Get the most out of online freebies

June 11, 2012 3:07:11 PM PDT
Freebies can be a great way to try all kinds of new products while saving money, but as Consumer Reports found out, you have to be careful. In some cases, you could be giving more than you are actually getting for free.

You see the offers all over the internet. "Hey, it's free," "free samples," "freebies," "free," "free," "free," "free." Consumer Reports' ShopSmart checked out dozens of offers.

"Freebies are a great way to try new products. Just be aware that they're typically samples and many of them are travel-sized," Jody Rohlena with Consumer Reports said.

Some companies give you a lot more than others. We compared a 4-milliliter packet of Eucerin lotion to a 50-milliliter bottle of Simple facial wash gel.

"This is a good-sized sample. It's enough to use the product a few times and decide if you like it," Rohlena said of the Simple freebie.

ShopSmart says the best place to find free offers are aggregator sites, such as Freeflys, Hunt4Freebies, and Hey, It's Free!.

Facebook is another good place to find freebies. If you 'like' a company or a brand, they may send you free samples.

Twitter is also worth checking. For example, there's an offer for a free Clif Bar if you follow the company.

And check out companies like Target and Procter and Gamble that have free sample pages on their websites. Just be aware you're going to have to enter some personal information.

"But don't give away too much, like your birth date or any health information," Rohlena said.

All freebie offers require an email address, so create one specifically for freebies so offers don't clog your inbox.

"When you are trying to score freebies, you have to be patient. We ordered 44 items, and just about half had arrived after almost three months," Rohlena said.

Rachael Ray Just 6 dog food took 10 weeks, but when it arrived, it came in a good-sized sample.

ShopSmart says you can also save on movies by joining frequent moviegoer programs with the various movie companies. Those programs sometimes waive online booking fees and offer free tickets and concessions.

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