Saturday, November 7, 2009

If You Ask For Nothing, That's What You'll Get

This is the biggest lesson my dad ever taught me. He was a big believer in asking for anything he wanted. Sometimes, as a kid, it would embarrass me to be at the store and hear Dad saying things like, “Well, can’t you take 20% off these cabinets? I know you want to move these out and make room for the new ones to display.” And, they’d do it. Or, “If I buy all of these gas grills that you’ve got left, will you ship them to my house for free?” And you know what? They do it! Even when I shopped for my wedding dress, My dad got the dress shop to throw in the alterations for free, because he offered to pay the bill in cash. And, because HE ASKED.

I think a lot of people underestimate the power of just asking. You can get lower rates on credit cards, you can get better plans for cable TV, you can get free shipping, all kinds of stuff is negotiable! Stuff you’d never imagine that would be negotiable! And, this doesn’t just apply to places like car dealerships. You can make deals at any retail store by simply talking to a manager. Quite often, they have the power to reduce prices or throw in free incentives on anything they sell. I have learned that a few moments of feeling uncomfortable and pushy usually pays off big time. Sure, some times I’m told “no”, but then I’m no worse off than if I’d never asked at all, right? This is a really powerful tool for my family, since we have 6, almost 7, people. When we have to buy lots of things, the costs add up. Even getting a break of 10% is something, right?

My sister has told me, for years, that I got everything I ever asked for when I was a kid. I don’t remember it that way (ah, the elusive Sit ‘N Spin and the unattainable Easy Bake Oven) but I do remember asking for some big things that I did actually get. Like, going to private high school. New furniture for my 16th birthday. And, studying abroad in Ireland for a semester in college. Knowing my sister, she probably wanted all the same things but was too timid to ask. I think maybe I got a healthy dose of my dad’s chutzpah in the genes. Maybe I was just obnoxious and thought I could get what I wanted because I was the baby of the family. I don’t know. Either way, I know I had self-control over what I asked for – never shooting for the moon – but I also recognized that asking quietly, at the right time of day, and waiting patiently for an answer, usually paid off.

So, today I enjoyed checking my email, then I had to go to my weekly doctor’s appointment. When I came home, I noticed that I couldn’t connect to the internet. My modem’s power was down. “That’s weird,” I thought. After all, Texan Papa had not moved a muscle since I’d left him sleeping in bed 3 hours earlier. And, I noticed, the power had not gone off. Finally, I checked the surge protector, but all the other things plugged into the surge protector were working just fine.

So I called AT&T. We bought our modem from them when we set up phone service last year. They said, “Oh, I am so sorry that your modem is out of warranty now.” (Yeah, right. Like you really care.) “But we would be happy to sell you a new modem. I can connect you with the sales department.” To which I responded, “Now why would I want that? Probably the next modem you sell me will crap out right after the warranty expires too!” Then I added, “Can you give me a new one at a pro-rated amount if I send back my old one?” The operator connected me with the sales department and… They offered me a brand new wireless modem. For free. All I have to pay is the shipping charges which are a measly $13. I couldn’t BUY a new wireless modem that cheap. As for now, I’m typing this post on MS Word on Thursday afternoon, and I’m going to run up to the library tonight so I can copy it into my blog and schedule it to post later.

So, see? If I’d accepted their crappy offer to just pony up $100 for a new modem plus shipping charges from them, I’d be fuming. Or, if I’d decided to buy one from a store, I’d be scouring ads and comparing prices and driving all over town.

But now? I’m going to have my new modem delivered to me on Monday. All because I asked.


Jennifer said...

My Dad's theory was that there was always room to negotiate. I wish I had inherited that gene.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

That is my husband's theory--- 'everything is negotiable' but then he negotiates for people's homes on a daily basis so he enjoys it ;)
Congrats on the modem!

Foursons said...

Awesome! I need to remember this next time I need something. :)

Bridgett said...

I need to remember this when it comes to things like girl scouts. If I never ask the moms to carpool or chaperone or bring snack, I can't really be upset when they don't. And often they really want to help...sigh.

Michelle said...


P.S. congrats on winning the Flip camera. I am jealous!

Small Town Mommy said...

Congrats on the modem. I wish I was better at negotiation.

A Lil Enchanted said...

Awesome! It never hurts to ask... you're no worse off and they surely can't slap you or kill you for it. Enjoy your new modem :)

A Lil Enchanted,

Karen said...

Well, good for you for asking! You probably save a ton of money whereas I am too chicken to even ask!