Freebie websites: are they worth it?

Student Life

‘Extreme couponing’ is the new phenomenon that’s taken the US by storm.  Ordinary housewives scour the internet for coupons, printing off hundreds to hand over in the supermarket, saving tens of dollars on a single shop.  This super-saving tactic is now spreading across the UK.  Judith Wenban, from Gravesend (as seen on Channel 4’s ‘The Ultimate Guide to Penny Pinching’) often saves a whopping £60 on a basket of everyday items.

As a finalist with an empty fridge and an even emptier purse, my attention was sparked.  So I began to peruse the likes of www.hotukdeals.co.uk and www.moneysavingexpert.com.  I quickly found that getting anything for free on these sites involves input-ing your personal details in order to get a small sample of the product.  Not wanting my inbox to become junk mail city, I had a quick check in the magazines I had lying around, but the only vouchers I could find were for buy one get one free on Spam.  So with the promise of non-lunch-meat related freebies, I succumbed to temptation and filled in my details online.

I went straight for the freebies, but was instantly disappointed.  If you happen to be a man or woman with bladder problems, the free Tena Lady and Tena Men samples will, I’m sure, delight you.  Other delights I carefully avoided included a free alcohol unit counter, various natural constipation remedies, and a recipe book inexplicably involving only peas.  But there were also one or two gems.  For example, I’ll be sure to take my old empty mascara to the Clinique counter in Boots to get a free full one.  There were also a couple of freebies I thought I might actually use.  For example, I am now the proud owner of 3 different 20ml toothpaste samples, some Pantene shampoo and various types of tea.

As for money off vouchers there are some pretty decent £10 off deals you can get if you fancy doing a group shop on Tesco or Sainsbury’s online.  And 30p off items like cheese and bread are never a bad thing.  But even getting these teensy deals involved spending a good two hours online.  In fact, most of the things I saw I really didn’t want, and if I did want them, I didn’t really need them.  So unless you happen to have a lot of time on your hands and don’t really mind what you consume, I would say steer clear because a) the searching can become a bit addictive and b) you’ll probably spend more on stuff you don’t need that you would have on the stuff you did.

However, if you’re planning a meal out, definitely check out www.groupon.co.uk for deals.  Most of the chain restaurants in Oxford are on there and you’re pretty much guaranteed to save enough for that elusive extra pint in the college bar for afters.

Natasha Moakes

PHOTO/sdc2027