One of the tips that has helped me the most in my quest to make the most out of each dollar is calling companies. Corporations that sell us products almost always contain quality assurance departments; they enjoy hearing compliments from consumers, and they take to heart comments about unsatisfactory experiences so they can better improve their product. When you take the time to call or write, they will usually send you a coupon for a free product and some money-saving coupons on future purchases as well.
While calling to share a problem with a product may at times be necessary (finding bugs in oatmeal, for example), you don't have to complain. I've called Nestle with a question about melting butterscotch chips (it's different and takes longer than chocolate chips), and I received a free product coupon plus a neat little booklet all about the differences in various chocolates: how to store them, melt them, and use them. I called a laundry softener manufacturer with a question on how to prevent dryer sheets from leaving marks on clothing, and I received a free product coupon in return.
This doesn't always work, though. I called Pampers the other day because the lining in their new diapers just seemed defective--it stopped two-thirds of the way down and just didn't seem right to me. The representative was trying to tell me that's how it's supposed to be, and there is supposedly a thin liner in the back of the diaper. I didn't feel it, and to me, the diaper felt scratchy in the back. I know I wouldn't want to wear it! She wasn't willing to do anything more than assure me it wasn't defective, and I'm not willing to buy Pampers anymore if that's the way they are making them now (I've bought others that are not that way). The call was still profitable.
While a call to the company will usually result in a few dollars of savings, sometimes it will translate into hundreds of dollars of savings. When we received our tax return, I called the surgical center where my boys had some procedures done (we are still paying the bills). I asked the billing manager if they offer a discount if you are able to pay in full. She is checking with her manager for the final details, but she told me, the discount may be as much as 50% off the total bill! So glad I made that call!
My husband recently ordered a beautiful calf-skin Bible from Crossway books. Upon receiving it, the gold on the pages started flaking off. He knew this wasn't supposed to happen, so I encouraged him
to--you guessed it--call the company. The first representative wasn't willing to do anything about it. I encouraged him to try again (this is also where you could write a formal letter to the company, stating why you purchased the product, what you like about it, what is wrong with it, and what you would like them to do to correct the problem). The second representative not only sent him a replacement Bible, she also allowed him to keep his original!
Calling the company even resulted in my husband earning a new professional certification. After testing, he felt that a few of the questions could be interpreted (and answered) in two different ways. I told him he should call the company, because even if it didn't change his result, at least the company would be able to take a closer look at the questions. It could help other people down the road. He didn't want to do it, but he finally did. And guess what? The guy who writes the questions realized then that there were other correct answers, and he awarded my husband the certification, which brought with it a raise!
Some tips when you call:
- Be friendly. You want the customer service representative to connect with you and enjoy talking to you.
- If you had a negative experience with the product, start by sharing why you purchased the product to begin with--maybe you really love it, buy it all the time, and this time, unfortunately, you were disappointed because its quality was not the same.
- Explain specifically what you thought was wrong.
- At this point, they'll usually offer to send you a coupon for a replacement. If they don't, however, ask!
- If the customer service representative does not offer a coupon, you could ask politely if they could add you to their mailing list when coupons become available, since you enjoy the product so much (and enjoy saving money when you purchase it!)
Don't forget to join us for our once-a-month cooking festival tomorrow (not just bulk cooking but a celebration of all kinds of cooking!).
Visit Works for Me Wednesday for more tips!