Ask. Ask. Ask.
That's the frugal mantra. If you need something, ask around. An acquaintance may have what you're looking for. If you have a problem with a store or the like, ask. You may get what you want. Or a rain check. Amy D. of Tightwad Gazette fame has a chapter on it. My frugal Dad always asked. This practice generally has a good time to savings ratio, at least in my experience.
Plus good customer service usually makes you a customer for life. When I sold things now and again on Ebay (a LOONNNGGGG time ago), I responded to the slightest complaint with a full refund. And, given the low volume of my sales, I wasn't expecting any return customers. It just wasn't worth setting into motion the bad customer service karma.
Places where I've had good customer service: Walgreens (managers often compensate for flaky employees), Belk (on my single purchase), LL Bean (shouldn't be a surprise).
So today, I decided to put my customer service chops to the test. This was inspired by a post on Ann Taylor at Une Femme d'un Certain Age (see blogroll to the right), which featured a very nice scarf. One commenter noted that the website didn't specify the fabric blend, so i decided to call the 800 # and ask. And I could not get through. And I tried twice. ByeBye Ann Taylor. Fix your phone system. There was no way to get an operator.
Then, I tried Garnet Hill. Miss Em and I wanted to buy a dress that is on special till Sept 15 from $68 to $48. This dress was very popular last year; it sold out, and there were many laments on-line: please bring back the dress! So I checked and discovered that "Yet once more" (quoted from the pastoral elegy "Lycidas" by John Milton) the dress was sold out in black and gray. And, no, Miss Em and I do NOT want rhubarb or blue. The site said "Limited to stock on hand." OK, but I just got my catalog with the sale price a few days ago.
So I tried the on-line chat. First try: disconnected. Second try: operator said that they were sold out with no back order date. I asked for a "rain check," saying that I knew it had sold out last year and that the sale price was good till Sept 15. I said I knew this was not their normal practice, but that the dress sold out within just a few days, blahblahblah. Answer: Sorry, we don't give rain checks.
Honestly, labor costs are so low that I bet GH makes a big profit even when the dress is on sale. So, for a rain check the company could have had my undying gratitude plus a 2 dress sale. Plus future sales. Did I go too far in my request? Should GH have accommodated my request?
Bad customer service from Hamilton Books a few years ago led to a complete boycott on my part.
Ditto for Dell Computer. I will NEVER have anything to do with that company again.
I don't think my Garnet Hill chat qualifies as bad customer service. But it does not qualify as good customer service. What do you think? Was I too demanding? Were they too inflexible? Did GH miss a chance to go the extra mile? Just wondering....