Category Archives: Negotiating

It Never Hurts to Ask

It never hurts to ask for a discount.

On my recent LA trip, as soon as we hit 10,000 feet or whatever the minimum is to turn on your electronics during a flight, I powered up my computer, plugged in to the outlet between the seats, and bought the Internet package for $12.95. For 5 hours of not being bored on a flight, it seemed to be worth the price.

I did some blog work, wrote a few emails, and checked some sports scores. But about an hour in, I realized that my battery wasn’t charging. The outlet I had been using was broken. I tried fiddling with it but got no results. So I turned down the brightness on my computer really low and enjoyed the last few drops before having to power down.

Big bummer. Of course, on Virgin America, you get satellite TV, so I was able to keep busy enough and I took a short nap to pass the time. But I really would have loved a few more hours of being able to do something productive.

When I got home from my trip, I called Virgin America to see if they could do anything about it. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask and that I would be able to get back my $12.95, if nothing else.

Well, the first person I spoke to was pretty understanding. I explained that I chose their airline because I would be able to use their services, and when one of those goes out, I am clearly disappointed. He agreed that the situation kind of sucked for me, and offered a $25 credit toward a future flight. I asked if that’s all he could do, and after a few minutes I got the point that I wasn’t going to get any more money from him, but he did transfer me to the Internet department.

After explaining the situation to them, they checked my history to see that I used the Internet for a little while then not at all for the last 3 hours of flight. So the customer service representative offered me a code to use the next time I flew Virgin. Worth another $12.95.

In total, I got back $37.95. Not bad, but it’s not cash. The reason it doesn’t matter to me is that Virgin America has done right by me and has helped resolve the situation quickly and in a way that alleviated any concerns. I know I’ll be flying with them again, and I’ll just use my credit then!

Of course, this is an honor code thing, so I could complain about the same issue each time I fly, but this is a warning to you all not to abuse your new knowledge. If you do, karma will come back to bite you. But if you ever feel wronged, it never hurts to ask!

In fact, I feel better about flying Virgin now than I did before because I know if something goes wrong, they’ll be there to help me out.

Readers, when you feel you deserve something for less than exceptional service, do you ask for some discount or partial refund?

How We Bought (and Negotiated for) Our Car

The following is a post by staff writer Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Her blog covers living expenses, saving for your future, and the fun stuff along the way.

When I asked my husband what personal finance experience sticks out in his mind, he immediately said “buying my car.” That was indeed a memorable deal. I’m also happy to talk about it since I was amazing, lol.

The Beginning

It all started when my husband decided that he needed a new car. Specifically, he wanted a small SUV that could easily handle all of his school supplies as a science teacher and sports officiating equipment at the same time. I physically cringed at the idea of owning an SUV since gas 2 1/2 years ago was reaching $4 a gallon around here!

Thankfully, he saw a Prius in our Kroger’s parking lot and was able to get a great look at its storage room in the back. He was hooked. That’s when I started looking into cost.

The Toyota Prius did not cost as much as I first guessed, but it was only a few thousand cheaper than the small SUV’s that were on our list. I never thought that I would ever need or want to buy any vehicle that cost more than $25,000, but he did need room and we do use his car for the majority of our driving. So I said nothing and continued looking up prices online.

The Purchase

By the time he had a free evening to test drive a Prius for the first time ever, I knew exactly what they were selling for ($26,000-$28,000), the Kelley Blue Book values of the 2008 models (about $26,000), what price I would be shooting for when he decided to buy ($26,500), and the APR we could get from my old credit union (4.5%). I thought I was fully armed.

I was not prepared for the fact that the 2008 Prius had a 200 person waiting list at that point. We were just lucky that a local dealer even had one to test drive. Sadly, it was a fully loaded model that they wanted $32,000 for after all the fees. It was also the ugliest reddish brown color that I had ever seen. It was supremely icky.

Once I figured out that they wouldn’t even negotiate due to high demand, I was ready to go. The salesmen scrambled to come up with something we might be willing to buy. They lucked out and found a 2007 silver Prius in the used car lot next door.

It was awesome. It had the same design, a few extras (like a back-up camera), and was still sparkly and clean despite it’s 30,000 miles. That was the rub. I had not researched used cars. I had no idea what it was really worth and Mr. BFS did not want to leave without that car. Of course, we should have left at that point and come back after doing a little research, but that wouldn’t have made such a good story, would it? :-)

The Negotiation

Yes, we stayed. I offered something laughably low in that high demand environment – $16,000. They countered with $26,000. I rolled my eyes and suggested they actually work with me and offered $18,000. They came down to $24,500. I said I could absolutely go no higher than $21,000 (honestly, I would have gone for $23,000). They made their “final” offer of $21,500. All of that took about 2 hours and we finally were sent to the Finance and Insurance department.

