What Is the Smallest Amount of Money You Would Haggle Over?

Imagine you’re in the grocery store and you hand the cashier a coupon for a particular product, but the register doesn’t recognize it. Do you tell the cashier not to worry about it and move on or do you ask her to call a manager to help you resolve the issue?

How large does the coupon amount need to be for you to wait for a fair resolution? Does it matter if the coupon is 10 cents or 1 dollar? What if the coupon were 5 or 10 dollars? Would that make a difference on how hard you would fight to be able to use it?
A friend of mine couldn’t believe that I followed up with a local store after they refused to accept my $5 coupon. In that particular case I pursued the issue with two quick emails and a short trip to the store, but my friend assured me she wouldn’t hassle with a similar issue just to save $5.
I certainly weigh my projected savings against the amount of time and effort I have to resolve a problem, but I must say that more often than not I’ll take a minute or two to save a few dollars.
I once returned a small carton of cherry tomatoes that were moldy the day after I purchased them. The entire container only cost $2.50, but it was $2.50 I didn’t want to flush straight down the tubes. If I had to drive out of the way to get to the grocery store I probably wouldn’t have pursued the issue, but since the store is on my way home from work I saw no reason not to stop in.
I won’t always fight to use my manufacturer’s coupons, but if a couple fail in a given transaction I’ll certainly stop by the customer service desk on the way out of the grocery store to find out why. If the line is long I’ll hold the coupons and receipt until my next visit.
A couple of times the cashier has forgotten to provide credit for my reusable bags. At only 5 cents a pop I’ve only followed up with customer service once when this happened and it was on an order where a few sale items didn’t ring up properly.
I’m not sure that I have a minimum threshold for haggling, but I know I won’t wait in line for 10 minutes to earn back 10 cents. In those cases my time is much more valuable than the money.
How about you? What is the minimum amount of money you would fight for and how much time and effort would you put into fighting for it?

8 thoughts on “What Is the Smallest Amount of Money You Would Haggle Over?”

  1. I have haggled many a time over wrong pricing, and coupons not working. Just yesterday, I had 2 $1.50 off coupons that weren't scanning and they didn't want to accept them. Well, then I wasn't going to take the merchandise and pay full price! So the manager made an exception. That was $3! Then a few weeks ago, CPK frozen pizzas were on sale for $4 and I had a $1 off coupon. Well I noticed after I left the store that the pizza rang up for full price at $7. I drove back to the store (it's seriously 2 mins from my house) and got my $3.50 back.
    I don't have kids though, and so I guess I have a lot of time to devote right now to saving money. This may change in the future, but for right now, on one income, we need to watch our pennies everywhere.

  2. Good post. I'm like you, if I can figure that it's worth my time, then I will haggle. If it's out of my way though and the amount is small, then I probably won't (mainly because I hate driving).

  3. I don't use a lot of coupons, but if they don't go through I do point it out. As for returning moldy produce, it makes sense for two reasons: you still want the produce, and you don't want to waste the money. I will go to customer service if my bill rang up incorrectly.

  4. I will definitely haggle over amounts larger than a dollar. Last week, I waited for 10 minutes at the service desk for a manager to determine whether she could offer me their online price, and left the store without the shoes after an employee placed the order online for me so I could get the discount – I was prepared to wait for the shoes for two weeks, but I got them by Saturday – a GREAT deal considering I saved nearly $30!

    Once I've got home and noticed a mistake, I'll rarely go back unless it's really egregious – the waste of time rarely compensates for the money.

  5. For me it's less about the amount and more about the percentage. If it's 50 cents off a $12 bag of frozen chicken I usually don't fuss; but if it's 50 cents off a $1.29 can of tuna I absolutely will wait to get a manager to void the order or substitute a code or whatever magic they seem to do. It's the same amount of money but there's a psychological element for me that makes it matter more when it's forty percent off an item rather than three or four percent.

  6. I stood down a Starbucks barista over the refillable thermos 10 cent discount because of his attitude. He rang up the coffee and didn't apply the discount. When I reminded him, he said, "It's only ten cents."

    Nosir, it IS ten cents. Don't "only" the dime.

    Also because I don't care that it's only 10 cents this time, I purchased that cup for PiC to save money over the long term and letting it go at the register is just silly. But I try to make sure to get all the value at the counter before I leave, I prefer not to have to go back if I don't have to in case I have to go out of the way.


Leave a Comment