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Where have all the freebies gone?

    I can understand many reasons why free customer service isn't found very often anymore. Long gone are the days when one pulled into a gas station and a helpful person rushed out, filled your tank while cleaning the windshield; air was put into tires free if needed. Bag boys (or girls, rarely) haunted cash registers to take packages out for a tip. These were good jobs for persons otherwise unemployable, mostly because of age or inexperience. With minimum wage, insurance requirements, etc., it just isn't economical now. But free products are a thing of the past too.

    If you have a few years on you, perhaps you remember when a dishtowel or dishcloth was often included in boxes of soap. Groceries and gas stations often gave away dishes, glasses, tableware and other tidbits with each purchase. When our family first moved to Florida, Winn Dixie, then called Margaret Ann, gave away free plates with a purchase for several weeks; then matching free cups, then free saucers, etc. We had arrived with little matching dishes, and we soon had a full set of plaid-patterned dishes, painted in brown and avocado. Even further back, the Jewel Tea salesman who visited homes to take orders in suburbs and rural areas gave away dishes, including lovely serving pieces with a stylized brown and orange flower patten. Remember the S & H green stamps? I tried to shop where they were offered, and stashed them in the kid's large closet in a brown paper bag, saving up for some large item I couldn't afford to purchase. I remember the day I read in the paper that they were being discontinued, so I rushed to the closet to drag them out and see what I could get. I'll never forget my shock when I found that one of the children, in a rare excess of cleaning, had thrown them out!

    In the late '70s until after Hurricane Andrew hit, I owned a warehouse and office for Fuller Brush (now combined with Stanley Home Products). Fuller at that time offered bonuses for sales and recruiting, and the manager and i took full advantage of it. I can't list all the items I "won". Certificates for a free product were offered for a minimum order each sales period, and reps who otherwise wouldn't reach the goal did so,just to receive a free product. These bonuses kept us in first place in the nation in sales and recruiting for years! I'm still with Fuller, and if there were similar bonuses offered, no matter how small, I know it would increase sales, but that had apparently gone out of style.

The last valuable thing I got free was when my husband, working as a circulation manager for the Miami Herald in the late '80's, happened on a gas station that was giving out a piece of free forks, spoons, etc. with each fill-up of gas (a minimum amount required). He took delight in bringing me a piece two or three times a week, and I still have a few left.

    This was a valuable marketing ploy in earlier years. Customer rewards are still offered at many stores, gas stations, and even online and with various services. There's a big difference in most of them; they are actually ads disguised as "rewards", for things I don't want, at prices no lower than I could get elsewhere. Customer rewards disguised to market other products is, in my opinion, disgraceful, and the sooner the buying public catches on the better.

The Sneaky Kitchen
Web Site by Bess W. Metcalf   Copyrightę April 1999 - 201

& Stanley Products