Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Asking For It!

I believe in getting your money's worth. You worked hard for that $$, so why not spend it on a product that's worth it?

What if you purchase something, though, and it's not worth it? Like Husband's Christmas gift of a cable sweater from Kohl's that developed a rip in the seam after only three wearings? Or a bag of Doritos with several clumps of fused chips?

Ask for your money back. 

A calm letter or phone call is all it takes -- state what you got, when you got it, what the problem was. Emphasize that you know you're talking to a company who "stands behind its customers." (I use this phrase over and over.) Emphasize that this must have been an unfortunate oversight. Say you'd like your money back -- or be "compensated."

In the case of food items, you'll usually be offered replacement coupons -- and often more than one. If the company's big (and many are), you'll even be able to get something else from their product line. I turned a phone call about a Banquet TV dinner into two large boxes of fried chicken this way! I will also keep these coupons, then use them during BOGO specials or other sales, as well.

My letters/complaints started as a poor college student, when I got a nasty package of 'imitation' cheese, and wrote a letter about all the things it could be used for -- soap, doorstop, display stand, etc. A whole case of real cheese was the result!
     Since then, we've gotten reimbursed for weird cookies, nasty frozen entrees and even travel expenses...all because I took ten or fifteen minutes to call or write a short note. (E-mails are even quicker.)

I hadn't thought much about chronicling my totals for doing this.  For 2009, though, One Frugal Girl kept track of her complaints. Combined with "get this free" send-ins, referrals and other small actions, she earned nearly $5,000 this past year! I also remember a MONEY profile about a girl who took complaining to a high art -- she was a natural griper, and did it about everything from complaining about the weather on ski vacations (and asking for her money back from the resort) to griping about her McDonald's sandwich. She said she'd earned more $10,000 in "complaining income!"

Not everything is perfect, and you shouldn't expect it to be. If it's "ok," that's good enough for most things. There is a limit. Some of the MONEY profiler's complaints were valid -- but blaming the resort for the weather?!?

But standing up for yourself will produce several results -- for one, you'll feel less like a patsy when you bite into a stale doughnut, endure a nasty waitress, or get browbeaten by a snotty clerk. For another, you'll be getting better quality for your family's money. Finally, many companies want to know what their customers think -- you'll be (hopefully) contributing to a better product in the long run.

So don't hesitate -- speak up.

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