If You Want To Spend Less, Just Ask — One Consumer’s Experience

December 16, 2009 at 7:48 PM (Saving Money)

I do not consider myself to be a haggler by nature nor do I take pride in being manipulative.  In fact, I enjoy efficiently getting in and out of stores and avoiding contact with most sales associates.  However, getting the nerve to negotiate and asking companies to bend for you can REALLY save you some money.  By not asking, you are avoiding confrontation AND avoiding saving money as well.

I recently had two money saving experiences that had positive outcomes.  Both situations required me to take action on my end.   After all, companies want to make as much money from you as possible and don’t normally give handouts.

Scenario #1: Picture this.  I’m in Lane Bryant looking at sweaters.  I went to buy black pants and ended up browsing the sweaters while I was there.  Of course we all know that browsing is the enemy of frugality but that’s another topic for another day.  Back to the sweaters.  They were on sale–buy one get one half off.  Lane Bryant is typically a bit too expensive for me but I decided that I would at least entertain the idea of picking out a couple of sweaters.  I get to the register and notice that the sweater prices were off by about $5.  Now this was when I became torn.  Do I mention the $5 or not?  I decide to.  The manager comes over and whips out her calculator.  To me it was simple math but apparently their discount system is really complicated.  She struggles with it a few minutes and apologizes more than once.  While waiting I notice that they have little coupon booklets sitting at the register.  I ask the lady in a wink wink sort of way, “Ohhh can I use one of these today?”  She replies, “No.  They are for the next time you come in the store.”  I wait a few minutes while the manager continues to work on the sweater issue.  She finally figures out that I’m right and tells the cashier how to fix the problem.  I ask about the coupon again.  The manager hesitated and said, “Sure.  Why not?”  Woohoo!  The coupon was for $25 off my order!!  Score!  Of course I turned around and bought a Christmas gift with that $25 but I’m not complaining!

Scenario #2: A recent blog post on Get Rich Slowly reminded me of something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while.  Ben and I have been loyal Comcast customers for over a year now.  We only have internet service (no land line or cable by choice).  We’ve been paying $63 per month just for internet.  Yikes!  For months I’ve been putting off calling them and finally did so tonight.  Well actually, it started out online.  I chatted with one of their online representatives for a while and didn’t really get anywhere.  You can read the conversation below.  I called the number that the online representative gave me and was transferred to three different people before I reached someone with decision making power.  What I was requesting was a permanent reduction in the cost of our internet service.  Was I 100% successful?  No.  But, they did agree to knock off $15 per month from our bill for the next 6 months.  They actually did offer me a “economic recession plan” for $40 a month but the speed was slower than our current plan.  So, I took the $15 discount for 6 months.  That’s $90!  I’ll call them again in a few months and see what else I can renegotiate, but for now, I’m happy.  Admittedly the process was annoying since I had to talk to two different people online and three different people on the phone, but I knocked it all out while making dinner so it wasn’t wasted time.

Do you have any similar stories?  Remember, it never hurts to ask!

*****************************************

Maria : Hello Stephanie, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Maria. Please give me one moment to review your information.  Hi. How are you today?

Stephanie: Hi I’m doing well and yourself?

MariaI am glad to hear that.

Mary: Happy Holidays! Thank you for contacting Comcast. If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us through Live Chat or E-mail (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Simply visit http://www.comcast.net and select Help.

Maria: I am fine, thank you. How may I help you?

Stephanie: Well Maria, I love having Comcast but am not at all happy about the price. I have been thinking about switching to a different company like Clear or AT&T. But I wanted to give you a chance to offer me a cheaper plan first.  I would like to keep my exact same plan at a lower price.

Maria: I would be glad to help you. Please give me two minutes while I pull up your account.

Maria: May I have your phone number.

Stephanie: ***-***-****  Right now I am paying around $63 for just internet. I would be much more comfortable paying around $30.

Maria: Thank you.

