I hope this works
April 5, 2016 9:24 AM   Subscribe

 
But did anyone send free stuff? That's what I want to know, like I want a bullet in my head Poppa Jeff's PizzaBlastrTM in my oven.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 AM on April 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


I created a website asking for free stuff. It was basically nothing more than a mail merge in the back and a form letter asking for stuff. I sent out about 200 letters to products that I like. I sent physical letters, but I intended to open the idea up to email as well (and to even outsource the asking).

I got back about 40 packages.

I also got a call from a CEO of a major home automation company (later acquired by google). He wanted to find out if I typically got free stuff from companies just for writing them. It was surreal and weird. We chatted for a while about writing and social media and he offered me a discount, but said he couldn't send me one for free because they were a for profit company. The guy understood I was pulling his chain, but he couldn't figure out why, and he seemed to genuinely want to know. I figured if he was capable of understanding he already would. It was really a same planet different worlds conversation, because he had more money than I would see in 1,000 lifetimes, and I was an online idiot.

The site never really held my interest beyond that initial batch of letters, but the idea was to then feature a product that was sent to me for free on a weekly basis. I still have the site up, and 3 years on I still occasionally get something for free in the mail.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:38 AM on April 5, 2016 [42 favorites]


That was one of the dumbest things I've ever read and I just watched a cracked-out Sarah Palin.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:44 AM on April 5, 2016 [17 favorites]


Back in high school, I knew someone who counted out all the hair bands in a pack that was supposed to hold 1000, but it came up to 870 or something. She wrote the company a physical letter to this end, and they sent her what would be a lifetime of hair things.

Most mass-produced things are cheap in small quantities, and it's cheaper to make someone happy who might then tell others about the free thing they got, compared to 1) paying for advertising, or 2) the cost of one angry person who rants about how terrible that company is for short-changing them on things.

Probably better than filling out surveys and checking out the myriad of Real Free Stuff websites that abound now. (On this tangent - I requested 10 free stickers, including a political sticker, and expected to get a few within a month or so. Three months later, I only got the political sticker, and that came after a month and a half.)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


A long while ago I sent a physical letter to Progresso complaining that they were putting too much sugar or corn syrup in their soups. I used to like their soup but the sweetness was too much now. They sent back a letter thanking me for my support and a bunch of coupons for soup. Which I would never eat again.

Life is strange.
posted by Splunge at 9:55 AM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wrote an email to Diaya to complain about their new formulation for vegan cheese (it was terrible) and they wrote back that they were switching to the old formula and sent me 15 free coupons for any Diaya product (which is legit like $100 in vegan cheese). Unfortunately all the coupons had already expired, but I appreciated the gesture.
posted by ChrisHartley at 10:02 AM on April 5, 2016 [11 favorites]


I created a website asking for free stuff. It was basically nothing more than a mail merge in the back and a form letter asking for stuff.

Dear Globochem

Someone is trying to kill me! Please send me as many free products as possible.
posted by Hoopo at 10:04 AM on April 5, 2016 [14 favorites]


A friend once found a perfectly flash-fried fly perched on his Maruchan ramen, so he wrote them a letter. They apologized and explained that ordinarily any insects that get into their production line are crushed to unrecognizable grit before they reach consumers. They also included coupons for free Maruchan ramen. I'm still not sure if they were trolling him.
posted by phooky at 10:10 AM on April 5, 2016 [63 favorites]


I also got a call from a CEO of a major home automation company (later acquired by google).

Is this the most half-assed concealed identity ever or has Google acquired more home automation companies than I think?
posted by atoxyl at 10:19 AM on April 5, 2016 [17 favorites]


cjorgensen: What was the best thing you got back? The highest value?

Also:


I also got a call from a CEO of a major home automation company (later acquired by google).... he offered me a discount, but said he couldn't send me one for free because they were a for profit company


*snort*
posted by entropicamericana at 10:33 AM on April 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


They apologized and explained that ordinarily any insects that get into their production line are crushed to unrecognizable grit before they reach consumers...I'm still not sure if they were trolling him.

You may or may not want to Google "peanut butter insect parts".

