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Eat samples.. buy nothing.. is that bad/rude/stealing?


Sometimes, I go to Whole Foods thinking I want a particular product and then I don't end up buying it (it's out OR more often: I realize that it is going to cost $5 for a box of cereal...) but in the process of roaming the store, I try their samples.

This kind of happens every couple of times I go there... so maybe once a week I end up making purchases, but once a week, I leave without buying what I was looking for (and driving to a more affordable location).

What do you think--especially if I do frequent there (weekly, if not bi-weekly)--is it rude to sample without making a purchase?

(I will say it is really helpful to sample because it is so expensive, so I can decide if it is worth the $7.99 for a loaf of cinnamon bread)

  1. Not at all GraceW. I think of the samples as the marketers planting seeds. I guess I have gardening on my mind on this cold soggy January night. Costco has the right idea. They are generous with their samples and very often I end up buying what I sampled another time. And/or recommending the item to a friend.
    I think the problem with Whole Paycheck and some other supermarkets I go to once in awhile is all the employees standing around staring at you as you take a sample. In my experiences the gazes of these bored employees are not friendly. There was a small but upscale market I used to go to, (they since went belly up), where I used to shop almost daily for their wonderful dinner specials early in the evening. One night a week I would stop there shortly before they closed after a looong commute to see if they had any leftover specials. On the nights they didn't i would take a sample from the bakery, use the bathroom and leave. Shortly before they went out of business I realized the bakery workers were whispering and giving me the stink eye. I happened to be in the store one morning only an hour after they had told their employees they were going out of business. The owner was expressing his regrets to a customer and glared at me as I walked by. They never realized how much I spent there on other trips and begrudged me a small square of coffee cake I guess.
    My local TJ's does a nice job of watching the samples without making people feel they shouldn't take one. But I really can't seem to leave TJ's without buying something. Or many things.

    1. depends on the store. you can see it in the workers' eyes. the tired desperation.

      I've taken all the samples i could eat, after walking through busted glass to get to a Whole foods. Then again, I was making less than minimum wage... "servin' my country" eh?

      Costco--you've already paid for the samples.

      Whole Foods--they're rich.

      small timers are a different story -- only sample if you have 50/50 of buying or more.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chowrin

        How do you know if you want to buy the food being sampled without sampling it? So often I've sampled food at stores and found it completely not to my liking. I wouldn't have know that without trying it first. Other times I discover that I really do like what they're sampling and I happily buy it. That's the point of sampling.

        When I worked in that business, my mantra was just let me get a sample into your hands. The food will speak for itself. If you like it, I just created a new customer. If you don't like it, well no harm done. I felt it was a relatively cheap form of marketing.

        Now I will admit, I no longer take cooked food samples at TJ's. I've never yet had one I've liked so I assume I'm wasting time and food but taking the sample.

        1. re: rockycat

          You know the samples that you'll never buy: the vitamin water (people pay money for what?)

          You know the samples that you're on the edge about: "real" diet coke (not new coke)

          Often enough, I'm poor enough that even something I like, may take me years to buy it. Which isn't good for the small-time operator....

      2. Timely topic for me. This past week I found myself in a shopping plaza that is no longer geographically convenient to me and walked into a Whole Foods that I used to frequent regularly. I wasn't intending to buy anything, but I had a few samples of cheese and crackers and decided it would be poor form to just walk out, so I bought some bananas, which we did need (just not at their prices).

        As for Costco, they have great samples, but I could never see going into my Costco without intending to buy anything so it's never an issue for me there. I'm sure there are people who go in there at noon just for samples, since you could certainly make a meal out of them (which I have done, but only in the course of my regular $100+ weekly shopping).

        At Trader Joe's, other than the free coffee samples, the only other samples I usually get are labor intensive, served by a TJ employee who cooks, apportions ,and plates them, and also tells you about them in a generally helpful and friendly manner. I think I would take huge stones to just walk out after eating that.

        1. Samples are part of doing business and are factored into the cost/price ratio of any established store. I shop at Whole Foods and TJ's and look forward to tasting something new when I go. If it's something I like or need, then I'll probably buy it, if it's a good price. If the store offers something free, they have already written it off as an expenditure and will make it up somewhere. Small mom and pop stores are different. But you shop there for different reasons too.

          1. I think its fine as long as you are not "piggy" about grabbing samples-as I sometimes see at Stew Leonards.

            1. Eat samples.. buy nothing.. is that bad/rude/stealing?

              I have read about people who admit to belonging to Wholesale Clubs, like Costco, and going there on their lunch hour, solely for the purpose to eat the free samples for their meal.....bad, yes.....rude, yes....stealing, no.

              I would further add....pathetic, yes

              5 Replies
              1. re: fourunder

                here is an interesting article on "Seniors going to lunch" at.....COSTCO. I think this is a little extreme; who wants to eat all that overly processed stuff anyway?

                1. re: ospreycove


                  I know you have spent time in Bergen, although I do not know how long it has been since you have been in the area......In Hackensack, across from the courthouse, they opened a Costco Warehouse directly across from it about 15 years ago....since it is the closest one to my residence, I shop there most often and have gotten to know many employees over that time. The running joke is that's where all the Courthouse staff and lawyers come for the free food at lunchtime. Unbelievable.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    four......Been many years now I am inS.W. Florida and the Seniors are very evident at lunchtime in our COSTCO.....LOL

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      they are even worse in South Fl!!

                    2. re: fourunder

                      hey, lawyers get munchies too!
                      ... what's fun is the millionaires kibbitzing about the optimal time for sample-scooping at Costco. [also, the optimal time for purchases.] They're millionaires -- they Optimize!

                2. If you take one of something you think looks or sounds good, but it's not all you thought it would be, then it's perfectly good form to walk away..you don't like it; it would be loopy to spend money on something you don't like.

                  If you *do* like it, don't keep cruising back past the table to snag more...if you like it enough to circle back for seconds, you should buy it.

                  Walking through the store just to fill up on samples is bad form.

                  1. If you don't want to buy something at that moment, why on earth would it be "rude"? Unless you think you're purposely trying to get over on someone, in which case that's always rude.

                    1. Quite often the manufacturer/vendor/broker is supplying/crediting the retailer for the cost of the product demoed/sampled/given away. Often times even the labor cost of the demo person is also provided. This is a form of advertising!!...They WANT you to try the product....They KNOW everyone is not going to buy! They are advertising their product!! ~~~ It is neither bad, nor rude to accept a sample that is being OFFERED to you. ~~ Stealing???? Ridiculous!!!

