Frugal Hack #18: Call Customer Service and Haggle a Deal

December 17, 2013 by Kyle
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In case you missed it, I was featured in The New York Times yesterday!

The story I was interviewed for is titled More Retailers See Haggling as a Price of Doing Business and it documents the idea of never accepting the price listed at retail stores. The story was actually on the front page of the print edition. Crazy, huh? A dude working in his pajamas from a home office makes the front page of the NY Times. Gotta love this country!

So today I wanted to continue with the topic of haggling for a better price. If you are an old friend to Rather-Be-Shopping.com you already know how to use Live Chat to score an online coupon as well as using stores price matching policies to your advantage when asking for a better price.

Believe it or not, I have yet another way to haggle for a better price with online stores that you probably NEVER considered. Here is the skinny behind this Frugal Hack:

Call Customer Service and Haggle

Real life example: The next time you are shopping at Kohl’s.com and find that perfect KitchenAid Stand Mixer to bake all your Christmas cookies, don’t just accept the online price given to you.

Always do some research yo! Within seconds you can find it at Amazon.com for only $323.26, over $25 less than what Kohl’s is selling it for. At this point just call the Kohl’s customer service number, tell them you’re a loyal customer, and politely ask if they’ll match the Amazon.com price.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the willingness of many retailers to price match items directly over the phone. After all, they know you have the items in your virtual shopping cart and you are just 1-click away from finalizing your transaction.

They don’t want to lose your business at that point.  If the customer service rep refuses to match the price at the very least ask if they’ll knock off the shipping charges.

Instead of Haggling, Why Not Just Buy From the Cheapest Online Retailer?

Good question. Why wouldn’t I just buy the KitchenAid mixer from Amazon.com? Many consumers, perhaps you as well, are members of certain online retailer reward programs and get cash back and reward points on purchases.

So it makes sense to try and buy from only them so you can collect your member reward points. For example, members of Kohl’s reward program get $5 back on every $100 they spend.

So it makes total sense to call the Kohl’s customer service line and ask them politely if they’ll price match online prices from their competition.

Also, make sure to add a Kohl’s coupon code to your online order to get even more savings.

Speaking of coupons, some online stores may have better coupons available making them the store you want to buy from. You got nothing to lose and bundles of cash to potentially save by only spending a few minutes on the phone.

When This Frugal Hack Won’t Work

Like most unique ways to save money this hack won’t work with every store and every situation. Here are some caveats to be aware of:

  1. Most, if not all major retailers, will not honor coupon codes from online competitors. So you won’t be able to call up Best Buy.com and say, “Hey, I just a coupon code from NewEgg.com in my email for 10% off all digital cameras. Can you honor their coupon code?”
  2. Walmart, the biggest retailer in the world, has a written policy that they will not match Internet pricing.
  3. Macy’s won’t match online pricing but they have been known to offer consumers free shipping if you call customer service and try to negotiate.

Ask the Reader: Would you consider spending 5 minutes calling customer service to haggle for a better price? Maybe you have already done this. If so, were you successful in getting the price lowered?


By Kyle James

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Holly@ClubThriftyStefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful LifeKyleAndrew@LivingRichCheaplykK @ Student Debt Survivor Recent comment authors

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Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

I honestly didn’t know that haggling online was an option! I’d totally spend five minutes to save a few bucks.

DC @ Young Adult Money

It really depends on what I’m buying. I hate talking on the phone so I will usually avoid it. If there is a customer chat I usually will see what they can do for me, though. I did call xfinity to cancel my cable/internet and got it lowered by $50, so I guess it’s worth it sometimes?

kK @ Student Debt Survivor

Way to go on the NY Times Mention. That’s pretty sweet. I hope you’re getting lots of traffic from the article.

I’ve had good luck price matching with Nordstrom. You just send them a link the site where the other deal is and they’ll decide if they can match it or not.

Andrew@LivingRichCheaply

Wow I didn’t know your article was featured on the NY Times, pretty cool…congrats! I read it on Yahoo. I’d definitely haggle to get a better deal…doesn’t hurt to try. I’ve usually only haggled at smaller shops…didn’t think you could do it at big box stores but they’ve been advertising their price matching policies recently to combat showrooming I guess. And I definitely didn’t think to call customer service to get a better price from the online one.

Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

Congrats on your feature, that’s awesome! As for calling customer service, I do it all the time, but if I can get it online cheaper, I’ll probably just opt for that rather than dealing with the headache of an automated customer service process and waiting to talk to a human being.

Holly@ClubThrifty

Great job on the NYT piece. Winning!

 
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