It Can’t Hurt to Ask

posted by Andrea | 01/11/2017
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Although I’m not nearly as frugal as I was 10 years ago, I still try to use our money wisely, get the best value, and save when it’s not too much of an inconvenience (no, I’m not going to drive all around town to save $0.05 on gas!)

One of the ways I save quite a bit (without sacrificing much time, effort, or quality of product) is by simply asking the right questions to the right people.

Let me give you a couple recent examples from my own life…

Asking for substitutions at the grocery store.

Last week, I wanted to buy a bunch of raspberries because they were deeply discounted and my kids LOVE raspberries. However, when I got to the produce department, they only had the MUCH pricier, not-on-sale, organic raspberries left.

I quickly asked an employee if they had any more raspberries in the back, but he immediately knew they were out.

So I grabbed several packages of the organic raspberries, found a manager, explained the situation, and asked if I could get the organic berries for the same price as the deeply discounted non-organic berries.

Without hesitation, she gave me the discount! So I got my fruit, I got my good deal, I didn’t have to go back to the store (or to a different store) and I only spent a few extra minutes at the store.

Asking for a better deal on a service.

As many of you know, Dave and I do not pay for cable anymore (we have an antenna to get the basic channels and use Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hoopla for everything else).

However, it took us a REALLY long time to actually cancel our cable because we had a package deal with both cable and internet, and every time we tried to cancel our cable, the internet price would skyrocket. We would have only saved about $5 to $10 per month by canceling our cable — which wasn’t worth it for Dave.

Finally, earlier this summer, I got on the phone with someone who sounded more willing to help me. I explained that we only wanted internet and I requested that our internet price stay the same. After a few minutes, the person finally agreed to let us keep our internet rate the same and drop the cable part of our plan.

So our internet price is locked in and our bill is half as expensive!

It did take several phone calls to finally get what I wanted, but considering we will be saving hundreds of dollars every year, it was definitely worth my persistent phone calls!

Asking for a discount on second-hand purchases.

I do A LOT of second-hand shopping — via Craigslist, garage sales, second-hand sales, and thrift stores — and I can often get an even deeper discount or a more advantageous outcome just by asking.

I recently purchased something off Craigslist but it was too big to fit in our van. I went to go look at it (just a few miles down the road) and told the seller I would buy the item if they could deliver it in their pickup truck. She immediately agreed and her husband delivered the item later that night.

I also had great luck at a garage sale a couple months ago. Nothing was priced (a pet peeve of mine) so I asked the seller how much she wanted for the 10 items I had picked out. I was prepared to negotiate down to $15… but she only asked for $6! If I had simply offered to pay $15, I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as good of a deal as if I had simply asked first.

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Personally, I do not feel like I’m cheating the system or trying to swindle people or companies out of their money. I’m simply asking a couple questions and letting the other party say “yes” or “no”. If they say “no”, I will not beg or plead for them to change their minds, but I also might not do business with them (example: I would not have purchased the organic raspberries unless I got the discount).

Aside from the time I spent on hold with the cable company, I hardly spent any amount of time or effort asking my questions, I didn’t have to search for sales or clip coupons, I didn’t have to send in any rebates or scan my receipts into an App, I simply asked a question and received the savings instantly.

I realize every situation is not always as simple as asking for a discount — but I’ve honestly been amazed how many times I’ve gotten a better deal just because I asked for it!

After all, it certainly can’t hurt to ask 🙂

Have you ever gotten a deal just by asking for it?

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30 comments

  1. Maria

    01/15/2017

    Great tips, Andrea. We also ask for parts if an item gets broken. My husband is especially good at this. He is always very polite and patient and is very good communicator. For example, last week my grandson broke a toy he got for Christmas and my husband called the manufacturer and simply asked for a part in order to fix it and was told no problem and the part would be mailed. A week later, to our surprise, we received 2 “Hex bugs” (robotic toy bugs) instead of the part, which I thought was very generous of the company. There have been many times that we simply call and ask for a part, discount, etc. and received it with no problem. As you say, all you have to do is ask and the worse that can happen is they say no.

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  2. Carrie Willard

    01/12/2017

    Yes! Absolutely. I find it interesting that haggling is a big part of the shopping experience in some cultures, and they literally consider it rude not to haggle, whereas in our culture, we sometimes get offended when someone asks for a lower price. But the other part is free to say no 🙂

    Right now we’re paying $60 a month for Comcast internet and cable simply because I asked. I’ve also gotten reduced rates on cell phone and other recurring bills just by asking.

