Doesn’t Hurt to Ask

This morning I went to Fred Meyer and got some doughnuts for breakfast (it’s our anniversary!). I decided to also get $15 cash, because I still owed the two younger kids their allowance. But, I was in the self-checkout lane, and I forgot to give myself my cash! I didn’t realize it until I was out running errands after breakfast and stopped at the bank.

Well, Fred Meyer was on my way home, so I decided to stop and see if anyone might have been kind enough to turn in the cash.

The cashier asked for my receipt, and said (of the other cashier) “she saw the cash and picked it up.” She checked my receipt, and handed me three five-dollar bills. Yay!

And mind you, this was three hours later. I thought it highly unlikely that I’d get the cash back, but figured I’d give it a try.

That, I think, is part of my philosophy of being a customer: it never hurts to ask, as long as you aren’t going into it with a sense of entitlement. If the cashier had said “nope, sorry,” I would have been disappointed, and mad at myself, but it’s NOT the store’s job to cover for my forgetfulness, so I would have understood.

But if I’d just stuck to “mad at myself” and not bothered to ask, I would have missed out!

And I do this in other situations, too — asking for a discount on a damaged item, or a refund on a defective item (moldy sour cream, for instance), negotiating a price at a garage sale or on Craigslist. Or, getting something after a deadline has passed, or arranging a substitution. And sometimes they say no, but sometimes they say yes!

It’s really important to be gracious, though. For instance, businesses using Groupon often report problems with unpleasant customers – people who insist on redeeming expired Groupons, or who want half-price items directly instead of buying the Groupon.

Again, it doesn’t hurt to ask. If you forgot about your Groupon, and you’re one day late, go ahead and ask! Maybe they’ll say yes. But they’ll more likely say no. And you need to accept that, not insist that you are entitled to a discount even though you are the one who made the mistake.

Asking isn’t easy for me, and I don’t do it every time, but I’m often glad I did.


Photo by bfishadow on Flickr, used via CC BY 2.0