AOL The other day, I bought a parka from the online retailer Sierra Trading Post. The site showed a list price of $179, but had it marked down to $95. As an added bonus, there was a 20 percent off coupon code that knocked the price down to $76. With $10 for shipping, my total came to $86. I felt like I’d gotten a pretty good deal.
Until the next day, that is. I went back to the site to take another look at my soon-to-arrive coat, and found to my dismay that the price had been lowered to $80. Even worse, a new code now appeared on the site offering 30 percent off. If I’d just waited one more day, I would have saved an extra $20.
So I brought up the site’s customer service chat feature, and immediately got to talking with a nice woman named Bridget. I explained my situation, and asked if I could have the new, lower price.
After quickly checking on my order, she came back with good news: “This will take just one moment to adjust this price.” My new total: $80, minus 30 percent, plus $10 for shipping, equaling $66. I’d saved $20 in less than five minutes, and I hadn’t even needed to pick up the phone.
As deal-hunters like to say, your mileage may vary. In my case, I was helped by the fact that my order hadn’t shipped yet; Bridget may have figured that if she didn’t offer me a price adjustment, I would just cancel my order before it shipped, and then re-order it at the new price.
Or maybe I’m wrong, and she would have processed the price adjustment even if it had already shipped. It’s hard to say, because as far as I can tell, Sierra Trading Post doesn’t seem to have a formal, public policy about post-purchase price adjustments. Most retailers don’t publicly state their policy on such matters. You just need to ask, and cross your fingers.
And that’s a good lesson for any transaction: You never know how much money you can save unless you ask. Amazon is known for giving post-purchase price adjustments to customers who don’t even ask, but it’s the exception, not the rule: If you want to get something extra, you need to be willing to ask for it.
And this doesn’t just apply to price adjustments. If you can’t find a free shipping code, for instance, you can use that online chat tool to ask if they’d be willing to throw in free shipping to close the deal. And when you’re in a store, you might be able to get an extra, unpublished discount if you’re willing to haggle your way up the managerial food chain.
If they can offer 20 percent-off, maybe they’ll be willing to offer 30 percent-off. If they’re willing to ship a $75 order for free, maybe they’d be willing to do the same for a $50 order. And if they were willing to offer a discount on Tuesday, maybe they’ll still be willing to offer it on Wednesday.
You never know if you don’t ask.