                      1. I would equate it to a non-customer using a restroom. Conveniences (and extras) are there for actual customers.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: ediblover

                          You mean I should never go into a hotel restroom when I am in the city if I am not a guest staying in that hotel? Then why would they have public restrooms? Presumably their guests all have their own restrooms in their own rooms.

                          1. re: PeterL

                            For the guests of the guests? Or if they're in the lobby and don't want to return to their room? It's not cheap to stock toilet paper, hand towels, sanitizer soap and so on. I can see in an emergency, but not as a regular habit. To me, "public" means the taxpayers are funding your rest.

                            1. re: coll

                              As a former outside salesman, I was always looking for a good place to "take care of business." The finest in my sales territory was the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, always spotless. There , I gave them some free pub. I was there once a fortnight, and returned in the evening for the excellent happy hour and view of the Gulf. If I had to stop at a fast food place for the restrooms, I always bought an iced tea, not wanting to be a freeloader. Now, at my local HEB grocery, they have an in store chef doing demos, employeeed by the store. I sometimes buy and some not, to them, it seems more about selling the saces and wine that go along with the meat preperations. If I like it I buy it.

                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                Well as an outside salesman myself, I have my favorite spots and know what you mean. Mostly use my customers facilities (and I have preferences there), but also libraries, public buildings, McDonalds or KMart etc (one of my first trainings included this info, and not to ever use gas stations ;-), anyway places you can run in and out quickly. I depend on the kindness of strangers! and try to be invisible when I do so. Hey I can always grab an egg cream or a cup of coffee to cover the cost.

                                You know there are a lot of business costs that people don't consider, and we're covering a few of them here.

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  Totally apropos of absolutly nothing, doesn't HEB rock?! Wish I could go more often without the 8 yo in tow so I could hang out at the cooking kisok and check out more of the recipes and browse the cool stuff.

                                  If there weren't cheese samples I'd never buy a lot of new cheeses. I'm not going to risk 10$ on a cheese I end up hating. Although it's not likely that the word hate and cheese would ever come out of my mouth at the same time. Ok, well, perhaps "I hate that cheese is so expensive." :)

                            2. re: ediblover

                              I see this one as a "catch more flies with honey" type situation. Honestly, I can think of many times (although not always) I've popped in somewhere out of necessity, and on my way out, maybe picked something up, even if it's a soft drink, because I felt I should.

                              Being bullied into it, is another thing. Once, however, in the middle of nowhere, I had to go into this little ice cream place where the owner flat out refused to let me anywhere near the bathroom until I'd coughed up the money to buy one ridiculously over-priced (and not worth it) ice cream, before I even looked around the place. We were scrambling through purses and coin catchers while I danced, pretty much. Had I not been in pain, I would have walked out.

                              A little hospitality goes a long way, and guess which place is likely to have people turn heel before actually becoming a customer. Unless people are known to hang out in your bathrooms conducting illegal activities, I do not see the deal here. And I don't see a bathroom as an "extra", if you are allowed to access the rest of the building freely.

                            3. The only time I've experienced an odd reaction to trying the samples but not buying was at Wegman's. A store I only visit once in a while but truly enjoy.

                              Set up in the produce dept (which was odd) was a display offering thinly sliced tenderloin of beef cooked in a mild sauce. served on a wheat cracker with some sort of spicy dip. It was the beef they were promoting. I had no plans to buy the beef but I was hungry. When I didn't pick up a package of the tenderloin from the display case situated beside the sample the "sales person" made a remark. Something like "we aren't offering these samples just so you can have a quick lunch lady!" In the fist 3 seconds my brain just froze but then I smiled and thanked him for his hospitality and then shared his sharp remark with the meat dept. a few moments later while visiting the butcher. I wasn't turned off to the entire store for the experience but I wasn't leaving without reporting the kind of service representation they were offering that day. Samples are meant to encourage sales, but that doesn't mean immediate sales (imho).

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: HillJ

                                Now, that was rude. The sales person, I mean.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  I would have laughed (at the sarcasm).

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    This happened at Wegman's? You could have had that guy fired.

                                    1. re: Bob W

                                      Yep, Wegman's and I was surprised as well. I wasn't looking to get anybody fired just taking my store experience to the butcher was enough QC for me.

                                    2. re: HillJ

                                      Seriously, what if you didn't like the food? Are you supposed to buy it anyway?

                                      1. re: coney with everything

                                        coney, does a salesperson EVER hold that perspective? Customers do...but people charged with selling can't. Doesn't mean the interaction should be respectful. I would have preferred HUMOR..had the salesperson teased me I would have blown it off. Rudeness doesn't fly.

                                      2. re: HillJ

                                        perhaps they should have shot you with a tracking device to ensure you didn't leave the store without buying, lol.

                                        Someone's a liiitttttlllle too invested in their samples.

                                      3. In this particular case I'm going to say no. You are offered the samples, and then decide if you want to buy or not. It's a grocery store not a restaurant.

                                        intention may be everything here as well. I'd say it's a little classless to go with the intention of eating food for free but if you really are interested and then decide not to buy it based on cost, or calorie / nutritional info I see nothing wrong with that choice.

                                        That said I knew a girl who worked at an ice cream / yogurt shop and there were some repeat offenders that would come in only to ask for several samples and then leave without buy. That is rude not stealing since samples are free but that is rude.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                          there's an ice cream parlour in the d.c. area that limits you to two free samples and then, after that, if you pay a dollar you can taste up to ten more samples. it's a pretty good system.

                                          1. re: monpetitescargot

                                            oh thats a good system. My friend worked at a sherman oaks cali place where aspiring models and actors would come in. and taste around 5 to 12 samples and then leave without buying anything.

                                            1. re: monpetitescargot

                                              Kind of like wine tasting at many of the Napa wineries.

                                              1. re: PeterL

                                                I haven't seen a free tasting in Napa in a decade!

                                            2. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                              I'll second that on serial offenders. If I were the manager, I might refuse them samples, saying, "you come in frequently, but do not purchase, so you cannot sample anymore". What they are doing is just plain rude. But, there are shameless people in this world.

                                            3. Had a friend whose Ex would pick up the girls for visitation and take them to Costco immediately. The samples (not ever the $1.50 hot dog and beverage) were lunch. Every Saturday. Every Sunday, just before bringing them home.