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    Rhonda Reply:

    I was thinking that about the cultural aspect too – if you don’t haggle in some cultures, then they kick themselves thinking that they should have priced higher!

    This was a good reminder. I had recently been eyeing up a couple items at an antique store nearby, and noticed some tags listed a price, some some listed a price as “FIRM!” When I asked the store owner about it (he is just leasing the space to individual sellers), he offered up the 10% off for items over a certain price. Since I was getting 3 items at $85 each, that was a good chunk off!

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  3. Michelle

    01/11/2017

    My husband and I were Dish Network customers for over 18 years. We always paid on time every month. We were constantly getting flyers in our mail offering great deals for new Dish Network customers. I would call a couple times of year asking if they had any offers for existing customers with good payment history. One time they offered me $5 off my bill each month for 6 months but every other time they said they had no offers for existing customers and told me the only way for me to save money on my bill was to cut my package down. We really didn’t want to do that. Fast forward to approximately a year ago, my husband was off work for knee surgery and with no paycheck and medical bills piling up we put our Dish Network account on “vacation”. One day a man from a cable company was going door-to-door telling us cable was now available in our area and offered us a wonderful package deal on phone, internet, and cable TV which would be a locked-in price for 3 years. We went them and called Dish Network to cancel and suddenly they were willing to jump through hoops to keep us as customers offering us a deal that would have been too good to turn down had I not been so disgusted with them. I told them EXACTLY how I felt about years of asking and not getting anywhere with them then told them “too little, too late”. When the cable rates go up we’ll probably go with just Netflix and an antenna. Just gotta figure out how to get internet a little cheaper too.

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  4. Rhonda

    01/11/2017

    We have DIRECTV (fancy, I know!)…it is pricey, but great customer service. I call them about once every 6 months and they willingly give me $15-30 off my monthly bill (without even giving them any complaints). I simply tell them that we’ve been a good customer for many years, and inquire about any package deals or discounts. Easy peasy (except for the 5-10 minutes I spend on the phone).

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  5. Janice

    01/11/2017

    Now that we are in the senior citizen range, we ask for discounts all the time. They are never posted so you have to ask. And somehow I found out Chick Fil A will give us a FREE senior ice cream cone so that’s my drive-thru summertime treat. We’re still trying to work out the internet thing to save some money. Guess we just haven’t asked the right person yet. Will keep trying though.

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  6. Crystal Young

    01/11/2017

    We have a saying around here that goes – You’re already at no, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.

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    Tina Reply:

    Love this!

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  7. Karen Shireman

    01/11/2017

    I do the same! I figure the worst thing is that they will say “no”. For Target shoppers ~ if you scan an item to price check ~ and it comes up Item Not Found and you really want it ~ offer them a price at the register and they pretty much always give you that price. Just last week there were some twinkle lights that I really wanted. I found them in a random place and I bet they were Christmas leftovers, so I offered them $1 and they gave me that price. They were originally priced at $12.98. One of my girls worked there and taught me this trick……..lol

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  8. Karen

    01/11/2017

    I always ask for a military discount. I’ve saved on everything from shoes to our zoo membership. Most places don’t advertise a military discount – but still have a really good one. And I’ve found that places that don’t have a military discount will usually give me whatever other discount they do offer. It’s really nice.

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  9. Mara Yager

    01/11/2017

    Totally agree! I like VarageSale.com a lot. If I find an item I want to purchase, I always check the seller’s other items they have listed. It happens lots of times that they have several other items I need, so I offer them a lower price for the total than what they were asking. They are usually motivated to get rid of multiple things so they usually are more-than willing to accept my offer and I get an even better deal on my second hand things!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Believe it or not, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of VarageSale.com — but you better believe I’m going to be stalking it now!!

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  10. Nancy

    01/11/2017

    Yesterday, I sat down to pay the 6-month premiums for two of our three cars. We had met with our agent in October when we added our 16-year old to our policy (gulp!). They ran the numbers a few different ways then, so I was pretty sure there wasn’t much they could do now. But I called to ask, and saved over $70 just by switching which vehicle my daughter and I are rated as primary drivers on. I guess the lesson is that either things can change, or you can get a different answer depending on whom you talk to and when you call.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes! after I started working from home full time, I got a nice discount since I was hardly driving anywhere during the week.

