Share: do you go to a counter to ask for samples?

It’s been two years since I mentioned that I don’t really fancy the idea of samples so has that changed? Well, not really. I still don’t fancy samples that much especially if they come in loose packets as I find them messy to use. I really prefer to test the products at the counter. But granted, some products can do with product samples – foundation is one example. However, unless I am offered, I usually don’t ask for them, especially if I haven’t purchased any items from the counter. Er…I actually feel a little awkward to ask for them even though I sometimes want to. So why do I feel this way since the samples are supposed to be given anyway?

Well, one is because I haven’t really come across a SA who is generous enough to give me samples without asking me a string of questions. Second is, some of the brands had asked me for my particulars before releasing the samples to me. While the SAs haven’t been impolite, but I would say those experiences have added to my discomfort, and as such, I usually cannot bring myself to ask for samples even when I really want to.

I guess I might be a bit shy…hurhur. So how about you? Do you have a problem opening your mouth to ask for samples? Would you boldly walk up to a counter for the sole purpose of asking for product samples? Maybe you can share your thoughts with me so as to help me overcome my awkwardness in this area?

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  1. Joyce September says:

    I normally get snubbed whenever I’m within proximity of many beauty counters. So I could ask upon purchase. Most SAs don’t really listen to your needs/dilemmas anyway, and are incredibly stingy when it comes to giving samples. Hello, it’s not like they are paying out of their own pocket!

    Kiehl’s take down your particulars when you ask for a sample – in a way, I find that a smart tactic to prevent “Kiasu Singaporeans” to ask for more, or from different outlets. But this double-edged sword can also tell how calculative they are.

  2. Nikki says:

    I don’t! ? I will only ask for samples if I bought something from them and would like to try other “products” then I may muster up the courage to ask for samples.

    If I just passed by, I don’t, I know I should but sometimes, I get eyebrow raised or just a curt NO! ?

  3. nanichen says:

    I did that once before because i’d like to know whether the product will work for me or not. Most of them (the full size) are just too expensive to be purchased for trial. However, when i request for it, the SA would look at me one kind, and it does make me feel uncomfortable. Nowadays, i only will ask when i purchased something from them. Even then, they are also still stingy with it. Usually if i met the stingy one, i tend to insist (provided that i buy something).

  4. hazel says:

    Hi Sesame ? I was at The Body Shop at parkway parade and was looking at one of their product. I was asking the SA if this product would be too rich for me and she on her own accord suggested that she prepare a little container of sample for me to try it out at home. I didn’t even purchase anything during that visit. Good job to The Body Shop.
    I think that SAs in Singapore are becoming less rigid with offering samples, but then again, like you said, some counters require us to fill up our particulars.
    I was in the US a couple of months back and I purchased something from Kiehl’s and Jo Malone and the lady at Kiehl’s offered me tons of samples for my skin type. The SA at Jo Malone threw in about 18 sample vials of perfume for me to try out. I think in SG, SAs could be bounded by certain quantities that they are allowed to give out? Probably so…

  5. Isabel says:

    I do walk up and ask. I didn’t use to because I’d get The Glare from the SA. Maybe it’s because I’m older now and I look like I can “afford” their products :/ Hahaha! On a serious note, when I ask for samples now, I adhere to two personal rules. Firstly, I ask for very specific samples and secondly, I let it drop that I know more than a thing or two about it. I believe we have to be fair to them too because there really are people who are kiasu and keep asking for samples just because. So before I go up to the counter to request a sample, I’d always have done prior research. I have found the SAs can be quite obliging if you show your interest in a particular product in that way. If they say that they don’t have the sample, I smile, thank them and walk away. No problem.

  6. Kim says:

    Nowadays I tend to ask for samples more cos my skin is getting sensitive, so I dun want to buy a product and find out that my skin doesn’t fancy it.
    I carry small jar/tub in my handbag. I’ll ask the SA if I can try some and sometimes I find the ‘standard’ answer is they dun have samples. So I’ll ask if I can just squeeze some into my container, that way they don’t really have a reason to refuse and I can be assured whether my skin will take to it or not.
    I bought 1 or 2 products from Jurlique in Australia and the SA was delighted to give me all sorts of samples (2-3 packs of each product too!). So that was a good experience at Jurlique.

