Screw-ups as discounts

Products that perform poorly. Services that fall short. For most of us, these are nothing more than tremendous frustrations. Fewer of us realize that they also represent tremendous opportunities—opportunities to make life negotiable by requesting a discount!

Some people don’t know that companies offer discounts to dissatisfied customers. Others know but are too afraid to ask. So let me be the one to emphasize that underperforming products and underwhelming services represent opportunity knocking! And anyone who doesn’t heed its sound may be throwing money away. So, the next time you find yourself with a dud, I’d advise you to ask the provider for recompense. “How can we make this right?” you might say. Or, “In recognition of XYZ, may I request some money back?” Off the top of my head, this approach has helped to rectify a mortgage mistake, a smoking lawnmower, an underwhelming chimney service, an inappropriate medical procedure, and creaky sofa. Pretty cool, huh?

And pretty simple, so why are so many people so afraid to do it?

Probably because they fixate on the fact that people who ask for discounts don’t always receive them. But they forget the fact that people who don’t ask for discounts almost never receive them. And they never consider three critical facts:

  • You deserve it. You paid for a particular bundle of products of services that you did not receive. So something is due back for the crummier bundle you did.
  • It’s better for them. If they’re a small company or sole proprietorship, they will probably feel better about the combination of discount plus positive word-of-mouth than no discount and a verbal thrashing. If they’re a large company, they’ll at least appreciate your reduced propensity to ding them on social media.
  • You need it. If you just paid for something big that will eventually need repairs or replacement, you really need some money back now to afford it in the future.

So the next time a purchase falls flat, I would advise you to set aside your frustration and at least consider the possibility that it represents a golden opportunity. Of course, this advice comes with some serious and crucial caveats: People who get greedy, go out looking for things to fail, or say something failed when it didn’t are acting unethically, not following the advice offered here. And yet, when things do fail, as they sometimes (often) do, we need to know how to respond. I hope I’ve offered one response that can turn this storm cloud into a sunny day.

Have you ever negotiated a discount after a product or service failed?

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