Also, OT, but holy crap, that Sarah Palin thing. The word salad just keeps getting chopped into ever-finer pieces.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:34 AM on April 5, 2016


I once wrote to Yoplait to complain that their yogurt cup design was stupid: the narrow top coupled with the inward-projecting lip makes it difficult to eat the yogurt. They are actively making accessing their product needlessly complicated, and endangering wildlife in the process. (Seriously, there's a warning on every cup alerting you to the fact that animals get their heads stuck in the containers.) I suggested they just keep the same shape, but put the peel-off lid on the BOTTOM of the cup: Same recognizable iconic packaging design, but consumers flip it upside down to eat it. They declined to change. They didn't offer any coupons.

Thinking about it now, about 98% of the dairy display case in my local grocery is devoted exclusively to Greek yogurt now, so I guess they got what's coming to them in the end. Take that, Yoplait.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:37 AM on April 5, 2016 [14 favorites]


You guys are giving me hope that if I write to Ben&Jerry's and complain whine express my deep sorrow that they seem to have discontinued their very best frozen yogurt flavor ever, maybe I'll get that flavor back get something.



(Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Greek Yogurt, and as much as I realize it would be great fun to enter into a holy war about No, New York Fudge Chunk Is Better etc., I'm going to spoil all your fun and say that I am aware this is a very subjective opinion.)

(Seriously though, Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Greek Yogurt.)

posted by seyirci at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


We bought a 24-pack of Harpoon beer, and it had 12 of one variety, and 0 of another instead of the promised 4x6. They hooked us up with a free brewery tour, and 2 beers and a pretzel each in their beer hall. $27.50 value (by their estimation) for getting different (perfectly fine) beer than expected.

We turned around and bought $40-something worth of beer and glassware while we were there, and now I'm here telling you how cool they are, so I guess that customer service outreach really works.
posted by explosion at 11:05 AM on April 5, 2016 [27 favorites]


What was the best thing you got back? The highest value?

I think the best thing was an unreleased (at that point) Peter Jackson game.

The most expensive was underwear from this company that sold underwear for like $100 a pair. They sent me 4 pairs.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:06 AM on April 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


i used to get 'i bought a beer and it tasted funny' emails all the time and we'd send them a free t-shirt or glass or whatever but then one time i got a 'i bought a beer and it tasted funny, what are you going to do to make this right?' email and i was like oh hell no
posted by beerperson at 11:08 AM on April 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


I need to get my "who would James Bond kill after mixing this cocktail" podcast together and contact some booze companies.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


(Also maybe makers of exotic cars and briefcases that turn into jetpacks)
posted by Artw at 11:16 AM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


phooky: "I'm still not sure if they were trolling him."

"Send this SOB the bedbug letter."
posted by Chrysostom at 11:19 AM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


(sending people booze is dicey because how do you know they aren't underage)
posted by beerperson at 11:22 AM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Because I run a satire/humor site (now in hiatus) I occasionally get someone that reaches out to jerk my chain. Usually I can tell and I playback, but occasionally I get trolled. Once I had contact from a guy who said he was a TV producer. He was pitching a reality TV pilot and wanted to know if I was willing to be in it. The premise was they would have people that would set out to get free stuff from companies. The better the stuff the more points you got, and you would progress onto the next round. So free car ride is great, free car is better. I don't watch reality TV, so none of the shows he mentioned meant anything to me —"It'll be like 'The Most Dangerous Catch,' but with free stuff instead of fish!"— and I was certain he was making this up, but he kept playing back. I'm all like, "How much would I be paid?" It was just a pilot, but if it got picked up they were planning on shooting a dozen episodes, so basically I'd make in 4 weeks what I normally made in 52. Guy had an answer for every question, from where I would stay, to what kind of shooting schedule I'd face. His email was even from a production company that had a real domain and a real client list, but I am a fan of The Yes Men, so I know how that works out.

I have a lawyer, and my lawyer's sister (or some other relative) works in the industry and he said he'd have her look into it. Next day I get an email from her, with my lawyer CCed that says it's on the up and up. So we went back and forth and I am coming up with strategies I can use to get free things. I am imagining myself as a Kato Kaelin of a new generation. I am going to crash at Bruce Willis's house and eat his food and drink his whiskey and get people to give me cars and houses and I am going to win this show! After weeks of having my people ha! talk to their people, they decided to go with a pilot about people building viking boats using traditional building materials and methods. Like I said, I don't watch this stuff, so not sure if that show ever made it past the pilot stage.

