Who says you can't get something for nothing? Of course it's been possible for a long time to download all kinds of free or virtually free software from the Internet, but you can also get everything from cosmetics to children's toys, magazines and CDs for nothing via various specialist freebie sites. The sites act as intermediaries for companies and organisations which want to promote themselves and/or get research feedback from the public - so at worst you may have to fill out a questionnaire.

American freebie sites are well established and offer a bewilderingly esoteric array of products. Scavengers Quest, for example, has links to products ranging from free jelly beans and Brisky pet food "for hedgehogs, chinchillas, sugar gliders and ferrets", to the Billy Graham evangelical calendar and Great World prayer bookmarks. The Hambone the Hamster Freebies for Kids site, meanwhile, has a cute star-rating system for its free links: one hamster for "OK, but didn't get my wheel spinning", two for "worth a few spins on the wheel" and three for "Excellent! Definitely got my workout". Among the site's more surprising three-hamster-raters are two dental freebies: the Interactive Dental Office, which is apparently a game, and the American Dental Hygienist site, which will send you a free toothbrush if you can find the four hidden ones.

The problem with the American sites, however, is that most of the organisations and companies are based in the US and some of them will not mail overseas. Which is where the new British sites such as MoneySaver- UK and UK Free Stuff come in. Though not yet as extensive or eclectic as their US counterparts, they still have enough stuff to satisfy most penny-pinching surfers with too much time and not enough money on their hands. UK Free Stuff has offerings ranging from a

two-CD indie sampler, courtesy of online music mag The Knowledge, to the Tyson Chicken Club cookbook, after which you may also need its free Zantac indigestion remedy and, indeed, its VitalEyes eyewash sample - all that online bargain-hunting is hard work.


good links page for UK freebie sites


Scavengers Quest


Hambone The Hamster Freebies For Kids