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  11. Angela

    01/11/2017

    Smart. I totally agree! A pleasant, grateful, non-argumentative attitude goes along way toward people being willing to help you. And at garage sales, cute, well-behaved kids tend to get good bargains too! : )

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    Carrie Willard Reply:

    So true! I can’t count how many times my kids have gotten something free from a yard sale. And yes, I make sure they’re well-behaved. 🙂

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  12. Lynn

    01/11/2017

    I’ve had luck asking and being patient. A few weeks ago I ordered a new washer and dryer (we were blessed to be able to pay cash). I ordered online and all the necessary pieces. The store called me yesterday and asked if I was going to have them install and I asked how much that would cost. They said it would be free! I said yes! Better yet, they told me I needed to order the vent with it and they would put it on the truck when they delivered, I just had to call and pay for it. I was on the phone almost 30 minutes trying to pay for it, finally, they amended the order and told me it was free! I’ll take that! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — this is awesome! Glad the company took care of you!

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  13. Virginia

    01/11/2017

    My husband and I have huge deductibles on our health insurance and my husband has serious health problems that require him to be on a lot of medication. Now that we are at the beginning of a new year and a deductible to meet again, my recent trip to the pharmacy had me trying to come up with over a $1,000 to pay for just one month’s supply of two of the medications. The pharmacy tech told me that there are drug discount cards available online by googling the specific medication name that might help with the cost. Somehow I had missed that this was available or maybe thought we wouldn’t qualify since we did have health insurance through his employer. I left the store without the medications and went home and started looking online and making phone calls. I also contacted his cardiologist because sometimes I found out Dr’s have drug discount cards given to them by the drug company reps that they can give to the patient when prescribing a specific drug. The cardiologist didn’t have a drug discount card, but they gave me a three weeks free supply of the medication which saved us around $400.00. I did find a drug discount card online for that specific medication which will save us $70.00 a month until he meets his deductible. Now…for the other medication…a blood thinner…I found a drug discount card online for that drug…went to the pharmacy and I was able to get that prescription for FREE…a savings of close to $500.00!
    The only restrictions on these two particular drug discount cards were that you have commercial insurance (my husband is employed and has insurance through his employer) and that you NOT have government assistance such as Medicare or Medicaid.
    Sorry for the lengthy post…but hoping this helps someone else…as Andrea said…sometimes all you have to do is ask.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much for sharing this Virginia!

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  14. Sarah

    01/11/2017

    Great idea to ask for the internet price to be locked in! One of the reasons we’ve never gotten rid of cable is what you said – for a $10/month savings, it’s not worth it. I think we’re still on a contract from a recent move, but I’ll have to look at when that’s up and make a plan for phone calls!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I won’t lie, it took several phone calls to get what I wanted, but we are saving about $500 a year now!

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  15. Leslie

    01/11/2017

    When you reach a “certain age” (could be 55, 60, 62 or 65) many places offer a “senior discount.” I always get a “senior coffee” at McDonald’s. Many many places offer discounts for seniors but you have to ask!

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    Andrea Reply:

    good reminder! And also, there are SO many discounts and freebies for birthdays. if you ever go anywhere on your birthday, always ask if the restaurant or store have any birthday discounts.

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  16. Stacy

    01/11/2017

    I had a baby 9 weeks ago, and we had received a $4,800 bill from the hospital. I called them on the phone and asked them if they could give me a discount if I paid it in full that day. They didn’t even ask any more questions and told me they could give me 20% off (almost $1,000!) If I paid them that day. I quickly agreed! Always ask!! I heard from someone else that that same hospital had given them 35% off for a bill that was more in the 10k range. That’s huge!

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    Karen Reply:

    I had a similar situation- surgery costs were going to be $4000 – I asked to pay in full beforehand – they dropped it to $500. What?!?!

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    Andrea Reply:

    WHAT! That’s insane! way to go!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we do the same thing — we always get at least 10% – 20% for paying in full. a HUGE savings!

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    Jodi Reply:

    Do you do this for office visits or just for larger medical bills?

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    Sara Reply:

    Yes I did this with my medical bills after I had my first baby and got a 30% discount! I couldn’t believe it. Asked again with my second child and they said no. But that taught me it’s always worth it to ask!!

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