Frugal Duchess: Lessons from fallen fruit
Assertiveness — and keeping receipts — keeps a consumer happy
A half pint of organic blueberries almost brought me to tears. The price — $5.99 for a small container — pinched my budget, but I felt real pain, when the container tumbled from the grocery bag and onto the sidewalk near the exit of a Whole Foods store.
In the past, I would have eaten my loss or picked up the fallen fruit. Instead, I presented the nearly empty container to the customer service desk. The salesclerk noted that the container had not been properly secured or held in place with a rubber band — standard procedure at this store — and offered a replacement.
The experience prompted me to be remain assertive (and polite!) during future shopping trips. Here are my fallen fruit lessons:
Read and readjust: It seemed like a good deal. I purchased six pillows from Target for $5 each. The golden deal tarnished when I read the weekly store flyer the following Sunday. The same pillows were on sale for $3.49 each. Instead of hitting the pillows, I grabbed one and the store receipt. Nodding, the store clerk at Target gave me a "price adjustment," and I was refunded the difference between the sales price and the actual price for the six pillows.
Love test: I purchased a lamp and a few small tables. I wasn't in love with the items, but the clearance sale price attracted my attention. But beyond the clearance aisle, my purchases looked less appealing. Fortunately, I had saved the receipt and returned the items to Ross within two days. I found other replacements at the store. That experience prompted me to create the love test, a simple shopping exam: If I don't love an item, I don't buy it. That process has streamlined my shopping cart and saved money.
Damage award: The corners of a small green table were nicked. I pointed out the damage to the cashier at Target. On the spot — without time-consuming authorization from a manager — she offered a 10 percent discount. I accepted the deal and made a mental note about the pricing power held by store cashiers.
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