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During the holidays, my wallet gets a little thin just like everyone else’s. Taking a break from home improvement projects is certainly helping, but it just seems like around this time, the list of wants (and wanting to please) is always more than my budget can take.
I bring this up because I’ve recently had a great customer service experience and wanted to share. Not just because I shop at this store regularly and wanted to share some appreciation, but also because it has to do with one of the things I struggle with year-round:
I rarely ask for discounts. And I rarely make returns.
I know, I’m violating every rule that it means to be a do-it-yourself-er by uttering the two above statements, but it’s true. I’m a bargain hunter and take advantage of sales all the time, but I don’t like to work for it. I rarely find myself asking for the additional discount, I rarely take advantage of that coupon on the receipt (ahem, Michaels), and I seldom return things I don’t 100% love. I often put it aside or find a new way to make it work.
If I really had to give a reason, I suppose it’s that I always feel so busy. Returns are a hassle, and so is haggling with the store clerk who has to get her manager before any life-altering decisions (like 10% off a $40 purchase) are made. I have things to do, like get back to the office during my was-that-really-an-hour?!?!? lunch break. I also don’t like rejection, even from a barcode scanner-wielding store clerk.
But, with all of the purchases I’ve been making in the last year, I’m learning over and over again how much your budget can be altered by just asking. You won’t win 100% of the time, maybe not even 20%, but the savings really adds up. Case in point: I recently purchased four new pairs of pants from Ann Taylor Loft (a favorite shop) during one of their sales. As in, it was Tuesday, and it’s Loft – there’s always a sale. If you happen to be in the store or online during the few minutes that they aren’t, then wait another five. Bam, new coupon code.
Anywho, the sale was 30% off sale items (so, discount + discount) and free shipping. Me being the busy bee that I am, I saved myself the “hassle” of clothes shopping (hey, it’s Christmas, I got a lot to do, mmkay?) and ordered late on a Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, a mere six hours later, I get an email with a coupon code for 40% off and free shipping. So, not wanting to miss out on the extra 10, I called Loft and explained the sitch to the store clerk. If they couldn’t do it, I explained, I would simply cancel my order and re-order using the new coupon, so could they (pretty) please save me the trouble? Immediately, she said that they could do it (yay!), but I’d have to wait until the order was shipped before they could do anything to the total. Darn, I thought, now that’s two phone calls. But, the next day, I got the shipping info and called their 800 number again. Success; they could change my order, and they were going to take an additional 10% off.
And now, for the obnoxious part of the story: it took me about ten minutes to fully explain to the store clerk that I didn’t want 10% off of the already discounted total; I wanted them to go back to the original total and take 40% off. Why? Because 10% off of something that’s already 30% discounted is not the same thing as 40% off. It’s more like 37%, which is a big enough difference to fight for when my order was nearly $200.
It was at this point that the rep put me on hold and spoke to her supervisor. After another ten minutes on hold, I was told that they would “do the math” and call me back in two to five business days. I know I’m venting, but really? It takes two to five days to calculate this? No wonder I never bother doing this.
But, remember, this is a story with a happy ending. This morning, I got an email that confirmed that I am being refunded the difference between the 30% and 40%, which comes to about $30. That’s like, a whole Christmas gift of difference (or, possibly, another pair of pants). If I’d just let the clerk give me the 10% off the discounted amount, I would have lost out on ten bucks. To put it into perspective, that’s a whole roomful of dollar store Christmas decor.
And the icing on the clearance cake? My order arrived in about three days. My total winnings: a week’s worth of new pants for work, an extra $30 in my pocket, and the satisfaction that I got a great deal. Maybe this asking thing isn’t as much of a hassle as I always think it is. I guess the lesson learned here is that asking doesn’t hurt, even if it takes the extra ten minutes of your day that you don’t feel you have to spare. Is there anyone else out there who is like me, or is this a non-issue? How do you find the time to take care of not only the shopping-for errands, but the return-tos as well? Any tips or tidbits on your own experiences? Spill.