Ten Ways to Ask for a Lower Price or a Better Deal

March 12, 2007

Have you ever been quoted a base price then blindsided with additional fees? Just the other day, I was shipping some recent eBay sales at the UPS store and they charged me a $4.50 “Rural Surcharge Fee” on a package whose base shipping price was $9.

I’ve seen this fee pop up before on shipments costing $15 or $20 but this was too much. The fees raised the cost of shipping by 50% so I brought it up with the guy and he ended up waiving the fee for me. This experience reminded me that sometimes all you have to do to get a better price is ask. Here are ten different ways to go about it.

Be Diplomatic
“I know your policy says you have to charge everyone this fee but I do all my business here because I like the service you provide and even refer my friends to you. Wouldn’t it make sense to waive the fee for a valuable customer like me?”

Loose Your Cool
Throw your receipt and pen in the air, kick a box or smack the counter, and yell, “I can’t take all these extra fees anymore! Give the base price or I’m walking away! Well, what do you say?!”

Mention the Competition
“Wow, that’s a lot more than FedEx. I guess I’ll be going there next time unless you guys can give me a better deal.”

Make it Personal
Scowl at the salesperson. “Every time I come in here, you charge me this extra fee. I don’t see you making anyone else pay it!”

Question Blitzkrieg
Overwhelm them with questions. “What’s the fee for? How far do you have to live from city limits for it to kick in? How much do you charge per mile? Is it charged in all cities? How come it wasn’t on the shipping calculator? How often will I have to pay this? Does FedEx charge this fee? Is this a new policy?” Fire away until they’re flustered then demand a better deal.

Broke as a Joke
“Uh oh. I didn’t know anything about this fee. I didn’t bring enough to pay this extra amount and I have to get this shipped out today. Can’t you waive the fee for me?”

Be Flirtatious
Obviously this won’t work for everyone but if you’ve got charm, now’s the time to turn it on. Work your magic to drop the price or waive the fee.

Promise Future Business
“My company mails 30 packages a week and I’m looking for a new shipping company. Low shipping costs are vital to my business. I’d like to start bringing all of my packages here if we could work something out about these prices.”

Best Buds
Treat the salesperson like your best friend. Make them like you and they’ll feel bad not getting you the lowest price. This one is pre-emptive, be nice from the second you walk into the store or they’ll smell a phony.

Simply Ask for a Better Deal
They’re in business to make money and won’t give you a lower price unless you ask. Ask them straight up, “What can I do to get a lower price?” I saved this one for last because some variation of this question should be used as a closer no matter which tactic you choose. You can’t get a better deal if you don’t ask.

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Ben

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Ben
Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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21 Responses to Ten Ways to Ask for a Lower Price or a Better Deal

  • Mike

    Your last tip may be the best. I read that only 1 in 8 shoppers are “brave” enough to ask for a discount and out of the ones that do half of them will get it!

  • Greg

    Once upon a time air travel was a great deal simpler than it is today. You called one of a few airlines that flew from your airport, the agent would tell you what flights were available for a given time, and you booked the one you wanted. Airports were always bustling places, especially during the holidays, but as long as you gave yourself adequate time, the process was usually the same. You would check your bags, go through the x-ray machine, get your boarding pass, and wait patiently at the appropriate gate. Once you got on the plane you ate the snack or meal that came with your flight and watched a movie.

    In recent years travel by plane has become significantly more complicated. There are so many different configurations for flights and types of fares. Dire economic circumstances have caused airlines to raise rates and charge extra fees for everything from baggage to blankets. There are complex rules about what you can and cannot carry in your luggage. It can be very difficult to determine whether you are getting the best deal or the best services when you buy an airline ticket. The internet makes the navigation of airlines, airports, and flight itineraries easier, but, even so, be prepared to do some research if you want to find a flight at the best price.

    Here is something up front that might save you time and money right off the bat. If you are traveling within the United States mainland, always look at Southwest Airlines first. Southwest is almost always the best deal you will find. However, Southwest itineraries do not appear on the major travel websites, so always go directly to the airline’s website for information. Plug in your travel plans, and you will get a list of all the flights that are available. Southwest typically charges more reasonable prices than other airlines, and there are no hidden fees. The price you see is the price you get although tax and the government fee that is attached to all flights does apply. For lower prices than you can probably get anywhere else look at the “web only” fares, but keep in mind that these fares are not refundable.

  • Ben

    @RunningNurse, I see your point. The main thing to remember is that tactics will have different levels of effectiveness based on what it is you’re buying. So here’s a question for you.

    What is the best way for someone to negotiate a better deal on cosmetic surgery? I’m sure it’s not cheap and if customers are paying out of pocket they could probably use a few tips on how to save some money.

  • TheRunningNurse

    This is the worst article of all time. I work in cosmetic surgery (ie, patients pay out of pocket. If a patient were to come into our office and “SCOWL” at one of our employees or the “Question Blitzkreig”, they would NOT get a discount and would pay full price. This is seen in our business as a “problem patient” which is usually the type of patient that is quickest to get an attorney if there is a complication. The same would go for a patient who would “lose their cool” and throw down a pen or another object. Like is too short to deal with such poor behavior and it isn’t fair to our other patients to be subjected to such rudeness.

    Comparative shopping is fine, but as I tell our patients, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. They are having SURGERY and not buying a used car.

  • lodonnabhair

    As a retail clerk myself, I can tell you that yelling at a clerk, making things personal, and pitching fits are a sure-fire way to ensure that you DO NOT get any discounts or breaks. We’re more willing to do whatever we can for nice, friendly people (within reason – if it can get us fired, it doesn’t matter how nice you are), whereas those who treat us poorly get nothing, or worse, get additional fees tacked on.

  • bill

    I think the best way is to be diplomatic and keeping your cool along with being persistent to get what you want. If you start spouting off and insult the clerk, they will digg their heels in and be less cooperative.

  • Super Saver

    Ben,

    I use #10 for all of my major purchases. Just asking works over 90% of the time nowadays.

  • Blaine Moore (First Time Home Owner)

    It is not the business classification that garners the fee, it is whether the destination is a business or a residence. It costs UPS more to deliver to a person’s home because they are less likely to be there to sign for a package during business hours and they need to return up to 3 times and/or process the package at their building an extra time or 4. A business is likely to be open and have somebody to sign for a package and will need only one delivery attempt. That is where the charge comes from.

  • Ben

    Blaine, I agree $4.50 is pretty hefty and you’re right, the way I got him to waive the fee was by classifying the package as “business” mail, that made a difference for some reason.

    JP, I probably could have written this one up a little differently. Maybe it wouldn’t work, who knows, I’ll have to try it and see.

  • JP

    Make it Personal
    Scowl at the salesperson. “Every time I come in here, you charge me this extra fee. I don’t see you making anyone else pay it!”

    You can’t be serious.

  • Blaine Moore (First Time Home Owner)

    $4.50 for a residential surcharge? Wow! My company just started passing residential surcharges onto our customers, but UPS only charges us $1.85. Despite the vast majority of our shipments going to business addresses (due to the products we sell) we still have historically taken about a $36,000/year hit on the residential surcharges. Passing it on to the customers that it applies to keeps the majority of our customers from having to supplement the costs.

    That being said, any time that a customer asks us to we will waive the fee, especially for the next few months as we only changed our shipping policies this year. For the most part, people don’t mind the extra fee as long as they understand that we don’t make any money on it. Maybe they are used to paying almost $5 for residential surcharges so they think they are getting a deal or something!

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