When an opportunity comes around that makes an item free and I have use for it, I grab it. A truly free item is rare if you think about it. I love watching shows on Hulu and when I heard the company was thinking of charging for Hulu I was bummed. But I do realize I still pay for it in a small way, by paying for my internet access, which works out to pennies for the things I do (coupons, maps, tv shows, blogging), but I still do pay for it and it isn't completely free unless I was stealing my neighbors internet or using wifi at the library.
There are so many ways to get free items but most of them come with a price in some form.
BOGO items -
You can't get a free item unless you buy another of the same item at regular price. The free part is only if you were going to purchase that item anyway, otherwise it is money being paid for essentially two items.
Free Lunch -
This is commonly used at work with the boss buying lunch, but it is usually on the heels of reaching a goal or volunteering beforehand. There is the occasional 'free lunch' due to a holiday brings out the kindness in people.
Free Sample -
Receiving free samples is considered free however what have you given to get the sample in return? In most cases you have given your email and home address, thus giving up a bit of your privacy for their advertising list. Also there is the added storage that may be necessary if sample gathering is hobby - storage takes space and to some who don't have a lot of storage that is premium space.
Drawings for Vacations and Cars -
They have a Smart car that is being given away 'free' at the nearby mall, but in order to just enter, not win, I had to give name, address, income and select some personal interests. Again, a privacy issue but the biggest part is that wining this "free" car means big taxes when I take ownership of it.
Dumpster Finds -
I have dumpster dived a dresser and picked up a cedar chest but I didn't just bring them home and plop them down, they were sanded down and either painted or stained. That meant I had to buy paint and sandpaper and stain. It may not be a larger cost, but still, not totally free.
Free Communities -
This are wonderful places to pick up free stuff, however there is a small cost to some of these as well. Depending on the item you are looking for and how far out of the way you may have to go to find it, that would mean you have gas to buy and if you don't have a truck to pick it up, you may have to rent one. If you need help getting the item in the truck, then there might be the cost of paying for a lunch to have one of your friends help you out.
It all depends on how you look at the "free" item, if what you give of your time, privacy, repair and gas is minute to you than the free item has value above what has been put into getting it. In my case, I'm glad I signed up for the Smart car giveaway- the chance to win one is worth the information gathered from me and the taxes inevitably will come.