Are online freebie sample surveys worth your time?

Created: 07/08/2014 9:22 PM
By: Nicole Brady, KOB Eyewitness News 4

You're on Facebook. You see an ad pop up offering a free sample. All you have to do is simply click on the link. It's tempting.

There are all these websites out there, Freebie Shark, Hunt for Freebies, and Freebies for Mom. These are "aggregator sites" that bring together a variety of free samples from companies. They promise to save you money, but instead of saving you money maybe we can save you some time.

Lotion, shampoo, toilet paper, and diapers. It seems like you could cover your whole grocery list for free online.

“Well rarely is there something for free, there's always a catch, said Del Esparza, of Esparza Advertising in Albuquerque.

So there's no such thing as free lunch, but what about a free beverage? A KOB employee decided to try and get some tea by simply watching a video.Click on that, okay now some questions. How often we drink tea? What brands we buy? After that survey, we're told the sample will arrive in 4 to 6 weeks. Not too bad.   

How about another one? "Freebies Frenzy" is promising to send us a load of "summer samples," but this survey is a lot more intense. Asking if anyone in the home has gout, autism, or hepatitis c? Are we taking any of these medications? Personal, even embarrassing health information.

Esparza says that's information companies like healthcare or medical product sellers can use.

“It gives us as advertisers a lot of very good information, what we then do is subsequently serve content to you based on the information you provided. So we'll be able to serve you content on health issues, relative to your own conditions,” said Esparza.

Other questions our employee answered: Does she own a car? A home? Is she pregnant? Does she have more than $15,000 in student loan debt?

On average, each free product required her to fill out eight to 12 screens of questions. She signed up for more than 75 items. It took about eight solid hours.

Our employee put KOB down as her address and with 75 products we were expecting to be inundated here at the station with packages. We set up a box here to collect all the packages we were expecting to get, but most days it's been empty.

Remember those Lipton k-cups? We were promised them in 4 to six weeks. It's been six weeks and we never received the tea.

Several samples we signed up for told us “sold out” only after we did the long survey.

In fact after six weeks, only three of the more than 75 items have arrived. One of them damaged. In exchange, our employee voluntarily handed over what advertisers consider a gold mine of information.

“Well it's not big brother by any means, but based on the answers they provide willingly, we're able to provide relevant content based on their answers, so content hopefully that they're interested in,” said Esparza.

Hopefully, but another side effect is an inbox full of spam. So you'll want to set up a special email account just for your freebies if you decide to get into this.

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