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You won’t give me a free sample???

I buy a lot of envelopes. We went to the website of our envelope printer because we wanted to check out some new colors. I asked for some free samples.

They insisted that I pay for the samples.

Such a bad customer service moment. I’m annoyed and I’m shopping elsewhere. They turned me away at the moment I was ready to buy.

Better idea: When someone asks for a sample, they should get me on the phone, help me make the perfect choice, and give me a little coupon.

This sort of weirdness happens when companies have a bad experience with freeloaders. So they create bad policies to punish bad people (who aren’t even customers).

Lesson: Get rid of all the negative, defensive policies that protect your business over a hypothetical harm — and hurt your best customers.

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  1. Jason Archambault December 22, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    Hi Andy,
    I would love to send you some FREE Samples of our envelopes if you like? We have some eye catching envelopes, great for marketing pieces, check out (if you like) our Blingvelopes, and Shiny Shippers are my favorites.

    Jason Archambault

  2. Tom Morgan December 23, 2010 at 3:08 am #

    I had two similar experiences recently. I want to give out some freebie keyrings to clients and the first company I contacted wanted me to buy some samples – these were bits of plastic not gold-plated! Needless to say I didn’t use them. My second experience was when I wanted some curtains and blinds making for my house. I rang the lady who somebody had recommended and lived only around the corner. She said she wanted £20 to visit as she had ‘problems with timewasters’. I didn’t use her services either.

  3. Charles Neville December 23, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Businesses are people too. The examples given by Andy and Tom of businesses that had clearly previously had bad experiences with timewasters and freeloaders. Simply saying ‘get rid of all the negative policies’ without giving businesses a reason or a means to do it, other than ‘no, I’m a serious buyer, honest, I’m not a freeloader’ isn’t very helpful.

    If giving free samples/visits in the past has been detrimental then it’s going to take a lot more than that to get a company to change their policy than an exhortation to try it again. If you’re an existing customer, then sure, that changes things – the value of previous orders makes a lifetime value calculation very easy. If you’re a new prospect, then the business bases their approach on their past experience with other prospects. if that has been poor, then new prospects get treated in this way.

    I think a happy medium for many businesses is to charge a creditable-against-future-business fee, or in the case of personalised items, like envelopes or key rings, to send out samples that have their company name printed on them – then there’s no potential loss of sale, and a greater likelihood that the prospect is serious.

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