I've never told this story before, because at first I was asked to keep it under wraps, then I was told if we ever actually started shooting I'd have to sign all kinds of NDAs. Mostly, it was just another one of those weird things that happen to me and I filed it away. I still have all the emails, so I know it's not just something I imagined, but I know it reads as too strange to be true. I'm still not certain it wasn't all just a perfect and epic troll.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:45 AM on April 5, 2016 [24 favorites]


i used to get 'i bought a beer and it tasted funny' emails all the time and we'd send them a free t-shirt or glass or whatever

"Hey we found a dead mouse in our beer eh. That means you owe us a free case."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:50 AM on April 5, 2016 [14 favorites]


One time I found what I thought was a rock in a bag of Cousin Willie's Popcorn so I sent the company a letter asking what the deal was. I wasn't outraged or anything and the letter was kind of funny and tongue-in-cheek.

I got back a letter from none other than Cousin Fucking Willie himself (or, you know, the marketing team that goes by the name Cousin Willie) explaining that it was a morning glory seed, not a rock, and that's just sort of an occasional thing that turns up in popcorn. He gave me some coupons for popcorn products and an autographed picture of him. It is the only autograph I own, and I cherish it. I should probably frame it.

I also once wrote to Bertucci's restaurant and asked them what the hell they were thinking putting a revolving door in a pizza restaurant when it's pretty much impossible to carry a pizza out a revolving door. I purposely came across as just a little bit crazy. They sent me a terse reply saying they would review the door in question. A few weeks later there were regular doors installed at the restaurant. I didn't get so much as a coupon.
posted by bondcliff at 11:51 AM on April 5, 2016 [25 favorites]


I sent a physical letter to Progresso complaining

At the risk of sounding like a cranky old man, in my experience (okay, in my experience of watching my partner do this) you can almost always get free stuff by venting your complaints about it about it in a letter or their website customer feedback form. But you have to sound angry and be authentic and specific.

Wegman's (our supermarket chain) does a lot of stupid stuff "improving" their own brand of various items, like when they added fish oil to their formerly-great multi-grain wraps so that they were no longer vegetarian, and when they changed the formula of their formerly good-tasting and most-healthy multi-grain bread so that it's noticeably sweet. While they don't always or even usually fix the problem, they do usually send us a coupon or two to placate us.
posted by aught at 11:55 AM on April 5, 2016


They sent me a terse reply saying they would review the door in question. A few weeks later there were regular doors installed at the restaurant.

Yeah, I have a few "successes" when it comes to my humor website.

I wrote the ATF and asked them if there weren't the one governmental agency that perhaps didn't need a children's section on their website. A week later it was gone. Now I am not saying that I made this happen, but I am still taking credit for it.

I also take credit for getting Chinese books into the Malaysia iBooks store. I once decided to outsource my letter writing to India, because I am lazy, and I thought it would be funny, but the woman that actually contacted me for the job was Malaysian. So she wrote Apple a very sincere letter, sort of trying to jerk their chain, but mostly being spot on serious. They blew her off, so she got mad and took it up the chain and CCed Tim Cook. She ends up getting a call from the VP in charge of international book distribution and within a week or so Chinese books were being sold on the iBooks store. They told her is was directly in response to her feedback.

So if you are Malaysian, and you buy books in Chinese, from the iBooks store, you're welcome.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:06 PM on April 5, 2016 [23 favorites]


Pfft. Jay-Z's been doing that since Reasonable Doubt.
posted by lkc at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2016


octobersurprise: ""Hey we found a dead mouse in our beer eh. That means you owe us a free case.""

SIGH. I think you mean:

Yeah. OK, well, uh, we found, uh, this mouse in a bottle of YOUR BEER, eh. Like, we was at a party and, uh, a friend of ours - a COP - had some, and HE PUKED. And he said, uh, come here and get free beer or, uh, he'll press charges.


[/Strange Brew pedantry]
posted by Chrysostom at 12:27 PM on April 5, 2016 [16 favorites]


Oh, geese, I love writing letters to companies. I mean, you always need to have something specific (and real!!) to say, and have an outcome in mind, but I find it really a great way to get things done. Obviously, when they suspect a quality control problem, and you can supply the various barcodes, numbers and dates form packaging, they're usually quite keen.

For example, I found a weird lump of crud in my deodorant once, and got a fistful of coupons in reply. I bought M&Ms at the local Target which turned out to be months stale; I got an envelope stuffed with graft for that one, and while I'd hoped that M&M/Mars would take Target to the woodshed over it, we still find past-date food at that location. I have had stuff break when it's very new, and a clear statement of the problem with a picture resulted in a replacement item being shipped: the Utah company Lifetime, who makes basketball hoops and stuff, is really great about helping out with products that are YEARS old. I had a bottle of Sierra Nevada beer that tasted strange and terrible; after a long correspondence, they decided it was probably Just Me, but then mailed me a bunch of stickers and coasters and a bottle opener and a can cooler and stuff.

