Why You're Getting Free Samples in the Mail From Amazon

We've all got different reasons for how we react to surprises in the mail. It could be a scam, or maybe a trap designed to glitter-bomb porch thieves, or a perfectly delightful care package from Aunt Millie. When the world's most valuable company keeps sending you treats all on its own, however, that might be worth a second look.

Some Amazon customers may have been intrigued/delighted/confused to receive free samples they didn't order lately. This is part of a new strategy that does two things for Amazon: It gains ad dollars through companies offloading those samples, and it lets Amazon nudge its users toward buying a full-sized product. The samples are, in fact, related to customers' shopping history, though we don't know the specifics, i.e., whether (or how) Amazon is using browser history, past purchases, or whatever you've been keeping in your cart, trying to decide if you should splurge or not.

The biggest concern for consumer advocates is privacy. Amazon already breaks into your home and your car to make deliveries, but the data implications of the free sample program could get sticky if you think too hard about it. If you'd like to opt out, you can visit this page while logged into your account and choose the second option, "I do not want to receive personalized samples from Amazon's sampling program." If, however, free samples from Amazon sounds rad to you, select the page's first option and also opt into "Marketing information by post" within the Communication Preferences Center.