If you don’t ask, you don’t get…

If you don’t ask, you don’t get…

It’s been a great week for saving money in the Frugalitude household:

  • A refund of almost $50 for a credit card late fee and interest

  • A $15 library fine reversed

  • Free expedited shipping on top of an existing 25% discount

  • An additional $700 savings on our tax return

What do these things all have in common? Very simply: we asked…nicely.

In the case of the credit card fees I politely explained why the payment was late and, since I usually pay on time, they refunded me the fee and interest.

For the library fine, I calmly explained that how I did not damage the book and requested that the fine be removed.

I was trying to replace my Fitbit and even though they offered me a 25% discount on a new model, I asked if there was anything extra that they could offer, and they expedited the shipment for me.

And with the tax return, although we’re not tax experts, we didn’t think that it seemed right so Mr. Frugalitude simply asked the accountant to explain and check up on a few things and he found that he had made a mistake on one part of the form so we went from owing $1,500 to getting a $700 refund.

I am constantly amazed that the simple act of actually asking for something, often results in a positive result.

I also see this frequently in mediation. I am a volunteer mediator in our local court and many of the small claims mediations I’m part of are with debt collectors. I’ve lost count of how many times the debtor has entered the room, worried about how they would be able to repay their debt because of issues like unemployment or other debts. Then soon after, left with a repayment plan that they could afford so that they didn’t have to go to court and didn’t get a judgement that could impact their future credit. Why does mediation often result in such a positive outcome? Because the debt collector and the debtor get a chance to talk: the debtor can explain their issues and ask the debt collector for a solution that works for both of them.

So, when you do have an issue – whether it’s late fees or an unpaid debt or a defective product, etc. – my advice is to simply reach out and ask what can be done.

If you’re new to asking, here’s what I do when I reach out for help with an issue. If you have other tips and techniques, please share in the comments below – I’d love to hear what works for you!

  • I first work out what I will say before I make the call / start the chat / approach the person who can help me. This includes detailing what my problem is, and also thinking about what resolution I would like to see.

  • When I’ve contacted the right person, I try to explain my issue as calmly and clearly as possible, and also let them know what would make me happy.

  • I try to remain polite – reminding myself that the person I’m talking to probably didn’t make the rules, they just have the “fun” job of implementing them!

  • I have also found that empathizing with the other person can be very effective as I want us to be allies not enemies. As Daniel Pink says in A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future: “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes.” I tell them that I understand that my problem is not their fault or let them know that I appreciate that they are helping me, despite dealing with so many other frustrated or unhappy customers.

  • It’s also important to be patient. The person helping you may need to check records, talk to a supervisor, look up policies and procedures to make sure you get the service you need. If you are chatting with an agent online, it’s entirely possible they are juggling multiple chats at the same time!

  • Plus, being grateful is also crucial – whether it’s letting them know how their assistance will make a difference or just saying thanks when they’re done. We all love to be appreciated, so share that love!

Remember: if you don’t ask, you won’t get what you need so don’t be afraid to go for it…what’s the worst that could happen? They may say no, but you may also be surprised by how much you can achieve!

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