We try it!

We Try It: BzzAgent

Do you like to get free stuff? Excellent! You should totally sign up for BzzAgent, a site that matches you with companies that will send you free products or give you access to free services in exchange for reviews.

BzzAgent logo with a bee

Getting started is easy. When you first sign up, you’ll need to complete a lot of profile surveys. It can be a bit time-consuming, but it lets them match you up with products you’ll hopefully be interested in. You’ll also need to check back to the survey page periodically, since they add new questionnaires all the time as they get new products in. Once you get through the initial batch, the follow-up surveys tend to be much quicker; sometimes they’re even a single question. Some surveys and other activities will also earn you points at MyPoints if you choose to set up and link an account there. It doesn’t hurt, but it’ll take forever to actually get enough points to cash them out unless you do other activities on the site. (In six months I’ve gotten 252 points; a $10 Target giftcard is 1750 points.) You should link your Facebook and Twitter accounts when you sign up; you’ll need that later on once you join a campaign (but don’t worry; they won’t post without your permission).

Next comes the waiting. All BzzAgents are given a numerical score based on their activity level on the site, and priority is generally given to users with high scores. Of course, even if you complete every survey as soon as they’re posted, you can only get up to about a 3.5/10.0 without joining a campaign and giving feedback on the products, so it can take a while to get your first campaign and really build up your score. And unfortunately, you may not have any interest in the campaigns you’re offered. The first one I was invited to join was for GoDaddy, which nope. Next was Claritin-D, which seems like a good match based on my allergies, except that the “D” part messes with my head something fierce.

Finally I got invited to a campaign for TruMoo, which I accepted because the kiddo loves having chocolate milk for breakfast. I got a coupon for a free jug of milk in the mail, along with a bunch of discount coupons to give to friends. Different campaigns have different activities available, but in general they’re looking for you to spread the word about their products via social media, blogging, and word-of-mouth. You get points for each activity you complete (and they want you to be honest; don’t say you loved a product if it actually sucked), which then increases your likelihood of getting invited to future campaigns. There wasn’t much available at the end of the year, but last month I was accepted into three different campaigns!

First up, I got a free Schick® Hydro Silk® Sensitive Care® razor and replacement blades in the mail, plus a coupon for free shaving cream. I was psyched because razors are expensive and I’m always reluctant to shell out for new ones I might hate, and I don’t think these are even available in stores yet. And in this case, I’m really glad I didn’t pay, because it turns out that I hate the moisturizing serum. It basically slicks down your hair and makes it really hard for the blades to actually cut it off instead of sliding right over it. I’ve shaved my underarms five times since getting it in the mail and it still hasn’t reached some of the hairs (and I’m not just an incompetent shaver or something). Also, the serum tends to bubble out of its little holes on either side of the blades and make a wall that makes it even harder for the blades to actually touch your skin, leaving really long stubble. I’ll use up the blades they sent me, because I’m a cheapskate, but I definitely won’t buy them when I run out.

Next, I got into a campaign that sent me coupons for free Glade® Wax Melts and PlugIns® Scented Oil Customizables™ (they’re both available in different scents, so I got to pick the ones I liked). I haven’t actually tried these out yet since I can’t find my wax burner and only found the plugin at the store yesterday, but I’m excited!

And saving the best for last, I got approved to try out the new Keebler® Simply Made cookies. I was expecting to get coupons, but they sent me a box with full-sized packages of chocolate chip and butter cookies! Nothing will brighten up your day like free cookies in the mail. And for supermarket cookies, they’re pretty good. Not fantastic, but I’d probably buy them again if I was in the mood for that sort of thing. They use better ingredients than a lot of mass-market cookies; sugar instead of HFCS, actual semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of “chocolatey” chips, etc. I’m not at all someone who gets flail-y about “chemicals!!!” in food, but it’s nice that companies are making an effort to make better products.

By [E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

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