  7. sesame says:

    Eyebrow raised maybe but a curt no? Wow, that’s really quite rude.

  8. sesame says:

    Yeah, some of them do give some sort of weird look…like all we do is ask for samples…adds to the discomfort.

  9. sesame says:

    Kiehl’s here only offer 3, and still, you’ve got to have your particulars taken down. The one that was really generous for me was one SA at Sasa…but then, it was because I used to buy products from her.

  10. sesame says:

    I think the snubs come from the high end brands? I won’t even go near their counters to look if I don’t plan to buy from them, much less ask for samples. There was only once an SA offered me a foundation sample even when I didn’t buy because I said I don’t know the right shade for my mom.

  11. sesame says:

    Okay, that’s good advice. I suppose it’ll help if we know something about the product. I suppose samples are quite limited for certain brands too.

  12. sesame says:

    That’s clever! I agree…if you have sensitive skin, it’s best to test first because even a one-time application may not be telling. It’s not a problem to pass some since they do provide test samples anyway. And I seriously wonder if SAs in other countries are more generous or it is more of a universal behavior, just depending on the brand’s culture of providing samples.

  13. Caramel says:

    I have tried asking for samples from Aesop without purchase several times. I was really keen in their products but would like to try the samples before purchase (since they are not cheap). And so far Aesop has been generous and even gave me samples which I had not requested. Thumbs up to their service, and indeed I have bought quite a number of products from them after trying the samples and I’m loving them!

  14. Destiny says:

    Samples are more readily available in the U.S! Perhaps because we expect to have the freedom to return anything if we don’t like it, so it serves the company well to let us try a sample first. Companies will even advertise when they have new premium size samples come in.
    Still, there could be fear to approach some counters. A friend used to ask me to get samples from the Sisley sa, not a line I would buy due to the high price.

  15. Jyoan says:

    No, I’ve never thought of going up to a counter to blatantly ask for samples. I feel that this is not the trend in Singapore… … It seems that in Korea, samples of anything from food to skincare are given out like water from a tap. But in SG, they are only given if I purchased something, and not generous either.

    At Kiehl’s, I was given a full facial range after $100 purchase. Most generous thus far. If it’s only $50-$80, they only slot in a couple of sachets, and I would have to ask for more if I want to test another range.

    Chanel only slotted me 2 samples after I shelled out $300+ at one go. There were times I made $100+ purchases, but got nothing.

    Whereas in Korea, a single bottle of Laneige Cleansing Oil snagged me a full hand of samples!

  16. Ekta says:

    I’m not shy to ask for samples if i genuinely wan’t to try the product. BUT i feel that usually the lady’s at counter’s never seem very happy to give samples. And even if they do, it’s usually just a teeny tiny amount. So i end up feeling awkward and uncomfortable asking for samples, like i’m inconveniencing them :/

  17. sesame says:

    Oh Aesop is generous? Hmm…maybe I should try to request next time. I notice that their staff are rather friendly.

  18. sesame says:

    You’re fortunate! You’re also probably right about the return policy because we don’t practice that here. And speaking of samples from high end brand, I remember many years ago I had the opportunity to redeem some samples from La Mer and I didn’t feel good about the reception I received when I approached them.

  19. sesame says:

    I don’t get why they’re so stingy here. In many other countries, samples of many products are readily given out. I think it’s a great marketing tactic and the brands here are not leveraging. I mean, how much do samples cost anyway?

  20. sesame says:

    Yes, you’re right…some of them seem unhappy when samples are being requested. That definitely makes me uncomfortable to ask too.

  21. ktee says:

    Aesop is really generous with their samples. I bought a bottle of toner from them to try out as i was very intrigued by this brand. Was very surprised that the SA gave me tons of samples she deemed suitable for my skin type to try even without me asking for any! Anyway, i’ve tried some of the samples and am interested to purchase at least one of the products i sampled.

