Turning Down Free Things

This is an interesting occurrence that has happened to me several times now. I'll be out shopping and having a generally good interaction with a worker, when the employee provides me with a free drink, free bag, etc.

Sometimes it's easy to know what to do. The bartender that keeps refilling my wine glass free of charge and telling me I'm his "Pretty Little Sweetheart" clearly is mishandling the products so into the report it goes.

However, on a recent shop with ready-to-order breakfast and lunch products, I was offered a free latte AND one of the store's new reusable bags (which were NOT being given out, they were $5). I had already accepted the latte for free, as it was a shop requirement and I had already asked for it so it would probably be weird if I did not go through with the order. I did turn down the reusable bag, simply because I did not know what to do.

My first thought is always that I've been spotted, but unless anything else seems odd, I'll keep on trucking and hope for the best.

Anyone have any tips or suggestions on what to do if proactively offered free products? Is it weird to turn free things down? I know to always document the free item, in case it doesn't show up on the receipt, and to always record exactly what happened in the shop form or via email to my scheduler if there's no space on the form for the details.

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I was comped my bill on two different occasions by the management of separate eateries. Since I did not have a POV, I explained the situation, with each MSC accepting my report. One was reimbursement only, with the other having a $7 fee.
I had a grocery shop once that specified you have to spend a certain amount of money. I am pretty meticulous to getting just over the requirement amount (think spending $9.01 or $9.02 instead of $9). The cashier rang everything and then put on a discount. I was under so I grabbed some candy as to not be suspicious, which she threw in and put another discount, thus making it under again. I got more candy, rinse, repeat. Finally I told her to stop discounting my order and she made a fuss of how she couldn't understand why people don't want a discount. Into the report it went. Never saw her at that store again.
My sense is to accept proactively offered freebies if I want them and turn down those I do not want. But this is offers that are within the 'appropriate' realm and relates to a shop or non-shop situation. As for your shopping bag--if it has prominent logos or store name, it is advertising and I would have no qualms about accepting one. Many stores sell their advertising bags in store and give them away at community events. My sense is that they charge for them in store simply to keep customers from taking them by the handful. I have been in a place that sells office supplies and had them drop non-advertising pens or pencils or other small items in my bag with my purchases that had not moved even on 'Clearance'. Most recently we were having waffles at a place where the cook made a mistake on an order (not ours) and our waitress brought the extra waffle over to our table, with an explanation, as a freebie.

When there is a comped meal or significant value comped item, I do expect a manager to be involved in it. It astounds me that at one Target store in my area the manager is very clear that he has authorized his 'front end' staff to make price adjustments and such to keep the customer happy. Sometimes when the register price comes up wrong the cashier will look it up in the sales ad, most of the time they will just give me the price I tell them was marked on the shelf without sending somebody back to check on it. Another Target store in my area simply sends me to Customer Service to get the overcharges sorted out.
I am often offered comped beverages at a certain convenience store when I attempt to purchase a fountain beverage. I just usually state that I insist on paying. I obviously need a receipt because it is a gas station audit (they just don't know it yet). And I'm really not interesting in adding items to the charge just to get the free drink. It is slightly awkward and I do really appreciate the offer, but I need to be charged.
I don't like being offered free stuff. It complicates things. I've been offered free stuff at gas stations AFTER the reveal. That feels hinky to me. Do they really think I'm going to overlook the filthy gas pumps for a latte?

I enjoy awkward questions and uncomfortable silences. This gas station pavement is $%^@*#& hot.
If your premade sandwich shop was Pret, you can certainly accept free items as the staff is authorized to throw in the occasional drink or cookie. The form actually distiguishes between the cashier saying "Here, have a free cookie on us, because it's a Monday" vs. the cashier not ringing up the cookie and not verbally explaining it was comped, in which case they'd lose points.
When I'm doing a route of gas station audits, my normal purchase is a cup of coffee; I drink 8 or 10 cups a day, all day. I can drink 4 cups of coffee, shut my eyes and take a nap with no problem!

So often I'm told, oh, you got gas, the coffee is free! I then have to grab something else, just in order to get a receipt.