Sometimes, of course, the company just doesn't give a hoot, but those are surprisingly few.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:31 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, my sons' Boy Scout troop does a fund-raiser silent auction every fall, and I send out tons of letters and emails. It's amazing how many big companies are willing to help (and must have a budget for it)...yet it also it surprises me how many small, local companies (who presumably live and die by reputation & word-of-mouth) don't even answer the letter.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:33 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I bought M&Ms at the local Target which turned out to be months stale

When I was a kid there was a rumor that if you bought a bag of M&Ms and there were no, say, green ones in it if you wrote to the M&M company they send you a whole bag of just green ones.

I never tried it out and to this day wonder if it was true or just one of those legends kids tell, like how your town was #4 on Russia's nuclear missile target list.
posted by bondcliff at 12:37 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


[/Strange Brew pedantry]

If I didn't have puke breath, I'd kiss you.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:56 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


bondcliff: "your town was #4 on Russia's nuclear missile target list."

This was definitely true because my friend's uncle who works at Nintendo confirmed it.
posted by boo_radley at 1:10 PM on April 5, 2016 [12 favorites]


Many years ago, the Mott's people responded to my online clam activism with a free Clamato tee shirt and several other Clamato-related things, some of which I happened upon this past weekend in a Goodwill pile. I won't say I had a satori, or a terrible vision of the future, but I might go so far as to call it a frisson. Clam juice.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:26 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you write to Heinz and ask, they will send you (up to several each!) small pins shaped like a pickle and like a ketchup bottle. I have a couple of each left, and used to wear a pair on my work ID lanyard.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:39 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I believe this is the link for the Heinz pins, after which you need to specify a location and then scroll down to like Option #13 and select "Other" as the Subject, followed by a suitably polite request:
http://www.heinz.com/our-company/investor-relations/request-information.aspx
posted by wenestvedt at 1:41 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


aught: "I sent a physical letter to Progresso complaining

At the risk of sounding like a cranky old man, in my experience (okay, in my experience of watching my partner do this) you can almost always get free stuff by venting your complaints about it about it in a letter or their website customer feedback form. But you have to sound angry and be authentic and specific.

Wegman's (our supermarket chain) does a lot of stupid stuff "improving" their own brand of various items, like when they added fish oil to their formerly-great multi-grain wraps so that they were no longer vegetarian, and when they changed the formula of their formerly good-tasting and most-healthy multi-grain bread so that it's noticeably sweet. While they don't always or even usually fix the problem, they do usually send us a coupon or two to placate us.
"

Well the whole thing is, I didn't want free stuff. I wanted them to change their recipes, which I understand to be a ridiculous request, because their soup now sucked. I didn't use the coupons because I was no longer eating their product. Still don't.
posted by Splunge at 1:41 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kafkaesque: "Many years ago, the Mott's people responded to my online clam activism with a free Clamato tee shirt and several other Clamato-related things"

Mott's? The applesauce people?
posted by boo_radley at 1:47 PM on April 5, 2016


I wrote a letter a while back to the Frito Lay company about how good their Grandma's Cookies are and made up some story about how they reminded me of MY grandma and its style was very much a rip-off of Ted L. Nancy's Letters from a Nut. They sent me a bunch of cookie and chip coupons.

Tried to work that magic again a while later with Kit Kats. But I was asking them why they refer to the individual sticks of a KitKat bar as fingers if there are only four of them. What about the thumb? The thumb is the short fat uncle of the finger family, etc. And it was all a little forced and maybe not my best work, but you'd think it would still warrant 50cents off or something. No, because Nestle is evil.
posted by GrapeApiary at 1:49 PM on April 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


I wanted them to change their recipes,

Sure, that's what we wanted, too. The fortunate thing about the supermarket coupons is that they were for sections of the store, so for example when we were hating the bread we got coupons good for any pre-packaged bread. Which is how we started buying their competitor, Arnolds.

