My mom lives by the idea that you’ll never know the limits of what’s available to you unless you ask. Whether she is haggling a lower price at a yard sale, getting a discount on a slightly damaged item from a store, or asking if someone will take an expired coupon, she has taught me that the worst that can happen is a “no” and the BEST that can happen is you save money and get free stuff! You don’t have to be a bold and shameless tight wad either. Any company with a customer service number intends to offer service. It’s up to you to find out how much money that service puts back in your pocket.
Now I’m not talking about dishonesty or taking advantage here. I’m just talking about getting the quality/product guarantee that is inherently attached to the things you invest in. I’m talking about being rewarded for providing valuable product feedback.
Here are 3 categories for which you can simply pick up the phone (sometimes an email or a trip to the store is required) and have broken things replaced, gross things reimbursed and worn things renewed.
Food and Beverage
Almost every package or bottle has the words “Questions or Comments?” and a phone number printed on it. This is something you should take care to note if you are dissatisfied with the taste or appearance of a product. Hold on to that package (you will need to read off the UPC information and other stamped dates) and pick up the phone! You in no way need to be rude or whiny, but can simply state the problems with your food or beverage and the customer service representative will type these comments into their system. They will ask you for the information on the package and then they will ask you for your NAME, PHONE NUMBER and ADDRESS. Don’t worry, they aren’t coming to your house. They want to send you free stuff! Usually it’s in the form of a coupon or multiple coupons for the same item or brand.
Once I called Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream because I strangely got a pint of ice cream that was missing all the mix-ins! They sent me a coupon for a free pint, plus several other coupons for a specific amount off my purchase of future pints.
I’ve also called a cracker company because their crackers were stale, and I’ve called Nestle over a stale Kit Kat bar! Secondarily, you can still bring the item back to the store with your receipt and get a full refund.
Pretty much anything other than food falls under this category. Like I said, if they have a customer service number line, you can contact them. I’ll share two recent examples from my own life:
First, my kitchen faucet has a matching, built-in soap dispenser that recently broke. I keep the owners manual for these kinds of things but even if you don’t have the original model number, etc, the company can often work around that. I explained what had happened and without any questions they sent me a brand new dispenser! This is the 2nd time this company has freely replaced part of my faucet for me, even though I’ve owned this for nearly 7 years.
Second, my electric razor and trimmer recently stopped working. Just quit. Even with a new battery it was just not turning on. Plus the trimmer blade was rusting (this blade is not disposable/replaceable). I remembered this thing coming with warranty paperwork but I had thrown it away long ago. Then I decided to look up my purchase history on Amazon and lo and behold I bought this sucker 2 years ago. Still, I googled the Schick customer service number. After a short conversation about the problem, and after I had followed some simple troubleshooting instructions given by the representative, he asked me for my name, address and phone number (again, don’t panic here) and told me I would be sent a new one in 7-10 business days! Money saved: $14
I’ve also had a baby swing replaced (Money saved: $80) and had random parts to toys that my daughter lost (like bows for Minnie Mouse) sent to me completely free. Thank you Fisher-Price.
These are probably my least favorite phone calls. Nobody likes dealing with cable, phone and internet companies. But sometimes that frustrating phone call can save you money every month, so it’s worth it. Our internet bill seems to fluctuate often. I am often calling to correct them on charges, but I have also called many times because the price had gone up due to an expired “special” we were no longer qualified to get. I have explained that another company offers the same service at such and such a price, and I will gladly switch unless they can continue to offer me the same rate. This has worked.
It’s also worth it to ask about being compensated for periods when your service was not what it should be. Was your internet out for a few days? Cell phone service glitches? If you simply ask “can I be compensated for the inconvenience in some way?” they will often offer you a discount for future bill cycles or a partial refund.
Recently I called the company I use to host my blog domain because the rate had drastically increased. The representative informed me that last year I was receiving special introductory pricing, then he asks me to hold. He makes a few “adjustments” and comes back to me with a significantly lower price. Literally all I did was tell him that I could not afford to pay what they were charging. Money saved: $50. Thank you Bluehost.
Check out my other post to learn how a phone call can also mean big savings on home and flood insurance.
Positive Feedback Can Also Be Rewarded
My brother-in-law emailed a company to say how much he loved a pair of shoes he owned for 6 years. He asked if they would assist him in buying another pair because he gave his away on a mission trip. They mailed him a $100 gift card!
So before you chalk it up to a loss, pick up the phone. You may be compensated beyond what you can imagine!