                                              That, to me, was stealing, tacky rude and pathetic. No wonder she didn't get custody.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                I'd be concerned for the girls and their view on such matters as they get older. Sad story, Cathy.

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  They are both adults now, with children of their own, two each. Their Step-Mom raised them well.

                                                  1. re: Cathy

                                                    Happier ending then. T.g.

                                                2. I worked in the food court in college, and the raiding of the condiment counter got so bad that we literally removed it, and handed them out only after receiving payment. This was only after we watched a fraternity send in pledges to "restock the fridge", ie-take back BAGS of packets.

                                                  Now, my side job is at Williams Sonoma, and we regularly have samples. It should be noted that just taking one or two of something is not a problem; even if you have no intention of buying it. It's free! We want you to eat it! The people who bring their kids, or who don't and just GRAZE....them we take issue with. That's not sampling. That's just rude. Ditto to employees of the Tiffany's around the corner. You sell 100000 dollar jewelry for a living. Buy your own damn lunch and leave us alone.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Nocturnalbill

                                                    I would take exception to your comment about children, if I understood you correctly. I let my child take samples because her taste in food matters as much as anyone else's in the family. I absolutely have bought foods she has sampled because she liked them so much. And I have not bought foods I might otherwise have considered because she has said she wouldn't eat it. I would do the same for the Spouse.

                                                    Now, I'm not saying I let my child make lunch of the samples. It is unfair, however, to assume that a child is merely snacking.

                                                    1. re: rockycat

                                                      Please note that the comment about kids was followed by the comment grazing. It was not meant that your kids can't sample. Just don't tell them that handfuls are the proper way to sample, followed by multiple return trips.

                                                      Believe me, I wholeheartedly approve of making sure the kids will like what you're buying....hell I am selling 26 dollar peppermint bark...lol

                                                    2. re: Nocturnalbill

                                                      So how you "take issue with" it? Do you refuse to give them samples? I'd like to see how you do that. And the Tiffany employees don't benefits proportionally from how much jewelry they sell. Tiffany makes the profit.

                                                      1. re: PeterL

                                                        Bet they have some kind of commission.

                                                        1. re: PeterL

                                                          It's fairly simple, I point you out to my manager, she takes you aside and tells you that you are no longer welcome in the store, as you are not a customer, just a freeloader. Frankly, if you do nothing but walk into my store, take samples (not a sample, but a buffet style raid), and leave, you're not a customer, you're shoplifting. Samples are for customers. As I stated before, if you're at least semi-interested, you'll take a bit and move on, possibly buying, possibly not. If you're the grazer, you're in multiple times in the same day. Regular employees know the grazers.
                                                          If you're the employee of another store, a phone call to the manager of that store will usually fix that problem.
                                                          And it's a safe bet that Tiffany's employees make a decent salary. Yes the company makes the majority, but they work there not at Zale's for a reason. The idea that they're poor minimum wage slaves (as we are), is a bit ludicrous.

                                                      2. Offering samples is part of the cost of doing business and is a busines expenses. I am eager to try new things. I do not feel obligated to buy anything from any store. I feel that If I give a store my regular business then there is no issue with my sampling without buying. I do so at TJ's and Whole Foods which I frequently shop at.

                                                        1. Frankly, I think only YOU can answer that question. I'd find it hard to believe that you don't know ahead of time before you grab a sample whether or not you're interested in buying the product. Let's face it - most of us do know ahead of time that we're not going to be buying it. So there's your quandary. If you feel truly guilty about it, then stop gulping down the samples.

                                                          I have to say the only folks I find truly gross are the ones who consider places like Costco a "free lunch". I've actually seen families in Costco pushing their kids up to the various sample areas & insisting they grab & eat as many as possible.

                                                          Pathetic, sad, & - in my opinion - bad/rude/stealing. But, as it's a marketing ploy, there really is no restitution.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Breezychow

                                                            I disagree that "you don't know ahead of time before you grab a sample whether or not you're interested in buying the product. Let's face it - most of us do know ahead of time that we're not going to be buying it". I REALLY do not know if I will buy the product, however, if I am interested in sampling I MAY buy. But I feel no pressure whatsoever to buy because it's offered as a sample. I take one sample and am happy. I don't "make a meal" out of sampling and do not go to a store specifically to have lunch/dinner. That's just plain rude and pathetic.

                                                          2. I've seen the people getting the "free lunch" from samples at Costco myself. But honestly, who am I to judge, plus, this is a place where SOMEONE has a paid membership to get in the door, right?

                                                            When I was down on my luck, I admit to the fact that I had a loose, rotating schedule in my mind of who had good happy hours (meaning: free food) and what night "Ladies' night" was at various bars. I got my dinner off of one drink and numerous happy hour free eats many nights back then, but I really was broke. So I just think, whatever their issue, it's not up to me to judge whether or not it's legit, or what their reason might or might not be. I'm lucky enough to be able to afford to buy all my food now, so I just ignore them.

                                                            21 Replies
                                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                                              I agree; first, as others have mentioned, free samples are part of doing business and those businesses are writing off this expense at the end of the year. Second, I don't consider taking samples stealing or being rude. If you put an unmanned sample station out, there is no limit to what people will eat. Granted, it may not be in the best taste, but it's not rude. If stores want to limit the amount of samples people eat, they need to hand them out one by one and specify there is a limit. Stealing is finding an open bag of M&M's on a shelf and just help yourself or finding the deli counter, open a loaf of bread and make a sandwich to eat while you walk around the store.

                                                              On another note, with the way the economy is, more people will be eating free samples; the stores should know this and make allowances or stop giving out samples. Also, if I pay for a membership and shop at some stores where i spend money regularly like Costco, Sam's, etc. I've already paid for my sample or a couple of them.

                                                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                I agree with everything you said.

                                                              2. re: rockandroller1

                                                                You don't have to show your ID to get in these places though (at least that I know of) so you can just go in, have a meal and then not even be able to buy it even if you liked. That is definitely crossing the line into being piggy. And it sounds like what is going on in a lot of these scenarios.

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  Costco in my area makes it a bit difficult to walk in without a card. Of course, it can be done. But I suspect the amount of people making a meal with free samples (with or without a membership) is infinitesimal when compared to the amount of people going to Costco, or the amount of people on the planet. I simply can't muster the energy to give them any thought at all, much less pass judgment.

