The Psychology of Free Shit

Very random reef write-ups

It’s true!  I am often as baffled as I am charmed by some of the responses I’ve gotten over the past years about the extra "surprises" that people find when they open their Battleboxes.   By "surprises" I simply mean:  free stuff - primarily a frag or two.
It’s a strange phenomena indeed.  Free shit can be shrugged off and dismissed, or highly regarded.  Sometimes being met with utmost gratitude, other times completely expected, and every so often, flat out frowned upon all together.  I have heard it all and I can’t help but be amused by how these good intentions are greeted - be it well or poorly.  It was many years ago now, but I will never forget the guy who complained about the size of the free stuff I shipped with his order.  I’ll admit, it had me rethinking ever sending freebies ever again, but alas, the notion fortunately faded. I'd say 9 1/2 out of 10 people are very grateful for any extras that they receive, but its still an interesting subject to me. 
Let’s talk about the psychology of free shit. 
There's something about value and the concept of what I’ll loosely call “virtual value”, that I find very interesting.  If a frag is free, even if it would otherwise be expensive, I think that it's value immediately becomes undermined by the fact that it was not only free, but also not necessarily desired or wanted.  I think that’s completely normal behavior; however, the intrinsic value of something free may be difficult to calculate and really is ultimately determined buy the person in possession of the free stuff. 
Where am I going with this?  Simply to open up a discussion on how people see and experience freebies.  It's kind of a petty subject really, but let's go there.  I remember years ago when the Red Dragon was still hard to get a hold of, but I had lots of it. I would often send out pieces as freebies.  The response was usually very unexpected -surprise and questions of possible mix up, followed by extreme gratitude and a little  bewilderment upon confirmation that is was not a mistake.   Clearly this was an example where the extra frag exceeded their expectations by a lot.  For me, the dragon grew like a weed and I had plenty to go around. It was easy to give away even back then when it was a still fetching nearly 200 a frag.
Normally when it comes to extras I’ll try to tailor them to whatever else was purchased, not just dumping excess montis and the like, but using the extras to round out a pack in a good way.  Sometimes I’ll clip branches from better than average colonies I have as well. I like to think that the extras can help soften the blow from any shipping costs, and is ultimately my way of saying thank you for the business.  No strings attached. Love, hate or indifference towards them, they are all yours.
What about those times when a frag or two may come in DOA, but there are a couple nice extras included that made the trip in perfect health.  Do they that offset the DOA’s in any way, or are these resilient extras simply seen as valueless tagalongs, even if their actual value far exceeds that of the DOA?  As tempted as I have been to do so, I have always held back the urge to say something like "well, I know that  two in your original order were DOA, but the freebies I sent should make up for it".  Just doesn’t really work that way.  And that brings me back to  the question.  How do we actually value the stuff we get free from vendors? What do you guys think?  I suppose in the end, any appreciation or value of stuff gotten free, is truly held by their new owners and no one else.


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