Instead of mumbling, “What a rip off” to yourself as you walk out of a place of business, tell the business owner or manager what has you steamed. Companies who deserve your business will listen. Here are three positive experiences, and one negative, I had.
Get an estimate in advance
Recently, I took my road bike to our local bike shop for repair. I explained the difficulty I was having (omitting the fact that I couldn’t keep up with my riding group because I haven’t been riding as often as I should) and asked for an estimated cost to repair it. He looked the bike over, guessed at the problem and suggested I go ahead and get the full service package for $75. I explained that we’d recently done that and didn’t see the need again so soon. After thorough questioning (my husband says I should have been a lawyer) the repairman gave me an estimate of $26 for the repair. As we parted, I added that I am on a budget and like to anticipate expenses before I commit to them. If the repair was to cost too much I were going to see if I could try to fix it myself.
When the shop called the next day to say the bike was ready, I asked for the total bill. She said $70. I told her that was twice the estimate. She put me on with the store owner and I explained the situation and named the person with whom I had spoken the previous day. The owner cut the bill back down to the original estimate. — Savings: $44
Hold companies to their promises
The next morning I took my husband’s car for a pre-arranged oil change appointment. I arrived 10 minutes early. I had to get to a meeting an hour and a half later but was assured by the two people that I asked as that this would take 45 minutes. After waiting an hour, I asked the woman at the desk if I could use the phone to call my meeting to let them know I’d be late. I also asked if she could check on my car to let me know how much longer it would take. I told her the man’s name with whom I’d signed in, that he told me it’d take 45 minutes and within five minutes he walked me to my car and said, “I’m so sorry for the inconvenience, they’ll be no charge.” — Savings: $27
Tell the truth when asked, “How was it?”
(though maybe not always in the bedroom): Last night I stayed at a hotel in Charleston, SC where I am for writing conference. I noticed after I’d already settled in and showered that the carpet by the door was wet and that the ceiling was peppered with mold. I have allergies but was too lazy to ask to change rooms since I had already spread my papers from one end to the other. When I checked out this morning the woman at the desk asked how I enjoyed my stay.
“Well, the carpet by the door is wet and the ceiling is covered in mold,” I answered.
“The AC must be leaking again,” she sighed as she typed something into the computer. We commiserated about the humidity – required conversation here in South Carolina – and I stepped to the side to fix my free coffee.
When she turned the receipt around to me she said, “I’ve adjusted the bill. Here is the rate that was charged on your card.” — Savings: $25 off of a $63 room rate
In all of these instances, I was polite and simply told them about the problem. Having worked in sales and service, I know that most businesses want to know when you are displeased and they will appreciate your honesty.
If they don’t care, don’t go back. My husband and I went to a restaurant once and my hamburger was so dry I wanted to dip it into my glass of water like raccoons do with their food. The manager made his rounds of the tables and asked us how everything was. I told him the truth and he took no responsibility, made absolutely no attempt to address the situation and basically wished me luck choking it down. We don’t eat there any more. And even though this manager failed to make us happy customers, I felt better for having told him the truth.
When you are unhappy, explain the problem and see what good comes of it. At the very least, you will have gotten the issue off your chest. So the next time you get a non-angelic hair in your angel hair pasta speak up and save a buck!
Image courtesy of deadwildcat.