Magic words for better deals
Say 'birthday' or 'honeymoon' and the deals come rushing in.
When it comes to discounts, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses are often willing to give you a discount or special service if you mention that you’re celebrating a special occasion that ties into your visit, says Steven Cohen, president of The Negotiation Skills Company, a consultancy based in Massachusetts that helps clients negotiate for better deals. “It’s not unreasonable to say to someone, ‘It’s my birthday, anniversary, what-have-you -- are there any extra deals you can offer me?’” he says.
Businesses have an interest in saying yes: It helps keep regular customers loyal year-round, says Dan Butler, vice president of retail operations for the National Retail Federation. Plus, a good experience may sway where they spend their money and celebrate on future occasions.
Some businesses routinely offer birthday and special-occasion deals; others may be willing to negotiate on the spot. You’ll have better luck if the purchase coincides with the event, Cohen says, i.e., “I just got a new job!” when purchasing a suit, “We’re planning our honeymoon” when booking a cruise, or “I just adopted a puppy” when loading up on pet supplies. Worst-case scenario, the salesperson offers congratulations but no discount.
I successfully used this tactic last week when redeeming various birthday discounts. Most notably, an Old Navy cashier stuck to the one-coupon-per-transaction policy when I tried to use a 30%-off coupon and my birthday coupon for $10 off a purchase of $50 or more. I asked him if he would accept both as a “gift to me.” He agreed to ask the manager, and voilá -- dual discounts.
We’re featuring valuable coupons and sales each Friday to help you spend less on the items you buy. Found a deal we missed -- or looking for a better price on a specific item? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a tweet @kellibgrant.
Spa Week. The pampering industry tries to drum up business with periodic “spa weeks” throughout the year. An upcoming one is Spa Week Media Group’s Spa Week. If you sign up for a massage, facial, pedicure or other service April 12-18, the fee will be $50 apiece. Don’t get your hopes too high -- participating spas have been booking the appointments since March 15 -- so openings may be limited, if a service hasn’t already sold out. One spot that is still booking is The Red Door Spa in Baltimore. With the promotion, you will get a 29% discount on their $70 pedicure. Some participating spas are also accepting gift cards for the discounted services. Check to see if you can get one for less than face value to further improve the deal.
GameStop. Selection is limited, but the chain’s annual Game Days Sale attracts consumers looking for discounts of up to 50%, both online and in stores. “Assassin’s Creed II,” which was released last November, will be $30, down from $60. “World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack” will be marked down by a third, to $20. If you use code GD10 at online checkout, you can save another 10%; code VALUE will result in free shipping on orders of $25 or more (a $5 value). Weigh which is the better deal -- you can use only one code per order.
Pottery Barn. The trick to taking advantage of the retailer’s current sale -- of up to 60% off -- is the shipping costs. Some items ship free, but most are subject to shipping charges. Those start at $5, but escalate to 10% of your order total if you spend $200 or more, and 15% of the total for orders of $3,000 or more. A $700 Bailey Console Table (marked down from $800), for example, would cost you $70 to ship. Another caveat: Items with prices ending in 99 cents are final sale and cannot be returned or exchanged.
- Bing: Find outlet mall coupons
Kate Spade. Through April 4, this fashion retailer is offering discounts on “select” purses, shoes, jewelry, and clothing, the operative word being “select.” Once you put the item in your shopping cart, you get an extra 25% off and free shipping. The code DONTFRET will take another 20% off orders of $50 or more. For example, a Boulevard Shopper Michaela handbag, originally $375, is on sale for $263. Once in your cart, it drops to $210.40, and then $157.80 with the coupon code (a 25% discount instead of the promised 20%). Altogether, that's a 58% savings. Anything with a discount of 50% or more before you add to your cart is considered a final sale item (no returns or exchanges), so shop carefully.
Related reading at SmartMoney:
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Those shackled with student loan debt are increasingly being targeted by scams and shady companies promising relief.