Why shoppers will not automatically get free samples now in France

Customers will now need to ask for creams, perfumes, and other goods at till

Anti-waste laws also contributed to the end of automatic receipts in France

Free small samples of certain products are set to become a thing of the past in France… unless you ask for them.

The rule change is part of the overarching anti-waste laws of 2020, and seeks to reduce the number of unused samples, which get thrown away and cannot be recycled.

The changes mean that certain free samples – usually given to shoppers at the point of purchase – can no longer automatically be handed out.

Customers will now have to physically ask to be given the free samples advertised when buying other items.

What samples are affected?

Not all samples (échantillons) are concerned, however.

A decree – published last month but currently gaining national attention as shops tweak their policies – categorises the samples affected as:

“a small quantity of merchandise packaged differently from the product marketed and given to consumers free of charge.” 

This mostly applies to small sachets or pots of creams and other beauty products, or of perfumes or make-up.

Certain samples are not affected, including “foodstuffs that are not pre-packaged… given to consumers free of charge on the spot,” such as those you are given in supermarkets. 

Samples handed out as part of press releases are also unaffected by the decree, which you can read in full here

Read more: Why shoppers are still opting for paper till receipts in France

Can I continue to get free samples? 

Consumers can still get samples if they expressly ask for them at the till. 

Shops and businesses can inform consumers “by any means necessary” about the changes, and guide them on how to ask for free samples. 

This includes via email, notifications through a store’s app, or text message.

Read more: Primark plans to double number of low-cost fashion shops in France

More simply, shop workers can also inform customers at the point of purchase that free samples are available with the product they are purchasing. 

All shoppers need to do is consent to them being put in the bag, and they will keep free samples. 

It also applies when purchasing a product online. If a customer responds that they wish to receive free samples with their digital purchase, they will continue to do so for all future purchases until they withdraw the request.