                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                    wtf? obv. never shopped at a costco. I've been to four, and they require (have a person at the door) id.

                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                      We're anxiously awaiting the opening of a nearby Costco, all I know is BJs unfortunately. They have free lunch and anyone can wander in. Probably why the old ladies preparing the food there are so cranky. The only thing you need ID for is to check out at the register.

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        Oh the Costco employees at the location we visit (Hazlet, NJ) has an employee checking for membership cards once you enter and once you leave. My peeve is their need to slash a black marker through your receipt as you leave. What the heck is that for? Many times I have asked them to mark the blank backside so I could actually read the receipt or submit it later. Checking my items in a micro second, okay...such is life...but the marker??? Anyone else experience this in another location?

                                                                        See now if your palm was stamped when you rec'd a sample.....hahaha...maybe I should just let that one go...

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          Same here in the L.A. area. Most of the time they barely glance at the items in the cart before automatically marking the receipt. The lines are bad enuf but, if they really took the time to examine every item and compare it with the receipt, the lines would be horrendous. Also, one of the posted reasons for the checking is, in essence, to make sure the customer isn't being cheated. Ridiculous!

                                                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                            They are looking to see if you were charged on the receipt for 2 or 3/multiplesof an item and then they will look in the cart that you have 3 of something.

                                                                            Then you can't walk out and subsequently return, telling them you were charged for 3 when you only bought one.

                                                                            If they see no multiples, they slash and you go. The slash shows someone looked at the receipt.

                                                                            (one time, over Christmas when I was making a large Costco purchase, I didn't keep a running total in my head of how much it would cost. I paid, was walking out and they caught that I was charged for two bags of dog food instead of the one that I purchased. $23 difference, which was refunded in cash on the spot)

                                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                                              Unless the checker is highly skilled, it has been my experience that, because of the long lines, they barely glance at what's in the cart and don't take the time to count, locate the item on the receipt and compare. There's no problem if there are only a few items in the cart but, if it's full.....................

                                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                That is why those carts are stopped at the door, to count MULTIPLES which are on the receipt.

                                                                                It is why sometimes large carts also go through without being looked at.

                                                                                It is why a cart with a few items in it is stopped.

                                                                            2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                              I've only been to Costco a few times with a friend who had a membership, but have been to BJ's many times with my own membership. At BJ's they don't usually check people entering the store (though I think I've seen notices stating that they can/might). They do check receipts as customers leave, usually just making sure the number of items in the cart matches the number on the receipt. Costco uses the marker to show that the receipt has been reviewed/used, so you can't just take an old receipt and fill your cart with the same items. I've seen some Costcos use a highlighter instead of a sharpie. My BJ's uses a hole puncher to mark the top of the receipt through the printed store logo.

                                                                              1. re: mpjmph

                                                                                They are NOT looking at items, unless multiples are on the receipt.

                                                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                                                  I see...the quick glance in the cart tells them if there are multiples. Sometimes they do an item count and compare the total on the receipt. The possibility of reusing an unmarked recipt by an unscrupulous customer hadn't ocurred to me before although an alert checker would see the date was wrong.

                                                                            3. re: HillJ

                                                                              At my BJs they punch a tiny hole in it, I would be mad if I couldn't read my receipt too.

                                                                              I feel like they used to check items more carefully, really dig through the cart, maybe there were complaints. They just glance at the cart quickly, well another senior citizen has a job so it's all good. (Not making fun of seniors! I'm almost there myself and hoping I'll be able to find employment if need be)

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                When I'm checking out the register is manned by two people focused entirely on my order. One person to tally up my purchases into the register, the other loading my cart. Then, as we have discussed, another employee marks my receipt while checking my cart as I'm exiting the store. I'd prefer they didn't mark my receipt at all but the blank backside is doable for my needs. But I have just come thru trhe checkout line, checked by two employees, so how could multiples be at issue? They would already be caught at time of purchase, no?

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  No. It was a busy time, noisy, and the guy must have accidentally scanned the 20 pound bag of dog food twice. You can't hear beeps. They caught it at the door, reading the receipt. I didn't read the receipt and just knew it would be a large purchase. It was $23 over, which I would not have caught until I looked at the receipt the next day, after I had gotten home, unloaded the car, put things away, started snacking...

                                                                                  Obviously, multiple scanning happens with other people also.

                                                                                  1. re: Cathy

                                                                                    Cathy, I always look at my own receipt before existing the store to make sure I was charged correctly. Beeps aside, I wouldn have caught the error myself. But, busy time in a hurry I can see your point.

                                                                          2. re: Chowrin

                                                                            In Michigan and maybe other states as well, the pharmacy legally has to be open to everyone, so you could get in by saying you were filling a prescription

                                                                            It annoys me, though, that sometimes when samples are being offered of something I might actually want to buy, I can't get close to the table because of the browse-for-lunch-bunch.

                                                                            But I have no idea how to improve that...I'm sure Costco would like me to sample something as there's a chance I will buy it, but the moochers mean they will never see my money.

                                                                            1. re: coney with everything

                                                                              come earlier. the sample hordes show up at noon, and samples come at 11. at least where I'm at.

                                                                          3. re: coll

                                                                            At the Sam's (similar to Costco) you have to show your membership card to enter.

                                                                        2. I think I probably buy what I sample less than 5% of the time - most of the time, the samples are of types of food I don't usually buy or eat. However, occasionally, the sample convinces me to purchase something, like recently when I sampled some bad ham and realized that even though it was a local brand it wasn't sweet, and promptly bought one.

                                                                          The samples are there as advertising - they're trying to entice you into impulse purchases. I think it would be crass to go to a store specifically to eat samples without buying, but if you are there for a normal errand, sampling isn't rude, even if you don't buy anything that time.

                                                                          I think Costco's a bit different because you've already paid a membership to go there.

                                                                          1. Why do you think the samples are there?

                                                                            1. If you are legitimally shopping with the intention of buying then you are not obligated in the least to feel guilty or make a purchase.

                                                                              I do the same thing at fresh market. Especially during the holidays when they have hot cider. Some days they are out of things, crowded etc. Other days i spend big money.

                                                                              1. No, as long you have some intention of buying things at the store you are at.

                                                                                However, we have a farmer's market in front of my office once a week (on hiatus now until the spring). I have coworkers who will go down just to chow the samples with no intention of buying anything.

                                                                                That's not stealing, but it shows a total lack of tact and class.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. I don't think anyone has said this so far. Stores big and small will not do sampling when they think it is not profitable to do so.