As far as the sweetness goes, I am not sure if it's us or middle age, but it seems like nearly all food manufacturers are gradually making their products unpleasantly sweet. In my more cynical moments I assume it's part of the overall plot to addict consumers to HFCS, which seems to have the addictiveness of crack. (In my less cynical moments I pretty much assume the same thing, to be honest.) Every once in a while we detox from sugar and realize how much less we're interested in snacking and eating in quantity when evil sugar is out of our systems.
posted by aught at 1:51 PM on April 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


I never tried it out and to this day wonder if it was true or just one of those legends kids tell, like how your town was #4 on Russia's nuclear missile target list.

My town actually is on North Korea's target list, but they also think Colorado is near the Gulf of Mexico, so I'm not too worried.

My story is that I ate some Ben & Jerry's ice cream that had brownie mix instead of actual brownies in it. I told them about it, including lot numbers, and they sent me coupons for about ten bucks worth of free ice cream. I threw them away because I don't eat ice cream often enough to use them before they expired.
posted by Monochrome at 2:13 PM on April 5, 2016


My town actually is on North Korea's target list, but they also think Colorado is near the Gulf of Mexico, so I'm not too worried.

Given the likely accuracy of NK missiles, you should be.
posted by notyou at 2:48 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have a long history of complaining about products and getting coupons for it. I don't make stuff up. But when I buy something and it's wrong, I will usually write to the company about it. The more memorable ones:

1. 25-cent bag of BBQ chips from a work vending machine had like 3 chips and one giant, nasty clump of BBQ seasoning. Got 5 coupons for full-size any Lays product.

2. Maybelline eyeshadow labelled "matte" actually was shimmery. Got a snarky reply and no coupon. In fairness, I may have been the first to launch the snark in my initial email. (This is a pet peeve of mine; I don't want to be covered in shimmer and sparkles during the day but it's nearly impossible to find eyeshadow that is truly matte. So when one labelled as such actually wasn't, I got pretty mad.)

3. Refrigerated ravioli purchased and used within three days (well before the sell by date) was moldy. Got coupons, but accompanied by a somewhat snarky "defect that you attribute to us" line in the accompanying email.

I honestly don't know if I've ever used all of the coupons I've gotten for complaining before they expire; coupons aren't part of my normal grocery routine so I always forget about them.
posted by misskaz at 2:50 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


And speaking of M&Ms and writing to companies, everyone knows about this account of
natural selection in the candy world
, right?
posted by morspin at 3:18 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Am I too late for Strange Brew pendantry???

I'm too late for Strange Brew pedantry. Damn it.
posted by deadaluspark at 3:30 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


yet it also it surprises me how many small, local companies (who presumably live and die by reputation & word-of-mouth) don't even answer the letter.

They should definitely answer, but you might be surprised at how often local business get hit up for donations. Almost always for good causes. But a lot of those places run on pretty thin margins, and if they gave freebies to everyone who asked, it would get pretty expensive for them. I've definitely known business owners who choose to just not do any of them rather than having to pick and choose, and then defend their choices...
posted by primethyme at 3:35 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Personal anecdote here, in respect to small business.

I managed a small grocery store once. I hated it, but that's beside the point.

At one point, a customer came in demanding a refund/replacement for a hair in their ice cream. I attempted to politely point out that our store did not manufacture said ice cream, and that each tin came with a plastic seal that prevented any of the people from working at our store from inserting the hair into the tub. I suggested he take it up with the company that produced the ice cream.

The customer proceeded to go fucking ballistic. Over a $2.99 tub of ice cream, of which me nor any of my employees had control over the quality. The idea that we had no involvement in how this happened didn't matter. To the customer, it was our responsibility to fix it because they purchased it at our store. There was literally no way to reason with this person.

In the end, it was easier for the small business to eat the $2.99 than to have these self entitled little shits believe we were big bad corporate because we didn't want to give them a fucking free tub of ice cream because someone other than us fucked up along the line somewhere.

God I'm so fucking glad I don't work there anymore. People are nightmares.

"Hell is other people."
posted by deadaluspark at 3:44 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh, geese, I love writing letters to companies

Mum, is that you?

My mother is well-known for her letter writing. Her first that I know of was when my brother was born - he's 36 - and she was using Pampers for the first time (I don't know if they'd just been invented or they'd just caught on where we lived - can't be arsed to google - but my sister and I had cloth nappies). She wrote and told them how great they were and how much easier they made her life and they sent her a big box of them. From then on she got the bug and she has written to companies big and small with praise and complaints and suggestions. Sometimes she's gotten free things, sometimes coupons, sometimes nothing. But she always holds out hope and she has no shame.

