There are many ways to save money. Unfortunately, some people only focus on those that are well known such as using coupons and chasing down sales. One of the most overlooked ways of saving money is to simply ask for a discount. While you may think this is crazy, do it a couple of times and you will find out soon enough that it is a lot of fun, and the response from the salesperson isn’t as bad as you thought it might be. If you master the art of asking for a discount, you could save a lot of money in your lifetime when making larger purchases. You just need to know how to do it, when to do it, and how to handle the salesperson.
Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Utility companies are ready to bargain. Last month, after receiving all of my utility bills, I decided to target my water company and cell phone provider. My goal was simple: to ask for a discount and see how much I could save.
First up was the water company. Since I just moved into my home, they charged me a $25 activation fee. While not a huge amount of money, I knew that they could waive the charge if urged to do so. Fortunately, this was quite simple. Before I even had to “sell” the idea, the rep on the other end of the line agreed to cancel the charge. Talk about simple!
Next was Verizon: this was going to be a bit different, but with the same goal in mind. A few days before my last billing cycle ended, I realized that I used roughly 100 more minutes than my plan included. At $.45/minute, this was going to be a hefty charge. I started by apologizing to the customer service agent for not paying closer attention to my usage. From there I said, “Is there anything you can do for me so I don’t have to pay the overage fee this time?” Much to my surprise she said, “Sure, no problem. I can give you 250 promotional minutes for free.” So, not only did I save on the overage fee, but also snagged a few free minutes for future months.
2. Sometimes, it’s not so simple. In this case, you may need to pull out all the stops. One thing I have done in the past is threaten to cancel my coverage. While I hate to use this as a bargaining point, if it means getting a discount, you should consider doing so. Remember, you do not have to be rude. Just state the facts to the person you are speaking with. Tell them that there are other companies you could be working with, and that you hope something can be worked out so you can stay a customer.
3. Ask to speak with a manager or supervisor. Sometimes the first person you speak with will be adamant about turning you down. But guess what, if you get somebody else on the phone, especially a manager or supervisor, the tune will change in no time at all. If you are not getting the answers you want, kindly ask if you could speak to somebody else who may have more authority to help. Often, only a manager or supervisor has the authority to reimburse you or give you discounts.
4. Retail stores are not off limits. The price you see on a television, appliance, or any other item is not always what you have to pay. With this in mind, you need to get in contact with the right person, usually the manager, in order to discuss a discount.
If you find an item that is damaged or opened, you have a much better chance of success. I recently had a new refrigerator delivered to my home. After it was in place, the delivery guys told me to “check it out” while they got the paperwork ready.
Soon enough, I found a small ding on the door. It was nothing major but enough to be an annoyance for a brand new item. Rather than let it slide, I asked if there was anything they could do about it. I had two options: send it back and wait for a new one, or take advantage of a 10% discount that they were authorized to give for damaged goods. Instead of waiting for a new unit, which would have taken a couple days, I opted for the 10% discount. In the long run, asking about this small mark saved me more than $100.
5. What about grocery stores? Even though I have had success at other establishments, I have never tried to ask for a discount on groceries. But from what others have told me, this is more than possible, particularly on items that may be nearing their expiration date or in a clearance section. Again, if you are going to try this out you need to speak with a manager. Asking the checkout girl or bagger for a discount is not going to get you very far. Speak with the person who has the authority to bring out the pricing gun and make the change.
If you are afraid to ask for a discount, you are leaving money on the table. Do any of you have experience with a similar situation? What have you done to save?
(photo credit: dx.dealextreme)