  22. Catherine says:

    I would never ask for samples. I’m too scared to even linger at beauty counters/stores. I’ve enquired about products a couple of times and both times I got very generic replies, and the SAs looked rather like they’d wish I would go. I don’t think I’m of their intended target age group, perhaps. On saying that I wish I received samples when I did buy something. The few times I have shelled out unfortunate amounts of money on mid to higher end brands I’ve gotten no samples at all. I am left wondering how much one has to spend to be qualified for such things. :/ On saying that I do remember fondly the one time I went to l’occitane and for once I had a really good assistant who talked to me about the product, even asked about my skin in order to tell me if it was suitable, told me how to use it, and then packaged it up in fancy paper and threw in samples from the same line for me to try out. That’s my one and only good experience!

  23. Miss Vinny says:

    Yeah, I’ve had this problem too with many brands. The sales people are so stingy and I even noticed that you get treated differently when you’re all dressed up or walking around casually. :/ C’mon, SG is too hot to always dress up that nicely. Do they really want the customers to saunter in, stinking of sweat like a dead fish?

    It’s just a sample! If they want people to buy their products, why can’t they even give them out?! Worse still… some of them expect you to pay for it. For this issue, I think management is at fault and they need to loosen up or lose to better and friendlier businesses. If the order comes from high up, then can you say they’re out of touch with reality? ?

    Or it could just be that the biting costs of rental makes the investments into a range of products exorbitantly high, hence their reluctance to give out any samples.

  24. Carrie says:

    Similar things happened to my mom as well!! I think The Body Shop has good customer services (the ones we’ve met so far here in NZ!) although we seldom buy their products… ?

  25. Carrie says:

    Sure! I would ask for samples if I am really interested in a product and would love to use it long term if it suits my skin, especially when they do not have testers on the shelf. I know sometimes asking can be awkward when I did not purchase anything, or given cold shoulders from SAs; but as a customer we do have our own rights and not all SAs are rude to be honest.

    On a side note, I once had a surprising encounter with Sukin. Last August I bought their eye serum from an online pharmacy hoping this would work magic, yet the application part was a huge disappointment for me with an odd consistency (though the results weren’t bad). So I wrote to them with a constructive feedback rather than being critical, that I hope they could reformulate the eye serum for better application whilst I appreciated their natural range at a really affordable price. Sukin’s marketing assistant replied my email and suggested I may have a faulty product, and would happily send me a replacement to see if same thing occurs again. After about two weeks, I received a replacement of the eye serum along with three other small sample packs for their cream cleanser and facial cream!! A very clever strategy at selling their products instead!!

  26. Jasmine says:

    Try Korres at Orchard ION. ?

  27. sesame says:

    Another thumbs up for Aesop to their generous sample giving strategy. Clever…cos chances are, customers will return to their store for 2nd purchases.

  28. sesame says:

    Haha…I can emphatize with that – SAs looking rather like they’d wish I would go. As for no samples even when you’ve made purchases, why don’t you ask them next time. Try…I think you have a right especially since you’ve bought stuff. The smart ones would give you. If they don’t, well, just shrug your shoulders and leave…it’s their loss.

  29. sesame says:

    Very realistic huh…judging customers by the way they dress. Unfortunately, it’s so common. I totally agree with your comment that they should be more generous with sample giving. Speaking of which, I had this experience recently: I was trying to get A’kin shampoo and body wash at Guardian in Nex for my boy. The store was having a sale and I thought the product was on offer so I decided to replenish even though I wasn’t in need of it. When I found out that there was no discount offered on the product…I decided not to get. Then one of the SAs came and ran after me when I was leaving to pass me a sample of the product. Hmm…he probably thought I wanted to try but it was a nice gesture that he noticed and he bothered. In fact, I found out he was not even the SA for A’kin later.

  30. sesame says:

    Yes, very clever of them! That’s the way to do business and capture customers’ hearts because the industry is so competitive and these little things count! Bravo for the company.

    And speaking of SAs, I personally haven’t come across very rude ones…but more like snobbish ones.

  31. sesame says:

    They’re generous? Hmmm…maybe I should try. ?

  32. Stephanie/Yukaeshi says:

    I try to ask for samples when I’m really really intrigued by a product, but more often than not I’ll get a negative answer like “We don’t have samples for that” or “We’re out of samples”. I just think it’s not in our “culture” to give out samples, especially if you haven’t bought anything. But it never hurt to try! ?