She got her iPhone repaired a few years ago by a non-Apple person and so then it messed up her contract when she needed a replacement because of another fault. I was down at her house one night and she asked me to proofread a letter saying the policy was unfair. It was addressed to Steve Jobs. When I stopped laughing she huffily closed the letter and told me to forget it. I tried to explain that he didn't personally read random letters from pensioners in small town N Ireland. She said "How do you know?" She never did get any joy from Apple. I think when Jobs died she felt personally aggrieved.
posted by billiebee at 3:46 PM on April 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised the Lazlo Letters hasn't been mentioned yet! I haven't read it in forever but I seem to remember him getting coupons from McDonald's. Nothing from the Nixon administration.
posted by betsybetsy at 3:58 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


prime thyme: But a lot of those places run on pretty thin margins, and if they gave freebies to everyone who asked, it would get pretty expensive for them.

primethyme, I definitely hear you, but at the same small-chain grocery store where we buy the food for all sixty-some kids (plus half a dozen or more adults) for every campout -- in cash -- we never get a single donation, despite asking (only!) once per year, and making sure they know we are the same group.

As a guy who buys local when I can, this place is dead to me and I will buy my milk at the CVS in the same parking lot before I ever darken their doorway again.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:59 PM on April 5, 2016


I was enjoying some Chocolate Peanut Butter Tillamook ice cream and bit down upon a rivet. I assumed it probably fell into the tub as it went along the processing line. I think I ended up calling one of those "if you have a problem with our product" numbers and talked with someone who sounded completely unimpressed with my story. She asked me to send the rivet to her and I agreed I would. As we wrapped up the call I was a little surprised there wasn't any mention of renumeration considering I could've easily chipped a tooth, and so I thought I'll just go ahead and ask for a couple of coupons and she agreed she would send some to me. I threw the rivet in an envelope, bite mark and all, and got two coupons back for some free ice cream.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:44 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I once did kind of the opposite of this. I was at a friend's house during a college break and was doing the sort of thing that college kids on breaks do that leads to late night enjoyment of snack food. I noticed a "comments or questions" phone number on the bag of cheetos or whatever, so I called it and told them their product was delicious and I enjoyed it very much.
I must have left the phone number of the house on the message, because a little while later someone called my friend's parents and asked for their address. This was disturbing and mysterious to my friend, but a thank you box of snack food appeared a little while later and I remembered the complimentary phone call.
posted by flaterik at 4:59 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


We got a box of freebies from the people who make Pirate Booty, which included some stickers mentioning booty which I think I still having, owing to not really being the kind of person who would go about with a sticker saying "Got booty?" on my car or laptop or whatever.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:06 PM on April 5, 2016


Strange Brew pedantry is why I am on Metafilter and not Reddit or something.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:12 PM on April 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


They should definitely answer, but you might be surprised at how often local business get hit up for donations.

I work at a small, local, chef-owned restaurant with a pretty solid reputation. Part of my job is to deal with the donation requests. It never occurred to me, before this job, the number of requests such places get. It's rare that I go a week without one and, some weeks, I get a dozen. Of course since we are a nice romantic restaurant, every single flippin' fundraising dinner wants a gift certificate for their silent auction. I got an email this week from someone wanting a donation for an event in 2 weeks (wtf?! plan ahead!) who made sure to mention how frequent a customer she was and how everyone loves to bid on our gift certificates. One of the joys of OpenTable is that it's really easy to search through the reservation database. She had made 2 reservations, 1 was a no show and 1 was cancelled. I couldn't even tell you the cause (it was some golf outing though), I sent out standard "we request 3 months notice in order to budget for all the worthy causes asking us for crap" rejection letter.

For anyone seeking donations from a small local company...
1) don't say you're a regular customer if you aren't
2) give folks at least a couple weeks heads up a month or two is even better, desks get piled up & things get buried, and budgets need to be accounted for
3) send or bring in a flyer/one sheet. If you're just blind emailing, attach it (and save me the effort of having to email you back to ask for it!). Include specific directions on how donations should be sent or picked up (you'd be surprised by the number of requests we receive without such info). Owners, at least mine, love to have paper that they can read and then file away with what we gave and with...
4) the thank you. Yes! Send a thank you! When we decide on who to give to, if they mention we gave in the past, we sometimes look for a thank you letter. We had a lady come in today to hand deliver the thank you and tell us how much the package went for in the silent auction. Owner loved it. Bet we give her twice as much next year.
posted by imbri at 5:21 PM on April 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


on the bag of cheetos or whatever,

I have been told that the snack in question was Pacific Gold beef jerky and they send a huge box.