And sometimes, the cashier just says, here, that's on me. Flummoxed me so badly, I had to reschedule and go back the next day and re-do the shop! LOL!!! I just couldn't "think on my feet" fast enough!

On reveal audits, marching around outside for half an hour in below freezing temps, I have NEVER turned down a free coffee. I never look at it as a bribe; the cashier is just treating me like a human being, seeing another poor working stiff freezing! I don't have any trouble turning down a free soda in the summer (which is frequently offered), but have accepted many free ice waters or just cups full of ice. My rationale on that is that they shouldn't be charging for ice water or ice, anyway! LOL!!!

I do try to be an ethical shopper. I have never accepted anything more than a cup of coffee when it's freezing, or ice/ice water when temps are in triple digits.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2020 08:50PM by ceasesmith.
Glad to read your post, Ceasesmith.
The coffee offers are never an intended bribe. From my experience as a hotel assistant manager, the offer of a drink is customary towards someone doing work or an assignment at the property. That's all those gas station employees are trying to do, it's a measure of respect for our position as an inspector. Sometimes they can actually get a bit offended if you don't take it. I'll just tell them I already have a coffee in my car (I don't drink much coffee anyway), because I know the MSC doesn't want me to take it, but it's never intended to get you to forget the chipped bollards or the two building lights out on the opposite ends of the building.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2020 10:41PM by KA047.
I was doing a gas station/C-Store that had a loyalty card that offered Buy 6(?) Get one Free coffee. The clerk announced that the coffee I just purchased was my free one, so I quickly added some candy to my order.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. Eleanor Roosevelt
Back when I used to do the prepaid card replenishment for the old CastForce, I was at one store just about every week. Every single time I was there, the manager would come out of the back and ask me what kind of pizza I wanted. I would tell him every time that I didn't want a piece of pizza until one day I really wanted one and of course he doesn't charge me for it. The next week he asks again and I say no thanks, then comes out with a piece as I'm leaving. I take it, but tell him no more pizza. (It was actually pretty good, especially for a c-store) and we did this dance for months until they sold out. I still go in there every once in a while on my own and he is always trying to feed me lol.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
I generally do not feel bad about reporting comped items I get. Usually it is something required for the shop so I would have to mention it anyway. Sometimes it seems legitimate to me as it is done because of an issue with the order. At those times I hope and think the person giving me the comp will not get in trouble. Other times it feels to me like it was done in order to get a larger tip. Most of my shops have narrative so the situation can be explained.
My only quandary about comped items is wondering why it seems to always happen on shops when I am getting reimbursed anyway. I just wish they would save their comped items for when I am paying out of my own pocket.
I cannot imagine anyone comping an item because they think you are the shopper. That practice has probably backfired on the employee time and time again.
@CoffeeQueen wrote:

I don't like being offered free stuff. It complicates things. I've been offered free stuff at gas stations AFTER the reveal. That feels hinky to me. Do they really think I'm going to overlook the filthy gas pumps for a latte?

It could genuinely be a hospitality type of instinct depending on their culture.

I’ve instinctively offered appraisers free espressos, drinks, etc. knowing that the free stuff I’m giving out shouldn’t change the outcome of their work.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
A few months ago, someone parked in front of my garage and blocked me in. I knocked on my neighbors' doors and no one answered. I called the police to have the car ticketed and towed.

The police officer was sitting in his car. I offered him a cup of coffee as a measure of respect.

@KA047 wrote:

Glad to read your post, Ceasesmith.
The coffee offers are never an intended bribe. From my experience as a hotel assistant manager, the offer of a drink is customary towards someone doing work or an assignment at the property. That's all those gas station employees are trying to do, it's a measure of respect for our position as an inspector. Sometimes they can actually get a bit offended if you don't take it. I'll just tell them I already have a coffee in my car (I don't drink much coffee anyway), because I know the MSC doesn't want me to take it, but it's never intended to get you to forget the chipped bollards or the two building lights out on the opposite ends of the building.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
I get offered drinks all the time. Owners often will refuse payment. Workers not so much, they will let you pay. Sometimes I know I want something and I know the guy isn't going to let me pay so I end up making an extra stop somewhere to buy what I want!
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