Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Lesson: Discount Stalking

So we've been making some big purchases around here. And while a large part of my brain still flashes warning lights and says nononononononono whenever we shell out for something, another part of my brain knows that this was part of the plan with this house. It needs a lot of work, but it also cost a lot less than most of the other houses we looked at, and the lot is A+ (dead lawn notwithstanding). Our goal, then, is to apply the remainder of our house fund to get through our list of must-do projects, and then... never move again. Seriously.

However, "the remainder of our house fund" is dwindling, and we've reached a point where we're putting a lot of things on our want-list on hold because we need to buckle down and focus on the kitchen. To that end, we ordered appliances last week. It... was expensive. But! Not as expensive as it could have been. I'd been keeping tabs on the appliances we wanted for a while, and the fridge we were eyeing was on a pretty deep discount at Lowe's over Labor Day weekend, so we decided to pounce.

Here is the thing about appliance shopping at Lowe's: they will not only match a published price of any local competitor, they will beat it by 10 percent. The bummer is that I didn't find a ton of crossover in brands or model numbers between Lowe's and other local stores. I did find it on the range we wanted though- Home Depot's website listed it for about $300 less than Lowe's. I brought the printout to Lowe's and it was easy-peasy to get the price match. The guy initially rang it up at the Home Depot price, but then I asked, "Uhh, do I get the additional 10 percent?" and then I DID because no one puts Baby in a corner.

We didn't find any other local stores that were selling our fridge or dishwasher, but they were both on sale at Lowe's, and we also opened the store credit card to get an additional 5 percent off the whole purchase. (Obviously, if you carry a balance on the credit card you negate that 5 percent and then some, so don't open the card if you can't pay it off within the month. The more you knowwwww.)

This trip to Lowe's was also the same trip in which we purchased toilets and a laundry sink. I had a 10 percent off coupon but it said it wasn't valid on sale items. However, after Eric made friends with the toilet guy, talking about golf ball flushing and other toilet things, he agreed to give us an extra 10 percent off the toilets even though they were already on sale. So my tip here is: have an affable husband who likes to chat up toilet salesmen. Kidding. The real lesson: just ask, even if the fine print says no. (We asked if we could use the coupon for the appliances and they held firm in that department.)

This lesson was also true when we bought the living room furniture. It literally had a price tag on it that said something like "A price so low, no further discounts are available!" But Eric was like, "The guy outside in the tent sale said we could get an additional 10 percent; does that apply in here?" And the woman was super friendly and said, "Yeah, I can do a little song and dance for the manager." Had I been there alone, I probably would have read the price tag and never asked. Eric, however, is a smooth operator.

You think I'm done with this boring story, but I'm not. Today, out of idle curiosity, I looked at our fridge again on the Lowe's website and it was $150 cheaper than what we'd paid last week. If there was one thing I learned during my nine miserable months working at Marshall Field's, it was that it's okay to ask for a price adjustment after you've made a purchase. So I called Lowe's, and again, it was super easy. The guy looked up the purchase with my phone number, refunded the difference, and emailed me the receipt.

The end! The appliances get delivered next weekend, whereupon they will sit in boxes in our basement and we will gaze at them longingly until such time that we can actually install and use them.

Here I am looking smug next to our new fridge, which has a sticker price that isn't even close to what we actually paid.

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