By nature I am extremely shy. At age six, at a children’s party at McDonald’s, I burst into tears when my father asked me to order french fries from the teenage cashier behind the counter. When I was seven he forced me to order my own meals whenever we went out to eat. I absolutely dreaded talking to the waiter or waitress and fought with him almost every time he asked me do it.
As an adult I still find myself fighting off my shy tendencies. My husband says I’m much more outgoing when I feel knowledgeable and in control, which is probably why I’m extremely outspoken at work and extremely quiet at a dinner parties.
In the past I would certainly have been too shy and timid to ask for a discount, a refund, or cash back on a recent purchase. Lately I’ve been doing all of these things without fear. A few months back I called Comcast, Direct TV and Vonage and reduced all three bills by a total of $497 this year. Feeling confident in my success I called Sears, (when I noticed the stove and refrigerator I ordered had gone on sale), and received a $234 refund.
A few weeks ago I received a voucher for a $5 gift card from the Tanger Outlet. Unfortunately, the voucher was set to expire in July and I won’t be back to the Tanger Outlet until August. I contacted a customer service representative and asked if they’d be willing to send me a new voucher with a delayed expiration date. A few days later I received a new voucher valid through August 31st.
Two days after that I let the manager of a local diner know that my meal was less than stellar, when I was presented with a plate full of burnt bacon and dried out eggs. The manager presented me with a coupon for a free entree to encourage my return to his establishment.
Last week I called the health club near my husband’s office and haggled for a better deal on membership fees. Although my husband decided not to join that gym I felt very confident in presenting my case and talking with the sales manager.
In fact, every time I make a phone call I feel more confident in my abilities to negotiate a better deal. I’m quickly learning that it never hurts to ask. In the months since I started speaking up I’ve only been turned down once. (Cingular refused to discount our bill because my husband and I are iPhone users.) Best of all, a couple of phone calls and person-to-person conversations have already saved us over $750 this year.