Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Discount

About a week ago we decided to get a standalone dehumidifier for our house. We live in the uber-humid south, and when fall rolls around the humidity inside the house starts rising since we’re halfway between the A/C and heating seasons. Since I had a limited amount of time and wanted to get the dehumidifier right away, I poked around on the Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears websites.

I found a 50 pint/day Whirlpool dehumidifer that fit our needs for a decent price at Lowes, and I was able to “verify” that it was in stock. I put that in quotes because, as I later learned, there’s a big difference between their inventory system and reality… When I showed up in the store, they didn’t have one on hand. Sure enough, their computer said that they had them, but there were none to be found anywhere.

Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed… After all, I had double-checked that it was in stock before driving over there. The clerk offered to check the other store (about ten miles away) for availability, but I didn’t feel like driving across town. So I asked for a discount on the next higher model (70 pints/day) instead. Without so much as blinking an eye, the guy said he could knock off 10%, but that was really all he could do. After ringing it up in my head and realizing that the 10% discount brought the price down (more or less) to the level of the lesser model that I was after in the first place, I tossed on in my cart and went on my merry way.

A couple of things… First, I actually debated the 70 pint/day model at home before settling on the 50 pint/day model, so I was perfectly happy to take the ‘better’ version for the lower price. Second, while the ‘better’ model uses a bit more electricity when it’s running, it pulls water out of the air more quickly (hence the higher daily capacity). Thus, it ends up running for less time each day — this makes it more or less a dead heat in terms of electrical usage.

Oh, and I paid for it with my AmEx which effectively doubled the one year warranty thanks to their Buyer’s Assurance program.

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on a substitute if a store doesn’t have what you’re looking for. Many stores already do this as a matter of policy when dealing with sale items. But even if it’s not on sale, a sympathetic clerk will often throw you a bone if they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for.

9 Responses to “Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Discount”

  1. Anonymous

    Asking for the discount is not tacky. How you ask for the discount could be tacky and rude. If, in the case of the humidifier, you are able to have some reason to ask, it is especially permittable. Additionally, the worst someone can do is simply deny you the discount, and then you are left with a choice. Free markets are all about an agreement. Nearly everything is negotiable, and it doesn’t have to feel like a car dealership.
    And let’s be realistic. The money saved via a discount isn’t going into the savings account of Americans. As the trends bear out, we are more likely to spend that savings, therefore not hurting the over-all health of the economy.

  2. Anonymous

    Don’t ask for discounts it’s just tacky and rude. If you are known as the ” discount” person you will get worse service, because your not proftiable. Being cheap ruins the economy every “lttle” discount builds up and forces companies to downsize and in turn raise prices to compensate for discounts. Take a basic economics class and you will easily see how asking for discounts hurt america.

  3. Anonymous

    I know it never hurts to ask, but I hate to. I also hate the dickering at flea markets, garage sales or any place for that matter. Got to get over it! Good advice.

  4. Anonymous

    The last time I asked for a discount was to Comcast and they told me to spank myself (paraphrase).

    When I first ran a dehumidifier in my basement, it only took mere hours to fill the tank. Gross.

  5. Anonymous

    I bought my dehumidifier at costco. I try to purchase everything there due to their incredible return policy. Frankly I wouldn’t mind paying a 10% premium in exchange for an honest return policy.
    I’ve had an OK experience returning things at Lowes, however, they are stickier. Fortunately a friend of friend worked there and expedited things – what would have happened if I didn’t have that connection?
    BTW, when shopping for a dehumidifier, look for the ability to connect the machine’s dump bucket to a garden hose. If you have a sump pump or nearby sink, you can eliminate the need to dump the dehumidifier on a daily basis.
    stay dry,

  6. Dooley: I regularly use the 10% coupons, but in this case I didn’t have one and needed to make a purchase. I also typically save them for larger purchases (like our lawn tractor earlier this summer). Something to keep in mind is that had I had a coupon on me, I could have whipped it out at the register and tried to apply it on top of the 10% that the clerk gave me. That is was a smart shopper would do.

  7. Anonymous

    I never shop at lowes for less than 10% off. I have about 10 ten percent off coupons gathered from various places (direct from lowes, mailings, even my bofa statement had one). So what they did is basically give you the discount any smart shopper would’ve already been using.

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