I tried to get free stuff from the biggest brands in Britain

When you’re broke af but need those luxury faves.

Everyone loves free stuff. It’s just a fact. Whether it’s a free lunch on bae, food shopping when your parents visit or a cup of tea from your flatmate. But what if you could get your favourite brands to send you free stuff and lighten the burden of being a debt-ridden student? This month, I set myself a challenge to get as many freebies and money-off coupons as I could.

When you’re getting into contact with companies, you need to think about the person who’s receiving your email. As anyone who’s ever worked in customer service can tell you, the general public like a good moan. The poor sod who gets your email has probably spent the last three hours going through complaint after complaint about the lid of a shampoo bottle, or a box of cereal bars being one short. Your mission is to make them laugh and give them a reason to smile (and therefore want to send you freebies). You need to be polite, and getting free stuff works best if you have a specific product you actually like to compliment in your message. It can also help if you can attach a stupid picture of yourself with said product.

Armed with a quick google search for tips, I set about emailing everyone I could think of – from Innocent to Colman’s, Lucozade to Betty Crocker and Ribena to Radox.

And it worked!

Sort of.

In that I emailed 30+ companies and got five freebies.

Me and my swag

In all honesty, this challenge was slightly infuriating. I’d craft a funny message, perhaps attach some silly pictures of me with their products and wait up to three business days for a company to reply to me. My phone would buzz, I’d get all excited, only to get a rubbish reply. I took a varied approach with whether I was going to ask for free stuff, or just imply that I wanted it. Neither seemed to make a difference in the end, really. I got sent platitudes and smiley messages, but a lack of free stuff. Jack from Robinsons was “chuffed to hear that [I] enjoy the refreshing taste of Robinsons Orange & Raspberry Squash!” and wished me luck with university – with no freebies. Thanks man. That’s totally why I took the time to email you.

The Body Shop and Clinique told me to head into store if I wanted freebies or testers – so I’m not sure if they count as freebies for my challenge.

The villains of my challenge were the people who couldn’t be bothered to respond to me – I’m looking at you Batiste, Monster, Harvest Chewee, Soap and Glory among many, many others. I’m going to include Mercedes-Benz and Yankee Candles on the villain list too. Not only did they refuse to send me freebies (how dare they?) they even had the cheek to suggest I buy something from their cheaper ranges! Oh – and I didn’t ask Mercedes for a car – just a keyring. Cheap sods.

Cookies on me?

The Heroes of my challenge are who I should be talking about. Herbal Essences sent me £3 in vouchers after I told them their shampoo made me feel like a shiny-haired Disney princess. Options sent me a few samples after I sang the praises of drinking flavoured hot chocolate after being out in the cold all day. Kelloggs sent me £3 in coupons after I told them that their Nutri-Grain Bars were the only reason I have breakfast on days I have 9ams. I told Betty Crocker that they’d given me back the option to bake in my rubbish student kitchen – and got a £3 reward. Gillette are sending me an undisclosed amount of vouchers for letting them know that their razors were the only ones that don’t turn me into an itchy mess.

Novelty hot chocolates. Popcorn flavour? Count me in.

The moral of my challenge is really that yes, you can get freebies from your favourite companies, but it’s more likely they won’t reply or send you a stupid email hoping you do well on your course. Is it worth it? It depends how broke you are.