                                                                                  A very long time ago, ahem, in college I was a sample person for a short time at Price Club (which is like Costco). We were employees of an outside vendor. Most people took one sample and moved on. Others (mostly old men) made meals there. There is a commercial depicting a man dressing in costumes to dupe the sampler into giving them another taste. It rings true (obv. to a lesser degree). My point? People know what/when they are doing wrong. It may not be illegal, but you have a personal code. Do what feels right to you so you will not have to feel poorly later.

                                                                                  Please be kind to service people. Hi and Thank you make long days bearable.

                                                                                  1. I never go into a store that sells food without buying anything, so even if I don't buy the food they're handing out, I will buy something.

                                                                                    But I am super picky about samples. I never try "unmanned" samples because I've seen too many gross things (in the olive oil aisle at WF, for example) that if an employee isn't controlling the hygiene, I don't want to try it. I'd rather just buy the whole $16 bottle of EVOO than risk eating some toddler's half-chewed, flu-contaminated bread.

                                                                                    I also don't take things I know I am unlikely to have an open mind about (gluten free bread, processed foods). So I guess if I have no intention of buying it, I won't try the sample.

                                                                                    Your cinnamon bread is an example where the sample might be useful. . If it's made with natural ingredients and no preservatives or dough conditioners, it's likely to be tasty, but whether it's worth $7.99 a loaf to you, well, that's where the sample can help.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                                                      I agree with everything you just wrote.

                                                                                    2. I started doing wine and liquor tastings shortly after I moved to TX back in 2008. It was a great way to get paid $20/hr. to "people watch" in various areas of the Metroplex, and had to remove all the open product from the premises (i.e. "leftovers" :) )

                                                                                      The tastings were paid for by the distributor, and TABC regulated pours. At the liquor stores I had many more "freeloaders" than at places like Whole Foods, Market Street, Central Market or World Market, but I remember one occasion around Halloween when parents dragged their kids through Central Market with no intention of buying anything but just fill up on all of the free samples.

                                                                                      With wine my goal was to sell a case an hour. Tastings were normally 3 hours. Most often I exceeded that goal. I think my record was 131 bottles in a 3 hour tasting. BUT, if sales were down, I'd call the person who hired me before opening another bottle of wine. We had to purchase the wine from the store where we were demoing it. I didn't want to spend more money if we weren't getting results.

                                                                                      I don't feel guilty at all about sampling and not buying. At Costco I'll even hope they will do a demo of something before I buy enough for a small army and find that I don't like it. At Central Market I've often purchased items thanks to tasting samples and getting recipes. I bought a locally made sauce/dressing thanks to a tasting and accompanying recipes. Never would have considered it without the tasting.

                                                                                      I would never think of eating samples as stealing, but there is good and bad etiquette to "eating for free". If you don't regularly patronize a place and yet look for free samples, that is bad. I have a place that has a great "happy hour" with $4 margaritas and free quesadillas & nachos. I'll go there after work, but I'll also have dinner there or brunch as well.

                                                                                      1. I think the point of samples is to get people who might not normally buy the product to try it and find they do like it. So, it's fine to sample, even if you're not planning to buy it. I've had my mind changed. And, it might not be that trip but I'll remember it for the future. If stores offered samples only to people who plan to buy the item, why would they bother? They've already sold it w/out.

                                                                                        I've seen people take multiple samples and I think it's wrong. One woman parked her kids in front of the sample person at TJ's for her whole shopping trip and they wolfed down everything before other customers could get some. And, they poured themselves cups of milk that were out for coffee. That's bad/rude/stealing, imo. I take one sample, my kids can have one sample. If they want more, we buy it to eat at home.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                          Heh...and how much stuff have you bought that the kids ate the sample, said "yeah, Mom, buy this, it's good!" then got it home and pitched it because they wouldn't touch it.

                                                                                          (rolls eyes)

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            sunshine, that is my son to a tee!

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              I'm that sucker that Barnum talked about.;-)

                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                That is disgusting behavior, and reaches far beyond anything to do with sampling.

                                                                                              2. I don't sample because I have to weave my way through the carts and jerks that are stuffing their faces with samples. And WHY do you have to stand in the middle of the aisle to shovel it in?!

                                                                                                41 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: OH2FL

                                                                                                  Why don't the people providing the samples encouraging customers to take a sample on move on. Who needs others breathing all over the samples or crowding around a small, hot oven on a cart?

                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                    I've waited to weigh in on this topic, BUT I was the 'sample supervisor' for the 4 Connecticut Costco locations from 1993-2003.
                                                                                                    #1 the demonstrator is there to sell, not just give out samples, she/he is not supposed to move people along, but engage them in conversation and sell the product. Sales figures are kept and a non-producing demonstrator will not hold their job long.
                                                                                                    #2 The demonstrators at Costco are shopped by an outside mystery shopping company every month. Rudeness or deviation from standards will also result in a lossof job.

                                                                                                    #3 Children may not take samples at Costco. The demonstrator should insist that the parent take the sample and hand it to the child. This helps relieve insurance liability for things such as an allergic reaticon.

                                                                                                    #4 People are pigs, and that sums it up, they grab at something for nothing even if they are not interested.

                                                                                                    About 20 years ago a did a demo at Price Club for eyeglass wipes. The demo company warned us that there was only one sample per customer, no exceptions. A Price Club member wanted 2, and I refused, both explaining the company rules and pointing out the sign on the table "One sample per person" The customer went to the Price Club manager, who then came to me and told me to give the customer another sample. i explained that I could lose my job, as there might be a secret shopper observing. The manager then told me to pack up the demo and leave the store, Price Club did not care about manufacturer's rules, but their members could have as much free goods as they wished.

                                                                                                    The demo comapny and the manufacturer ending up suing Price Club for breach of contract and settled for almost 2 million dollars. Price Club was later bought by Costco and they were more compliant with manufacturer's rules.

                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                      I just had to say: awesome story.

                                                                                                      1. re: Raids

                                                                                                        I really don't see how the Demo company and Manufacturer were harmed to receive those damages, settlement or not...based on one incident of a manager who made a mistake interpeting company policy ....or making ill advised personal response.

                                                                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                          The demo company has a contract with the store, for which they presumably pay, and the store breached the contract by throwing the demo company out of the store.

