If you don’t ask, you don’t get

By Mir
June 10, 2006
Category Quick Tips

Haggling—it’s not just for flea markets.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on an item at a regular store, even if it’s already on sale. (In fact, I’d argue that’s the best time, and you’ll see why in a second.) Your typical department store expects to lose a certain percentage of inventory to damage. When a shirt loses a button or a box gets smushed, the item is put on clearance. Either it sells or is eventually sent to salvage.

Don’t be a jerk about it, and don’t act all affronted or entitled. Just ask. If you’ve found something that’s the last of its kind (this doesn’t work if there are more, because the manager will just tell you to get another if it bothers you) and is dirty or dinged, take it to customer service and ask for a discount. I find that “Hi, I’d like to buy this, but I was wondering if you could mark it down a little more because of the [insert flaw here]?” works almost all the time, with a savings of at least 10% (and once as much as 50%). I’ve done it at Goodwill and I’ve done it at Macy’s.

Any small embarrassment you might feel would likely be assuaged by the resultant lower pricetag. I do recommend holding off on the victory dance until you’re out of the store, though.


  1. I’ll ask if you get me drunk first and hold my hand while I ask.

  2. Absolutely, 100%, totally agree. I work retail and we will GLADLY give you 10% off if you take home a shirt that’s missing a button, just to get it out of the store (and off our inventory list).

    Try it, you’ll like it!

  3. I absolutely hate doing that, but it works. Recently I got a sweater very cheaply from the gap because it had a mark on it. I could either have it more expensively and they would take it back if I couldn’t get it out or I could have it cheaply and not be able to return it if I didn’t get it out. I took it cheap and got out the spot.

  4. Just please be respectful if the salesperson says they can’t discount something. Like Irony Queen, I work in retail, and yes, there’s some things I can discount (if it’s banged up? Absolutely. Please take it off my hands!!), but there’s other things I really just can’t do, no matter how you ask. And my manager is going to tell you the same thing I am. So if someone says they can’t, please respect that and don’t get in their face about it. Remember, they have a very hard and rather thankless job, and they don’t always get a whole lot of respect. I can tell you that while I *always* give *every* customer my best, I’m a lot happier to go the extra mile for customers who treat me as though I’m a fellow human being and worthy of as much respect as they are. Being pleasant and polite will just about always equal better service!

  5. Well put, uhhh, Turtle (can I call you Turtle??).

  6. we ask for discounts all the time. if anything has the SMALLEST flaw we ask for money off. sometimes they say yes, sometimes no. no harm asking. we got a discount on an already really discounted piece of gorgeous furniture a while back. the piece looks awesome but we got 15% off on top of the 50% mark down. on a thousand dollar item, that’s a lot of dough.

  7. The same goes for online retailers for sure. Through Cool Mom Picks, (shameless plug) I’ve learned people are more than happy to give a small discount or comp shipping if you’re ordering more than an item or two.

  8. My hubby does it all the time. I was with him when he asked a manager for a deal on an optical mouse. D is nice and polite, and teh mgr knocked 10% off.

    It never hurts to ask.

    Unless maybe you are buying a Snickers bar.

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