Stephanie: And I am not interested in any sort of bundle plan.

Maria: Please give me a minute to check on the account.

Stephanie: No problem.

Maria:  To ensure the integrity of your account information, may I have the full account name. Also, please provide me with your 16 digit account number or the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number.

Stephanie: Stephanie Fishel-Brown

Stephanie: and ****

Maria: Thank you for verifying the account. I understand you need help in lowering the bill.   It shows that you have internet service only.  You have reached the Cable Department. I will be transferring you to the high-speed internet department to further assist you.

Stephanie: Ok thank you.

Maria: You are most welcome.  Do you have other concerns or issues I can help you with today?

Stephanie: No I would just like to talk to someone about my internet bill.

Maria: I will connect your chat now with an internet specialist. Please stay on the line.

Stephanie: Thank you.

Maria: Happy holidays.  You are most welcome.  Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst.

Mary: I will be happy to assist you. By the way,how are you doing?

Stephanie: I’m doing well Mary. 🙂

Mary: Nice to know that! smile

Stephanie: Do I need to retype my conversation with Maria or are you able to read the conversation above?

Mary: Let me review the conversation you had with Maria. Please give me two minutes.

Stephanie: Awesome. Thanks!

Mary: You’re most welcome.  While I am reviewing the conversation, I would like to provide you more information regarding your Comcast Internet Service. Your Comcast High-Speed Internet gives you valuable extras like online security, the Universal Address Book and more. To learn more about the Comcast High Speed Internet Benefit. Kindly click on this link: http://www.comcast.net/benefits/

Mary: Stephanie, thank you so much for patiently waiting. I understand that you need a cheaper price.

Stephanie: Yes, definitely.

Stephanie: Are you there?

Mary: Yes, I am checking if there are possible promotions that you can avail of.

Stephanie: I am interested in a permanent price reduction if possible, not something that lasts just 6 months or so.

Mary: Let me check on that. Please give me two minutes. Stephanie, I believe that you will appreciate it more if you will have a permanent price. This is the best thing that I can suggest. Please do contact our dedicated team for this issue. We call them Customer Loyalty Group because they are the team who can apply discounts to the account. It is 1-800-2662278 or 1-888-2662278 and request to transfer your call to Customer Loyalty Group. The best time to call them Stephanie is from 8AM-5PM. Are you there Stephanie?

Stephanie: Yes I am on the phone with them now.

Mary: Please acknowledge that you are still on your computer and still need this chat Stephanie. I believe I was given you the information you need to have a permanent lower price.

Mary: Perfect!

Stephanie: Thank you for your help!

Mary: Do you have anything else that I can assist you with?

Stephanie: No, I am good. Thanks!

Mary: Good bye and Take Care.

Maria
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3 Comments

  1. Donna Jezeski said,

    We got a $150 credit from Verizon FIOS (our internet provider) because we discovered that we were not getting the speed we had been paying for due to an error that was made when the equipment was set up. They were going to just fix it and not compensate us, had we not directly asked for it. I mean, I guess we just got what was due to us so it’s not quite the same thing… but we never would have gotten it if we hadn’t asked. You can’t be afraid of confrontation when dealing with any kind of company. Awesome job getting the discount!

  2. Aubre said,

    Awesome! Thanxs for the info, it has motivated me to check on some of our payments and see if I can lower them. It really is worth it to haggle a little, as uncomfortable as it may be, it usually does pay off. This is how I got our entire roof replaced for FREE! Thanks Steph…good info!

  3. TechMom said,

    My specialty seems to be contructive complaining. If I don’t get good service, I tell someone about it. Remember a couple years back when we were all at Outback and all got our meals strung out over an hour? Truthfully, I’d rather have had decent service and an uneventful meal, but when we didn’t get it, I asked to speak to the manager and we got the whole meal for free? Not that I’m a chronic complainer, but when the opportunity arises, I nail it!

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