PRODUCT SAMPLE POLICY

CTOMS receives numerous requests for free samples for varied reasons. The following is CTOMS’ policy regarding these requests.

Please understand that sample products cost us money, and while we want to ensure our customers have every opportunity to understand our products prior to purchasing them, giving away products to everyone who asks for them is not a sustainable business model.

AGENCY EVALUATION

The premise of a free product sample request is that a potential customer benefits from evaluating a product for their requirements at no cost to them, and that CTOMS would benefit with a volume purchase that may result from a positive evaluation. The premise is that if CTOMS stands behind the product, it will invest in the cost of the sample anticipating a favorable outcome.  Evaluation of a product by an agency is usually formal or informal.

In our experience, formal evaluations will almost always involve the agency purchasing the evaluation samples, often without that agency making CTOMS aware of the reason for the purchase. This is usually an agency policy based process, done this way to ensure fairness without favoritism to, or taking advantage of a company’s generosity. Agencies often have rules forbidding free samples to avoid conflicts of interest. It ensures an unbiased evaluation, considering the performance of the product itself, rather than a company’s willingness to give away free product. Consider if an agency would only trial and evaluate products from companies that gave them samples for free. They would likely not end up procuring the best product for their requirements. What is the priority; free product, or unbiased evaluation for procurement of the best product?

Informal evaluations are typically not supported by the chain of command or procurement entity within the organization which is why the formal process is not being taken. It is often a ground-up endeavor by an individual without procurement power, with the intent of ‘selling’ the concept to those who hold that power. As such, the likelihood of the evaluation turning into a sale of any volume is much lower than a formal evaluation. This example is more frequent due to the lack of budget for informal evaluations.

With those examples in mind, the following is CTOMS’ policy:

If your agency would like to request a free sample for evaluation, please send an email to equipment@ctoms.ca from your agency email address. Include your full signature block, and courtesy copy your supervisor as further indication of legitimacy. An explanation of your agency’s Trial and Evaluation policy and how requesting free product is a component of that official policy would be helpful. List the products you are requesting free samples of, and the quantity of each, along with the intended trial, evaluation, and decision process. CTOMS will evaluate each request on a case by case basis. In most circumstances, a credit card will be pre-authorized for the value of the goods and if no volume procurement results or the goods are not returned in saleable new condition within a reasonably defined timeframe, the credit card will be charged for cost of the sample(s).

MEDIA REVIEW

Another common request is from “gear reviewers” that have blogs, YouTube channels, magazines, etc. that are interested in writing, or videotaping a review of a specific product. Once again, these requests vary significantly in legitimacy and effectiveness of investment.

Note that impartial gear reviewers will often purchase the product to review the natural (not influenced) customer service experience as well, and they are not then obligated to give a positive review, but rather an impartial and honest review. It has also been noted that at times, refusal to give a free sample product may result in a negative review regardless of the objective performance of the product and service.

With that in mind, the following is CTOMS’ policy:

To evaluate the reach, audience, experience, and value of the sample investment, please send an email to equipment@ctoms.ca with a simple business plan of your project. Please include, but not limited to the following information:

  • Product(s) being requested;
  • Media medium (include links to blogs, website, social media, etc.);
  • Synopsis of your project;
  • Target audience; and
  • Proven reach (web statistic, etc.).

Decisions will be made on a case by case basis.

PRIZES AND GIVEAWAYS

The next type of request we frequently receive is for prizes, such as door prizes, competition prizes, etc. Often the requester does not care what the prize is and will sometimes even provide a charity tax receipt for the donation. CTOMS will consider these donations on a case by case basis, based on the relevancy of the event to our customers and corporate ethos.

CHARITY AND HARDSHIPS

The final type of request we receive from time to time, is a request for products in the form of a hardship claim.  It is usually in email form from someone claiming to be an injured or disabled veteran or first responder.  That due to their new hardships they can't afford to purchase, and are therefore looking for free products.  While the background of the story may be legitimate, there is no way for us to verify the authenticity, and the unfortunate reality is that scammers will often use a tactic like this to con money out of people and businesses.  If the story is authentic, the individual should seek loss of income compensation through due process in their employment or legal systems.  

For sample requests, other than the reasons listed above, send your email to equipment@ctoms.ca and we will evaluate the request.