                                                                                                          Therefore, the demo company is entitled to reliance damages - the return of whatever fees paid to the store, the transportation costs, cost of merchandise purchased to be sampled at the store - anything it takes to put the demo company back in the position that it was in before in contracted with the store.

                                                                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                            It's a good thing you're not a judge. You certainly don't have all the facts and a full understanding of contact law. (BTW...I do have a Law degree).
                                                                                                            The manufacturer shipped goods on a guarranteed basis to Price Club. Curtailed Demo equals lower sales, and returned merchandise. Money was spent on advertising in the magazine sent to members as well in general media in the area. Demonstrator had to be paid for full shift. When the manager sent the demo packing, he actually shut down all demos being run by the particular demo company in the location on that day.

                                                                                                            As a piece of further information. Costco now owns the demonstration company that does all demos except road shows, but the demonstrators are not Costco emplyees, they work for a company called Club Demonstration Services.

                                                                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                              Your right, I didn't have all the facts.....because you didn't supply them,......or maybe, you just acted inappropriately to the customer and you should have been thrown out.

                                                                                                              BTW...I don't need to know contract law, that's why I pay my attorney, ....but I do know this much. Any lawsuit has to qualify to move forward, and before it ever reachs a courtroom, it is strongly suggested that parties come to a compromise. I don't think most Demo companies and Manufacturers would risk doing business with Price/Costco for the long term....on a questionable incident that may or may not move forward..... in/for the short term.

                                                                                                              Your explanation did sound impressive though.

                                                                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                Twenty years ago, Price Club was not that huge a player in the market. The jurisdiction where the complaint was filed allowed a claim to be made for damages in excess of $15,000 without a specific amount sought. Most lawsuits, 93% is a recent figure, never reach a courtroom, and less than 1/2 of those actually continue to a verdict (as opposed to a settlement).

                                                                                                                I was not the first outside demonstrator steamrolled by this particular manager. The owner of the manufacturing company had had enough of the superior behavior of Price Club managers.

                                                                                                                The customer is not always right, and some customers (in this case Price Club) were not worth having.

                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                  Thanks for the additional info bm01 - really interesting stuff. Takes me right back to Contracts.

                                                                                                                  Fourunder, if you think *that* is a stupid, unjustified lawsuit, I have some really bad news for you. ;-)

                                                                                                        2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                          People (many, not all, of course) ARE pigs. I do demos and we don't even give out samples anymore, just coupons. You can tell by the way people behave that they have no interest in the product itself, they just want something for free. At least pretend to be interested in what you're grabbing and ask a question or two, you might just learn something.

                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                            coll, there's a special place in heaven for professional demonstrators! Hopefully with fluffy slippers, a nice meal and a neck rub!

                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                              Oh there's lots of neck rubs: I do dog food demos now so the clientele can be very pleasant. It's the puppy parents that are bad. No boy, no! I'm totally qualified to do people food and might even venture into it someday....not at a warehouse place though. Unless all the customers were you!

                                                                                                            2. re: coll

                                                                                                              This piggy behavior is why I only take samples if I think I am genuinely interested in buying the food. It really nauseates me to watch a horde of people breathing all over samples, touching them, letting their kids touch them, smacking as they eat, talking with their mouths full and spewing out particles onto the food and one another.

                                                                                                              If you were doing demos involving food samples, I'd advise a hazmat suit.

                                                                                                              Yeah, I sound like a curmudgeon, but honestly, there's a reason why we need manners!

                                                                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                It really nauseates me to watch a horde of people breathing all over samples, touching them, letting their kids touch them, smacking as they eat, talking with their mouths full and spewing out particles onto the food and one another.

                                                                                                                If you were doing demos involving food samples, I'd advise a hazmat suit.


                                                                                                                So maybe my phobia about eating free samples isn't so irrational after all.

                                                                                                            3. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                              hi bagelman01, thanks for the recount on personal experience. Anyone paying a membership to Costco know the samples expectations for sales...some folks are rude no matter what..and likely to be in many areas of life. I wasn't aware of a law suit but I'm not surprised by the rules, the misuse, the miscommunication or the powers that be fighting it out. If we were all capable of being a civil society, life would be sweeter...

                                                                                                              Question: Without free samples would food items sell less? I'm quite sure I've purchased new products out of curiosity without ever tasting it at the store countless times in my life. The only time I approach a sample cart is if there is no or nearly no line, no rush to grab or if I have a legit question. Not all of my experiences are wonderful but I don't make a point of taking it out on the sales person. I can't imagine what a day of sampling is like at Costco. I'm surprised the law suit didn't end sampling there. What was the outcome?

                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                The action was against Price Club long before they were bought by Costco and it was settled. The biggest change in sampling at Costco is that Costco now owns the demo company, and can dictate policy, even if the demo workers are not C ostco employees, the supervisor has to answer to the store managers.

                                                                                                                The average increase in a food item's sales due to a tasting demo can be more than 30% on the day of the demo and 10%+ in the coming 6 week period.

                                                                                                                I have tried many food items at Costco demo tables that I never bought before, but are now on my shopping list.

                                                                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                  And since we're discussing results, what is the percentage of duds and food sampled that turn the public off upon tasting a sample? Do those foods become discontinued?

                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    Not all foods carried in a warehouse club are demo'd. But all items must have sufficient turn to keep their shelfspace.

                                                                                                                    If you are looking at the merchandise in a Costco and see an asterisk on a price sign, then this is an item that has been reduced in price or is being discontinued. Sometimes, it only means that the particular size/packaging is changing and the new shipment will be at a differnt selling price.

                                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                      Are poor performers reported by demonstrators via intake response from customers or just by "the numbers"

                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                        With the wine tastings I not only had to report what was sold, but both good and bad feedback from customers. Sometimes I'd be pouring a wine that wasn't a good value, or other times it was a wine that didn't suit the majority of customers. Also, I'd get feedback from store personnel about typical traffic patterns in the store. Sometimes moving a future tasting an hour earlier or later made a big difference.

                                                                                                                        I'd often be looking in the customer's shopping cart even before I'd offer them a taste. I'd open up the conversation like 'ohhhh, how are you going to prepare {insert ingredient]?' People love talking about themselves and if they are a foodie about their cooking. I'd let them tell me and then say 'I think this wine would be great with that!' If the wine I was pouring definitely wouldn't work, I'd be honest but I'd always have some good pairings I could suggest.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                          Fascinating Barbara and smart upsell! I'm always interested in how feedback is acquired. Numbers alone just don't tell the whole story, right. In my small business we place a feedback card on the backside of the tip envelope and have started to cover our office wall with the responses (good, critical and bad). Some of the feedback has been so beneficial to our menu plans.