My friend has a better memory than I do...
posted by flaterik at 5:33 PM on April 5, 2016


We got a box of freebies from the people who make Pirate Booty, which included some stickers mentioning booty which I think I still having, owing to not really being the kind of person who would go about with a sticker saying "Got booty?" on my car or laptop or whatever.

so what you're saying is I need to write you a letter
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:46 PM on April 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


Trying to get stuff for free even to right an obvious wrong always embarrasses me.

I recently watched someone buy a bottle of wine, chat with the cashier, and leave. She came back in a few minutes later while I was being rung up. Approached a different cashier. Explained that she had--in a way that could not by any stretch of the imagination be attributed to the store--just dropped and broken the bottle of wine outside, and straight up asked if she could just take another bottle.

Not "I just made a bigass mess in your parking lot" or "I broke some glass and someone could get hurt" but "I paid full price for this but then I broke it, can I have another one for free?" None of my business, and the manager was like "LOL um no," but I had a really hard time keeping my damn mouth shut.

I expect this routine actually does work at least some of the time.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:00 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


man I sent a letter to Tom's of Maine complaining that their dental floss packaging proudly states "no animal ingredients" yet their floss contains beeswax and all I got was a lousy form response about how they source their beeswax sustainably or whatever (ignoring my issue that their packaging was a direct lie, bees being animals and all)
posted by Gymnopedist at 6:23 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


This reminds me that I really need to send that letter to Pringles about the can of chips that's been sitting on top of the fridge for months because they are inedibly salty...
posted by clorox at 7:02 PM on April 5, 2016


clorox, luckily I have special facilities for disposing of Pringle's. For a small handling fee, I can take care of those for you --open or still sealed --if you mail them to me. MeMail for the address of the "facility."
posted by wenestvedt at 7:11 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I once got some Mill Street Brewery Organic Lagers that were full of some kind of.. bug pods. I don't know. Egg sacs or something. I was pleased that I opened it and then went to sit out on the deck because they were really only visible in the bright sunlight.

I took some pictures and checked the rest of the beers for the little guys (3 had them, I dumped them.) and then sent them an email just to let them know.

They sent me a whole FLAT of beers!

it was really nice. I wasn't actually expecting anything, but thought maybe their bottle sanitizer should be checked or something.

My brother's roommate almost got hit by a big chunk of snow falling off an awning at a movieplex, and and they sent her a VIP card thing where she didn't have to pay for any movies for her and a guest for a whole year!

squeaky wheel gets the grease, but I still hate complaining.

On the other hand, my $300 Mother brand jeans (a maaaajor splurge for me!) split on the butt along the pocket seam on like the 5th time I wore them, and they never even answered my email telling them that it happened (and specifically NOT requesting a replacement, just an answer.) or my resulting negative nordstroms review which I only put online because they had such bad customer service that they couldn't even acknowledge their crappy quality control? Ugh.
posted by euphoria066 at 7:19 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wegman's (our supermarket chain) does a lot of stupid stuff "improving" their own brand of various items

I'm starting to get into it with Wegmans about the homeopathic products they sell in their pharmacy area. My first email was ignored and the response to the second was basically "The FDA has guidelines for selling these, sorry you don't like it." I think I'll use AskMe to get advice for a pressure campaign to get that useless shit off their shelves.

Great supermarket otherwise.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:15 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


... "I paid full price for this but then I broke it, can I have another one for free?" None of my business, and the manager was like "LOL um no," but I had a really hard time keeping my damn mouth shut. I expect this routine actually does work at least some of the time.

I read in The Unofficial Guide To Disneyland that if you buy ice cream in a Disney park and your kid drops it, you can go back and ask for a replacement. I was somewhat sheepish about testing this out when I was at Disneyland, but when my kid dropped his Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bar, the ice cream cart vendor was indeed perfectly happy to replace it.

