When you do regular business with a company a bond of mutual trust often develops. We do a lot of buying from fellow hams, retail outlets catering to our hobby and other companies that have the hardware and services we need to build and maintain our stations.
A good vendor will be more responsive to your needs when you offer them returning business and you can rest easy knowing that you are getting good value for your money. Occasionally the vendor will go the extra distance to show their appreciation for your business. On your part you need to be a good customer by being reasonable with your expectations and, yes, settling your account promptly.
The local tower service company doing the foundation work for my big tower surprised me recently with a box of hardware. This is scrap from commercial towers and antenna installations. Since for safety and engineering reasons it is common nowadays that new material must be used in building projects used but still good material often ends up as scrap metal or goes to the landfill.
The quality of most of the hardware is first rate: hardened steel (grade 5) and well galvanized for durability in a harsh environment. Fasteners are almost all ⅜" and ½" sizes, which I often need. I took the picture after sorting.
Some of the hardware is lesser quality and some that was discarded due to damage. You can usually spot the lower grade steel hardware by the evidence of bends, tears and dimples from use. Shiny hardware is typically plated rather than hot dip galvanized. You can see examples of both in the group of nuts at the bottom centre of the photo.
Those large size u-bolts (4-½" opening) are especially valuable for one large antenna project I am currently considering: a full size 40 meter yagi. The smaller u-bolts will most likely be used as element clamps on HF yagis.
If you investigate the pricing for hardware of this size and quality you'll find that the total adds up quickly. Any hardware I don't need can always be re-gifted to other hams.
The gesture from the company is appreciated. If I have to spend money I prefer to spend it with people who treat me
well. It's worth searching them out and to treat them well in return.
Since we cannot count on gifts it helps to be a good scrounger. I'm sure you've met hams like this, or perhaps you are one. They have an instinct for reaching out to people and businesses that might have surplus material and products that can be turned to good use by an ingenious ham.
A scrounger needs to be outgoing. You have to cold call people and build personal relationships. Scroungers (like the best sales professionals I've worked with) are very protective of the relationships they build so you cannot often ride their coattails. Scrounging is something you must learn do yourself.
Quite a few big guns built their stations scrounging coax, towers, hardware, electronic parts and much more, saving countless thousands of dollars along the way. They are to be commended. I am not as good at scrounging as I'd like to be so the occasional gift basket is very welcome.