I want SparkFun, etc., to source a few thousand of these matrix driver packages (significantly less than $5 in quantity), so they can reduce the single-quantity pricing!
And miss out on at least $4 in profit? Sheesh!
I just looked at the MAX7221, which in single quantities is over ten bucks. Plus the shipping. Yow. On the one hand, that's the difference between affordability and not, for small projects. On the other hand, that's an even bigger "how do they think they get more profit out of me by giving it away" guilt.
The free samples that you receive are (usually, but not always) chips that did not meat the manufactures specs.
Free samples are given to engineering companies to see if the part is suable for a product. These samples are often subjected to rigorous tests and failure to comply will rule out that manufacturer from ever being chosen for a volume order. I know that is the way it works at any company I have ever worked at.Therefore a manufacturer would be a complete fool to offer "seconds".