                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                            I know the demo companies that hired me were good about relaying the feedback to the distributor (client). I'd get a call for another tasting and the time would be adjusted or we'd also not do tastings at some locations. I would also relay both positive and negative feedback about store personnel. If the beverage manager at a particular store was good or bad, the client was informed. Why should the client be paying for a tasting where the retailer isn't trying to make it increase sales?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                                                                              Or waste their time, over the long term, on duds. Feedback is essential there. Very interesting advice, B. Thank you.

                                                                                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                          Mix of sales results, criteria observed by secret shoppers and general management (demo company) observations and decisions.

                                                                                                                          Individual customer feedback has little weight unless the demonstrator has done something particularly offensive.

                                                                                                                          Most individual customer complaints have to do with the demonstrator not 'helping' a customer with non-demo items. Customers don't want to understand that the demonstrator is NOTa Costco employee and is being paid that shift ONLY to push a particular product. The demonstrator is not supposed to tell you which aisle detergent is in, or lift that airconditioner into your cart, that job belongs to Costco employees. Standard answer to customers regarding non-demo items: "sorry, I don't work for Costco, please look for an employee wearing a Costco name badge" this does generate complaints, but they are given no weight unless the demonstrator was truly nasty or used offensive language.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                            Oh, I was (trying) to confine my question to the response on the part of customers sampling the product when/if they did not particularly like it and how those responses were captured.

                                                                                                                            I've witnessed plenty of interaction at Costco btwn demonstrators and members that had nothing to do with the sampling as you've described tho.

                                                                                                                      2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                        sometimes. had a real dud demo on naan at costco. really was being prepared badly.

                                                                                                                      3. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                        costco mac and cheese. good stuff! but if you've had kraft, you would cringe before buying ... as kraft is blech!

                                                                                                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                      Thank you for that great perspective on sampling.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                        Interesting. I know that the demonstrators in the Costco we go to usually pay no attention to who takes how many samples and, unless you ask them a question, they don't try to sell the product.
                                                                                                                        I'll never understand how anyone can make a meal out of those dinky little morsels.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                          My experience and observations are similar to yours. Unless there is a product being pushed for the holidays, e.g. David's Cookie's, selling their Assortment of Cheesecakes.....more often than not, it's a frozen pizza, hamburger, Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate. Apple Juice or Proggresso Chicken soups. These workers are supplying a sample....no real effort is made to sell any particular product at the time of demonstration.

                                                                                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                            Exactly. Now, once in a while they'll have a true product demo as oppposed to someone just handing out samples.

                                                                                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                              Well at my Costco there certainly are efforts to sell the products. The demonstrators provide a stream of consciousness dialog about the product. It's not hard sell, but it's a sell.

                                                                                                                            2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                              dinky little morsels.

                                                                                                                              Standard for sample size at Costco is two bites

                                                                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                As measured how??? Usually the demonstrator just scoops up a spoon/forkful and that's it. If the sample is cheese, for example, and on a toothpick, 1 piece is given.

                                                                                                                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                  Maybe the Demo company should be sued by the Manufacturer ....for Curtailed Demo

                                                                                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                    You'd have to talk to the lawyer bagelman about that.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                    examples of measurements:
                                                                                                                                    Soup/beverage 1.5-2 ounces
                                                                                                                                    Raviloi/Potsticker/Meatball--cut in half
                                                                                                                                    Cake--about a 1.25" square
                                                                                                                                    Hard Cheese--about 1" x 1/2" piece
                                                                                                                                    Penne w/sauce--3 pieces of the pasta

                                                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                      It seems you're contradicting your '2 bites' statement. Half of a ravioli or meatball can't possibly be 2 bites. Same with the cheese. 1 piece that size can't be 2 bites.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                        That is the standard used by CDS who perfoms the demos at Costco.

                                                                                                                                        Individual bites may vary

                                                                                                                                  3. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                    On 2nd thought, it seems to me the objective would be to give as little a sample as possible so that one can't make a meal out of it easily.

                                                                                                                                  4. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                                    weekdays they sell like a banshee. weekends, they only talk if they aren't completely inundated.

                                                                                                                            3. Depends on your original intent - if you go into a shop just so you can specifically sample/already know you aren't buying anything, then yes, that's rude.

                                                                                                                              Taking multiple samples is also rude - if you like it enough to go back for another sample, buy the item! This is a supermarket, not a free buffet and it's suppose to be a SAMPLE, not an impromptu appetizer or mini-portioned entree. Sheesh. I agree with the other posters, people are pigs. No wonder Americans struggle with obesity.

                                                                                                                              1. I was just thinking about this yesterday. I was in Whole Foods and they were handing out nice-sized samples of chorizo. I took a sample. It was deliciuos. I also knew I was never going to buy any. I had no use for it. My husband won't eat it and I'm not so sure it's good for me to eat large quantities of chorizo myself. Still I REALLY WANTED another sample. I felt guilty though since I wasn't going to buy any. It just just so good.

                                                                                                                                I ended up restraining myself. After reading this thread I'm thinking I should have just taken a second sample. I spent an awful lot of money that day and I doubt the store really could have begrudged me a little extra chorizo.

                                                                                                                                1. I was in Harvey Nichols in London wandering aimlessly about and found myself (surprise!) in the wine and spirits department. It was about 11:30am on a weekday. I thought to myself 'I wonder if they have any interesting gins?' (because they did have some exotic looking bottles around the place) and before I knew it I had been presented with a row of 3 little cups with about half a measure of gin in each. (the 3 gins being the ones I expressed an interest in, I believe had my interest extended to 10 gins I would have been offered 10 cups).
                                                                                                                                  Now, when I entered the shop I'd had no intention whatsoever of buying gin, there just happened to be a rather fine and unusual selection available. There was no overt sales pressure - just a bemused, knowledgable and slightly bored chap asking if I wanted to try another one.
                                                                                                                                  Was I stealing when I was first offered a sample and said 'yes'?
                                                                                                                                  Was I stealing when I took the second? Third? (I didn't actually finish any of them).
                                                                                                                                  In the end I found that comparing gins was highly educational and I did buy 2 bottles I'd not intended to when I started sampling them - but had none of them piqued my interest would that me my problem or that of the shop? The bottles were already open for sampling purposes - they could not have been sold.
                                                                                                                                  Surely the whole point is try it - if you like it, buy it. Or make a note to buy it later.

