Want A Discount? Try Asking

It's the holiday season, and that means people will be reaching for their wallet much more over the next few weeks. But whether you're buying a present for that special someone or simply making your everyday purchases, Jennifer Openshaw dropped by The Saturday Early Show to say that you shouldn't settle for full price, but ask for a discount.

Openshaw is the author of "The Millionaire Zone and family financial editor for AOL.

She offers four ways to ask for a discount:

  • "I've been a loyal customer for years. Are you offering any special deals for new customers that I should know about?" It does seem more than a bit ironic that a new customer would get a better deal than someone who has been using the product or service for years. It happens all the time, though, in the world of magazine and newspaper subscriptions, health clubs, banking, cable companies, and cell phone plans. So whenever you see a new deal offered from a company you already work with, call up and ask if they can offer it to you too.

    Make some "jingle bell" noise about how unhappy you are to be penalized for your loyalty, suggest that you might take your business elsewhere or cancel the service, and don't be surprised if you end up with something to make you feel better. Go ahead and ask this question of anyone you've been loyal to over the years: your dentist, your auto mechanic, or your children's piano teacher.

  • "Is this the best you can do on the price?" A perfect way to ease into getting a better deal, this simple question is a polite, but not pushy, way to ask for a discount. Openshaw says she uses it all the time. It works best in a bazaar-type setting like an antiques and collectibles fair or a big outdoor craft event — anyplace where you are dealing face to face with a decision maker.

    It allso works when you are buying in large quantities; for instance, a bunch of personalized T-shirts for a family reunion or employees.

  • Does this item go on sale any time soon?" Great tactic to use around the holidays. There are few things in life are as annoying as making a big and important purchase only to learn that the very same thing went on sale for half price the next day. So always ask about planned sales before you pay full price for anything. Openshaw says she uses this tactic, especially if she's buying something that she thinks is generally expensive, like a unique piece of clothing.

    She also uses it if she's buying something seasonal and we're about half-way through the season (since many seasonal items go on sale in the middle of their season, not the end). Some stores will go ahead and make the sale right away with the reduced sale price and others will let you put your items on hold until the sale begins.

  • "Do you have any of these in the back that have been returned?" Many major retailers routinely take returns from their customers and then are willing to sell the returned items to someone else at a discount. Perhaps the display box was damaged, or there is a tiny scratch. Ask about "open box" items, returned merchandise that is slightly used. You can also ask to buy the floor model at a reduced price, this works in electronic stores and office supply stores with televisions and laptops and appliances. This is a great strategy over the holiday season when things like TVs, laptops, and other electronics run out of stock.

    For much more from Jennifer Openshaw, visit her Web site.