    Like you, I haven’t really came across a SA who was really generous in giving out samples, but that recently has changed. I find that Melvita are pretty generous with samples regardless of if I bought something or not. Oh, and of course Kiehl’s too, but they advertise their sample policy so I guess it’s a given there.

    But I’m not too bothered about samples unless I really want to try a product. I end up amassing so much of them (Some not even suitable for my skin type at all) that I usually give them away to friends! ?

  33. Swati says:

    it does feel awkward when I don’t buy anything but sometimes, impulsively I do ask for samples but if I buy anything, I do feel some samples would be handy enough but if there is something I particularly want to try, I do ask for samples.

  34. Soos says:

    I just asked for – and received – eye balm and moisturizer samples from La Mer. I told the SAs a friend had gotten 2 other samples for me, and I wanted to compare. (This is true!) No, I don’t dress up to shop, but I probably fit their demographic.

  35. sesame says:

    Yeah, not keen for samples for the same reason as you. And I don’t really find Kiehl’s sample giving that generous…you can only request for 3 here and they need to take down particulars.

  36. sesame says:

    It’s good that at least you’ll still venture to ask…I must learn to open my mouth more. ?

  37. sesame says:

    I guess sample giving is better where you are.

  38. Miss Vinny says:

    Well, even if the customers look rich, they may actually be broke or shady. I’m sure we’ve heard that story before: fraud, of bounced checks, rich customer promising to pay up and never coming back, etc.

    Oh yes, there was once too I encountered some SA who took the initiative to get the samples for me and who helped introduce the producst to me when the SA for that brand wasn’t around. Then again, the drawer or cabinet was unlocked so I guess she could get the brochures and samples.

  39. sesame says:

    Ditto what you said about dressing rich and not being so.

    And for the SA…sometimes I think some of them get carried away if there are no restrictions on them for it is afterall, not their cost. ? But companies need to have a more generous sample giving policy really.

  40. Amanda says:

    I’m with you in this matter. Yes, there are people who can just go and ask the salesgirls for samples even though they don’t buy anything, but that’s not me.

  41. sesame says:

    Maybe that’s why the SAs are resistant to giving samples cos of pple abusing them.

  42. K. says:

    If you’re ever in the vicinity of Esplanade Exchange, you should walk past the Korres store there! Once, I saw a basket of samples on the counter, but another time, I saw the sales assistant standing outside the store, handing out bags with samples in them! I grabbed a bag, and there were 2 samples inside.

    Additionally, I’ve read online that some of the Singaporean SAs also prefer to keep the samples for themselves…

  43. sesame says:

    Esplandade Exchange? Oh, it’s an area I don’t really head to but I’m usually in the vicinity during the weekends. Maybe I’ll give it a try just to see the response. ?

  44. Quin says:

    I ever bought products from E.Arden and Shiseido at Paragon Metro. E.Arden allows me to refund, which is nice #k8SjZc9Dxk_#k8SjZc9Dxk.
    I’ve got mild sensitive skin. The moisturiser from Shiseido does not suits me. So 3 days later, i went back and asked for a change of moisturiser or refund. The Aunty SA asked me to try out a few more days.
    Another 4 days passed & i went back. The SA, whom i bought from, said they are not able to refund. She suggest that i exchange to the cleanser / toner which suits me and top up the diff with $$$. I’m ok with that. But she wouldn’t give me samples to try out other moisturiser! ?

  45. Quin says:

    I had a friend which was in this line in the past. She once told me that some SA actually took the samples home for their own use / for friends / sell it for extra $$$. Maybe this is why some company are restricting the quantity of sample for consumers.

  46. sesame says:

    I’ve bought Shiseido products in the past and I don’t really like the attitude of the SA…but well, it may just be that particular one.

