It Never Hurts to Ask

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.

3 thoughts on “It Never Hurts to Ask”

  1. Hurrah! What a triumph. I too get very shy, and have always been that way. I remember that my mom made me talk to customer service to return a toy in Kmart one day when I was very young–the experience was incredibly scary for me! It’s so funny to look back and think of how scared I was, because adults are usually so forgiving of children. I wished I’d learned how to deal with people when I was younger and had more leeway to make mistakes!

    Anyway, good for you for forcing yourself to do those things–saving money is a great motivator! It only gets easier (or so I’ve heard)!

  2. I think I need to call all my providers and ask for better deals. Your post has inspired me to do so. Thanks for blogging and the money-saving ideas.

  3. I will talk to anybody and everybody; I used to be a newspaper reporter and I *had* to talk to anybody and everybody. I still do, even though I’m now a blogger rather than a reporter. I talk to people on buses, in supermarkets, on the university campus. Heck, last week I struck up conversations with other women while we waited for mammograms.
    But asking somebody for a better deal? That takes some doing.
    Thanks for writing this, because it shows even people who are shy or afraid of confrontation can overcome the tendency and save themselves some money.


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