Obviously I wouldn't expect a liquor store to replace a broken bottle of wine, but for an operation like Disney, it's actually a very clever policy. The actual marginal cost to them of a new ice cream bar must be miniscule, but now when I think of "ice cream at Disneyland," my immediate association is "They made my kid happy," rather than "They charged me an arm and a leg because I was a captive audience."
posted by yankeefog at 2:40 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


My daughter dropped her ice cream and a Disney employee --who was just walking past, sweeping up trash -- saw her crying and came right over and calmed her down and went to get her a replacement. It was like an ad or a parable or something. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 3:13 AM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Having had a couple of problems at Disney resorts in the past, they can be very generous in putting things right when you contact them.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:15 AM on April 6, 2016


So People already mentioned the Lazlo Letters, Letters from a Nut, but there are also the The Complete Henry Root Letters (which are better written and funnier than either of the first two), Idiot Letters, and there are a slew of people who make up both sides of the correspondence or do this through email.

I run a letters site (link in profile) and I used to get accusations that I was ripping one of these guys off about once a month. Or readers would accuse me of ripping off David Thorne, or people I hadn't even heard of, like there was somehow a lock on the idea of prank letters as a genre. Thing is I've actually corresponded with a few of these folks, but I generally try to avoid reading their books because I didn't want to rip them off. I've read the Lazlo books, but only after I started my project and people kept saying, "Have you read…" and I read the Root books, but only because he has an interesting biography. I am sure I am forgetting some of them.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:21 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had a six-pack of beer fall apart in-hand just outside of the liquor store and they replaced it right away as someone inside saw it happen, saying that the vendor had issues recently with some flimsy holders and they would not have to eat the cost, and they apologized to me because it just kind of exploded next to my open-toed feet.

When it comes to groceries, I sometimes will bring defective product to the store, without being pissy, and they replace it. I figure the grocery store wants to know if they have a bad batch of something, they have mechanisms in place for being renumerated by a vendor and/or the product might've been on the verge of getting tossed anyway, and customers do tend to expect that resellers are exercising quality control of the products they sell, to the extent they might refuse to sell a consistently poor product.

Hell, if I bought a brand-new computer and it was clearly damaged in transit to the store or whatever, I would ignore the "Don't return this!" flyer in the box right away and take it back to the store. They have means for storing the dead machine and getting it replaced, somebody is going to get paid some non-zero amount (unless the store is evil, it can happen) to do that, and I get a new machine straight away -- I didn't buy a contract for a working computer to be fulfilled within one week, I bought a computer today.

It gets fuzzy when people want to go to the store for nit-picky issues that can be fixed in a single call, most definitely.
posted by aydeejones at 2:40 PM on April 6, 2016


In terms of letters and customer-service feedback sites, I lean towards the latter because it's structured data feeding into a CRM-y box rather than a mailbox, and it's specifically intended to improve relationships and quality over time, between the company, you, and their franchises / general managers.

Once I complained to Pizza Hut about something and they instantly gave me $25 in credit, followed up by a phone call from the manager. "Please don't complain about us to the website, it hurts us directly and I'll work with you any time you have a problem." Probably the manager was on thin ice and possibly for reasons outside of his control, but I told him I'd go ahead and do that next time and did end up having to take him up on another credited transaction down the road, before giving up on Pizza Hut entirely. I like good pizza, but sometimes eat shit pizza.

There's a crappy "Bubba Gump" seafood restaurant in Breckenridge that my folks like to eat at. They consistently make mistakes and don't really care too much about it because they have a constant influx of tourists. My dad complained to their corporate once and got the same sort of call from a manager -- "please don't narc on us using the website!" But the guy was a jerk about it, and wanted us to go to another location in the city to make up for it, without actually offering anything in return except a non-fucked up order. WTF?

My dad laid it on too thick with the "we really like your restaurant except" piece, instead of focusing on "you can't forget to make somebody's food and then offer them a chapstick in return, your staff need to have the ability to comp poorly-executed orders, even just the one meal, even if no manager is on site, which is stupid BTW."

The manager's point was "my other location isn't as shitty because it's not intended for tourists and I don't spend as much time at the other spot." OK dude, we'll just never eat there again.

I've also complained to Arby's with success. Sounds like I eat nothing but garbage, but I promise it ain't so.
posted by aydeejones at 2:51 PM on April 6, 2016


I had a disastrous order at Olive Harden and complained, so they sent a $50 gift card. When I eventually used it, the screwed up even worse (hour wait, wrong food, etc.) I complained again and specifically said not to bother sending anything because nowaynohow was I going back there. Why let them get to a third strike?
posted by wenestvedt at 3:09 PM on April 6, 2016


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