A few weeks ago, I heard about Tom Locke and his $39 Experiment:
I was sitting around one day, skimming through a pile of bills that I needed to pay. I looked over at a new, unopened roll of stamps that I had sitting in front of me, and I thought to myself, “$39… for a roll of stamps? Geez… You can’t get much for $39 nowadays. Or can you…?” […] I was going to take my roll of stamps and send 100 letters to 100 different companies, asking for free stuff. I figured that I couldn’t do any worse than blowing the $39 at a casino, and who knows… maybe a few of these places would actually send me something good.
Today I checked on how he’s been doing. A mixed bag of results ranging from a firm “No” from some companies to coupons and actual products from others. So far, he’s received stuff worth $117.
His stock letters are quite amusing. For instance, this one to Mercedes-Benz USA:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I’m going to be honest with you. I am a poor slob who drives a bike. Not a motorcycle – a bicycle. Please send me a Mercedes Benz keychain, so I can at least pretend to have some class when I’m around people. Thank you in advance,
Tom Locke, self-esteem enthusiast
Yes, he got a key chain. And this one to Wrigley:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am a gum addict. I have tried every flavor of gum made, and nothing compares to your Eclipse “Cherry Ice”. Did you stop making that flavor? I’ve heard people say that it tastes like a cough drop to them – but I love the flavor. Please send me free samples of any and every single gum flavor you have and can send me. I love gum more than I can put into words. Remember that girl from Willy Wonka, always chewing gum? I put that girl to shame. Thank you.
Tom Locke, gum enthusiast
No free gum, just a letter telling him where to buy the gum!
Classical. You can follow Tom’s progress in his Updates section. Note the emails he’s received from employees (seemingly – Tom’s not sure if those emails are legitimate) at some companies he contacted who said no to his requests, saying that if he’d approached local stores rather than corporate headquarters, he would more likely have received positive responses.
I bet those employees are bloggers, too.