                                                                                                                                  Of course, next time in London I know where to go for free booze!

                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Peg

                                                                                                                                    Right on, Peg! I have had a similar experience in a cheese shop. Boy what an educational experience that can be. And samples be thy middle name among some top notch cheesemongers. But I would always defer to the generosity of the shopkeep. I can't imagine walking into a shop that prides itself on doing one, two, threes things very well with a grab attitude. Would ruin the whole experience!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                      I was accompanying a friend on a 3 hour drive and she decided to stop at a roadside winery. I had no intent of buying anything and didn't think she did either, but we wanted to look at their various decorations and wine-related gifts. The person working there was engaging and encouraged us both to try some samples. I went so far to tell her that I wasn't going to be buying anything that day, but she didn't mind, possibly as we both lived close to the main winery location and had mentioned going there for dinners etc. She made a smart choice, we sampled a few different ones and based on our likes she came up with more samples that seemed to fit our taste. We had a good time trying these out (the store was empty so we weren't monopolizing her) and based on our tasting and conversations about them my friend walked out of there with a full case of wine. Good selling on the demonstrator's part.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                        Firegoat, what a lovely experience. Win-win (boy isn't that refreshing) for all involved.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                          When you start being negative, it's time to stop doing demos. You always get one uplifting experience per shift that keeps you going through all the muckiness.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                            I'm so happy to hear you say that coll. I'd never stop doing something I enjoy based on the attitudes of someone else. Especially when it comes to pleasures like food.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                          It's wonderful they had such a generous and engaging person to pour the wine for you. That's the way it should be and the fact that you left with wine shows you how it can be done appropriately.

                                                                                                                                        3. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                          Here's a slightly different question: is it rude to REFUSE a sample? My husband is very adventurous about cheese, but I'm not. He always finds himself in a conversation with shopkeepers at small stores, and when I'm with him, they always cut two samples and offer us each one, but I always refuse because I just don't like cheese. Sometimes they offer the extra one to him, but it always makes me feel bad. I certainly love that stores like this exist and are so interested in giving customers opportunities to try something new, but at the same time, I'm not going to put a piece of cheese in my mouth and gag!! (And, yes, my husband almost always buys something he's sampled, so we're definitely not going in just for grazing purposes.)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: erin_grogan

                                                                                                                                            Declining is not rude done politely, right. But, if you wish to take the owners perspective into account and you know going into that shop that you will be offered samples and will decline you might ask your husband or state for yourself to the shopkeep that only one of you is a cheese lover so the slices offered are based on actually eating and not potential waste. I see nothing wrong with being honest.

                                                                                                                                      2. Maybe this dilemma can be summed up with the Italian phrase "Fare una brutta figura", for which there is no exact translation. Literally it means "To make a bad figure" it basically means to give a bad impression, rudeness or not having civil attitudes. This applies to those who take a handful of free samples or have little regard for others. It is all a matter of how you see yourself and the form that follows the function of "How you see yourself. Non fare una brutta figura!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                                          more.....*entitlement perceptions*

                                                                                                                                        2. If the samples are bad, does that mean they have to pay me for eating them? ;)

                                                                                                                                          1. I have a phobia about food samples ... won't eat them for love or money (yes I know this is totally irrational, which is why it's a phobia).

                                                                                                                                            I wish Costco would quit the food samples, all they do is stress me out. I try to steer well clear of the sampling stations.

                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                                                                Make that three. I don't know how clean those gloved hands really are, I can't abide the number of grabby grubby fingers clutching at processed foods and the vacant eyed stares of the people waiting for a pizza to get cut up into little pieces is disturbing at best.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mtngirlnv

                                                                                                                                                  What bothers me most about this thread is how quick people are to label other people as "piggy," "grabby," "grubby," "vacant-eyed" or in other ways gluttonous.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                    But it makes us feel better about ourselves.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                      No kidding, Ruth. In fact, it is often dismaying to read these sorts of threads in which hounds start to intimate a moral inferiority (laziness, pigginess, grubbiness, slovenliness, etc.) possessed by anyone who does not behave/eat as they do. It's particularly funny to see this on the thread about class, given that many of the responses are performing the issues described in the article under discussion.

                                                                                                                                                      As for this discussion of eating samples, I cannot believe some of the vitriol directed at those who partake in the samples and dare not buy anything. There is something intriguing about this rush to protect the corporations (WF, Costco, TJ) through individual management-- as if there aren't larger issues at stake. Meanwhile, the smaller, individual shops (such as my cheese-monger) have a very different approach to samples, which are more often part of the purchasing exchange, so a bit different.

                                                                                                                                                      All that said, I do think that buying aside, there is a matter of etiquette in taking samples and that involves not crowding a station and preventing others from trying. It also involves trying to keep things as hygienic as possible.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                        How dare force your bourgeois morality upon others by speaking out against crowding! What a blatant attempt to privilege the Western capitalist notion of "personal space." And to presume that cultures that permit and encourage crowing are unhygienic! For shame!

                                                                                                                                                        He he.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Raids

                                                                                                                                                          You all right there, Raids?

                                                                                                                                              2. Well I've learned a great deal from this thread. Thnks to the OP for opening the diaolgue! I'll most certainly approach samples and sampling with more thought going forward.

                                                                                                                                                1. Thanks to everyone who chimed in. All of the comments kind of made me--also--double think if and when I will ever sample again. The OP was with respect to WHF, not COSTCO, but I think maybe if it is something exceptional--maybe--I'd sample. If it is something I've tasted before or not some uber organic-divine-creation then I will just save it for others.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I remember an ad that ran on TV in the UK about 10 years back for Sainsbury's supermarket. An office worker tells his coworker he is going to Sainsbury to get lunch and the coworker asks him to fetch him a sandwich while there. So worker #1 gets to the deli counter and is offered a slice of cheese, then a slice of meat, then a couple of olives, then a sample of different meat, and so on. He realizes after standing at the counter and being offered all these samples that he is now full and returns to the office. Of course he forgets worker #2's lunch. Sainsbury's were positively suggesting that customers should sample.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Sometimes when the sample person isn't looking I dump a bunch of items into my purse.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Folks, this thread is getting both angry and off-topic in different places, so we're going to lock it now.