That guy was awful. He tried to sell us on a 7% interest rate and a $2400 extended warranty. The Certified Pre-Owned beauty was already well-warrantied for another 70,000 miles, but I wanted to see if the interest rate had any wiggle room. I asked how low he could go on the APR if we bought the warranty. He knocked it down to 4.1%. I then asked for him to remove the warranty from the works. When he went back to adjust the APR, I explained that I knew that the APR wasn’t actually effected by warranties and that I’d like it to stay at 4.1%.

Needless to say, we didn’t make friends with that guy, but we did leave with a great rate at the time for a used car. :-)

Results

When we finally were able to drive our “new” car home, I was dying to see how good of a deal I really made. When I frantically typed in all the relevant data into Kelley Blue Book, I was happily surprised to see that I paid $500 less than its “going rate” and a quick look at our credit report and a check-in with our credit union showed that our APR was pretty awesome too. I felt like I won the lottery until I realized we just signed away at least $23,000 in car costs and interest rate charges. Yuck.

In the end, we paid off the Prius by mid-2010 and ended up spending $23,400 total. It is still driving just like new and makes 50-52 miles per gallon, so I’m more than satisfied overall. My husband loves it and even said, “Cars are more fun to drive when they are affordable.” He has no idea how many hours I put into that, lol.

Tips for the Future

Here’s what I would keep in mind for my next car purchase:

  • Research the price, options, and APR for new AND used just to keep your options open.
  • Everything is negotiable, even APR and warranty costs. Keep that in mind.
  • Don’t let your spouse ever say the words “Oh, I really like that one”. :-)
  • Sometimes luck is better than skill, hahaha.

Have you ever gotten lucky on a big deal? Do you have any car buying experiences to share?

The Ups and Downs of Selling an iPhone on Craigslist

This year for my birthday, I was given my brother’s AT&T upgrade to get an iPhone 4. That excited me for a lot of reasons. I got something new and shiny, the ability to video chat, and a far superior camera. It wasn’t something I would pay for myself, but with the upgrade, it was guilt-free.

Actually, it was also dollar free too.

Actually, I made money on the exchange.

What happened?

Well the iPhone itself was $200 with a $36 upgrade fee. I knew I could sell my current iPhone 3G S for around that much, and a quick search on craigslist showed that the lower limit I would get for it was around $250.

Already, it was a great deal and I was ready to pull the trigger.

I ordered my phone, picked it up, called AT&T to activate it…and the service was down. I spent an hour talking to a customer service representative trying to fix the issue, and when he couldn’t, I asked if he could compensate me for the time and stress, so he offered $25. (had I not asked, I wouldn’t have gotten a penny!) Good but not great. I asked for the $36 upgrade fee reversed and he agreed quickly. For an extra day of waiting, I was rewarded with the equivalent of a free month of service. I wonder what would have happened had I asked for $50..

The Lows

Great, so all I had to do was sell my phone on craiglist. People pay a premium for a jailbroken iPhone, and I agreed to sell it for $300, so I jailbroke it for someone who ended up not being interested (was a weirdo who said that since he already came to me, I should accept $20 less than we agreed on. That bothered me, so I said see you later and went back inside. It wasted 15 seconds of my time and he was left iPhone-less, so who had the bargaining power??). I called one of the other buyers. He came to pick it up, and when I asked if he wanted it jailbroken he said no, so I tried to reverse the change quickly and clear all data.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work the way I expected and instead of clearing the data, it did a hard reset on the phone, meaning I had to do a full install of the latest software, which can’t be jailbroken. Of course, he was no longer interested, and I was sorely disappointed.

I was devastated. I upgraded the phone to the newest version of the software, prayed a little, bargained with the G-man a little, and checked to see how much I could get on craigslist. In my mind, I would take anything over $200.

The Highs

It turns out that I got several offers when I set the price at $250, and in the end, someone came and bought it for $270.

All was better. I only lost $10 from what I wanted to sell it for originally (plus a $20 donation to charity that I promised in my bargaining phase).

My eagerness to get that last $20 cost me about 2 hours of time and a ton of stress. Of course, it all turned out well in the end, as it usually does.

My lesson? Stop trying to squeeze every last penny! Take what you can get, be happy with what you have, and don’t worry about getting the very best price. Just get a really good one.

Readers, have you ever made a stupid mistake you thought ruined everything because you wanted to do too much?