In 2006, self-described "average guy" Tom Locke decided to see what he could get companies to send him for free by mailing out 100 letters. 100 stamps at the time cost $0.39 each (remember those pre-Forever Stamp days?), leading him to name the venture The $39 Experiment.
Locke wrote fairly honest (and often hilarious) notes to 100 companies requesting specific free stuff from each, and sent them to addresses he found mostly on products themselves. He documented the whole process, including the actual letters he sent. For example:
Eight in One Pet Products (#50)
Dear Sir or Madam:
I own a Rottweiler named Sir Shagwell. I am writing to you on both Shagwell's behalf, as well as my own. Before I feed Shagwell any type of pet snacks, I personally sample them to assess their quality and flavor. After all, if I think they taste bad, what is Shagwell expected to think? I just wanted to let you know that your "Dingoroo" dog treats taste excellent, and Sir Shagwell agrees with me. I would like to request free samples of any similar treats you may have available. I appreciate the quality that obviously goes into making your products. Thank you well in advance,
Tom Locke, pet product enthusiast
Response: YES! $25 worth of free dog snacks
The table showing all his letters and responses (scroll down about two screens down the page) is a hoot. In total, Locke received $272.93 worth of free stuff, generally in the form of coupons. Locke is apparently cooking up another $39 experiment, but no details have been posted yet.
So tell me, dear readers: have you ever written to a company and gotten free stuff? When I was a kid I was sure that as a grownup I'd sit around writing companies and getting free stuff...but now I never seem to get around to it.