  47. HY says:

    Samples are made to be given out anyway. For free.
    Why do we have to feel obligated to purchase something before we can even ask for one small packet?
    I kinda of agree with fellow reader, Quin that the SAs actually took the samples for themselves. Judging from the amount of sample-sized products you see sold in small perfume shops, there have to be lots of excess of those sample products. And yet the SAs told us they have no samples when we approach the counters.
    Personally I think samples are essential in helping you pick the correct foundation shade. How am I suppose to know if the shade is the right one for me under all that artificial light?
    If the SAs curtly replied no when I ask for samples especially foundation samples, I would just walk away. They are not doing their jobs and they do not deserve a customer like me.

  48. sesame says:

    Ah…probably so because lately I’ve been using packs of samples and I realize that they can last a bit if we decant the content into containers. So by using samples, some of the SAs save lots.

  49. Ada says:

    I love this entry! I have been wondering about this alot recently. We all know the fact is there are samples at the counters. And if you were to make an inquiry with the brand (head office) they will advise you samples are available from their counters. However, I knew that if we really do it will be the typical “We do not have a sample.” No offence but am also wondering about the part mentioned above where SAs keep the samples for themselves? There must be someone who has a BFF who works as a SA? Ha.. but I seldom see discussion of this online. Once I received a sample from a new friend who is working part time for this brand, that’s the only encounter I had thus I do believe they have access to these samples which always “runs out”. And to add we probably do not ask for samples because of how we are answered or know we will be answered. Love your blog!

  50. Sesame says:

    Oh given to BFF? Hmm…I’ve not thought about that possibility but it sure makes logic.

    Thanks that you like this entry…come back often!

  51. Agnes says:

    I alway ask for samples every chance I get. Most skin care products irritate my sensitve skin. At least it will give me a chance to see how my skin will react before buying.
    Agnes last post is: Wat is Rosacea

  52. Pu N. says:

    In my own opinion honestly? Don’t be afraid to walk up to beauty counters to ask for samples to bring home and use. Why? If a non-paying customer got a few samples to try out and ended up liking the products cos they are effective as they claimed on their packaging, that same non-paying customer will end up buying more products on the next visit and ultimately become the SA’s own walking advertisement for their products.

    Not all SA’s are that nice to give you samples even when you don’t plan on buying anything. For me, I just avert my eyes somewhere else, like their brochures on their counters, or just “fake” interest in their products by looking at the nearest one near me. Also, you can try mentioning to them that you are using X brand of skincare products and it doesn’t seem to help and their products might do the trick. Most times, this line should net you some samples without having the SA making you feel a little self-conscious about the issue of asking for samples.

    It probably helps that I have acne popping up faster than the next public holiday’s approaching and the SA’s can probably “see” that I may need their products to be convinced to part with my money. In the end, these SA’s need to understand the undeniable fact that giving away samples won’t hurt their sales.

    In fact, if the samples they happily give away results in that customer coming back and becoming a staunch “advocate” of what they sell, it’s a win-win situation for them. Other than that, just avoid looking them straight in the face. And when the samples comes into your hands, thank them as sincerely as you possibly can. This should make them feel a tad conscious about thinking that even though you asked for samples without buying a single thing, a warm and sincere “Thank You Very Much!” makes them feel embarrassed on the inside for “criticizing” you in their mind ?
    Pu N. last post is: Product Testing & Reviewing

  53. Sesame says:

    I suppose it depends on the SA’s attitude but your strategy should work well with most. Afterall, giving away samples is part of their sales strategy.

  54. Cynthia says:

    I usually don’t ask for samples but they tend to offer me a lot of samples (I live in the U.S. so it could be different here). I agree that samples are really important because for example I just bought an eye cream from La Prairie that I’m allergic to and that was $165 o_O I threw away the receipt too. I think it’s annoying about having to dress a certain way to go shopping. I see people in Saks Fifth Avenue wearing loads of makeup, carrying expensive bags and shoes, etc, and it’s like geez I’m just here to buy skincare products, I’m not going to a party! ? I have had a SA from Chanel be very rude to me (she kept me waiting for over an hour and when she got to me, she spent less than 5 minutes with me and kept running back and forth to talk to her friend, and when I asked her a simple question several times she said something unrelated in a very rushed and annoyed tone of voice although I made it clear from the beginning that I was planning to buy stuff) probably because of the fact that I was wearing light makeup or the fact that I’m Asian.

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