Personal Finance, Saving Money

How My Big Mouth Saves Me Money

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.

8 thoughts on “How My Big Mouth Saves Me Money

  1. Meredith, good advice and a being honest about bad service is generally good rule of thumb.

    But you really need to look into a new oil change shop. When we got our new 4Runner, I stared looking for something better than the standard oil change experience.

    In my neck of the woods, we have an Oil Can Henrys which has always given us fast service **and you remain in your car during the oil change.** They also have cameras facing the engine and the bellie of the car, so you can watch them work.

    The employees at our local OCH are both friendly and fast. They wear uniforms that were common in the early 1900s and their attitude/demeanor is very polite an respectful.

    The service on our vehicle is around $35, so it’s not bottom of the line. But the price is worth the quick, respectful service combined with the comfort of remaining in my vehicle and the knowledge that they’re actually working.

    One last note. It is easy to estimate how long the oil change will take because you drive your vehicle into the shop. If there is a long line for serving, it’ll be obvious unlike the oil change shops where you have to park and hand over your keys.

  2. “In all of these instances, I was polite and simply told them about the problem.”

    I think that’s the key! I’ve found that presenting the problem respectfully and politely usually gets a much better response than a grumbling and demanding attitude.

    After all, the problem is rarely the fault of the person you’re complaining to, so he (or she) really doesn’t deserve the abuse.

  3. Right on. I’ve have several incidents where me speaking up has saved me lots of money. I had a credit card that posted a late fee before they posted my payment in full to the card. I called them, explained what was going on and not only did I get the fee waived, they waived the interest and I talked them into lowering my APR by 18%! I don’t mind speaking up – like the guy said, start off being pleasant and ask for a supervisor if you can’t get the initial person to assist you.

  4. My girlfriend just did something similar the other night. She was upset with how much she was paying for her cell phone service, so she gave them a call and threatened to cancel. They gave her 40% more minutes AND dropped her price 30%. She did have to sign a new two year agreement, but she was planning on doing so anyway.

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