purina note is humurous and for someone else. If he asked a company that already gave away free samples like a gum company such as orbit I think that they would give him the samples being that they already have pre packaged samples

Anonymous said...

i agree with sam... companies that already give away free samples are probably going to be the ones to go ahead and give tom the free samples. Although it might be a bit of a waste of time like some people claim... i think its an entertaining experiment that could be just done for laughs... and maybe not the benefit of 40 cents on a sandwich. The lower cost of the product, the more likely a company would be to give coupons on their products. I might try charmin toilet paper because its cheap and they already give coupons.

-kelly gaetano

ps... i know this is a tid late but please count it if you see this