First off, I’m not fishing for compliments. I know most readers are extremely appreciative of our bargain-hunting skills. I have met so many wonderful readers at grand openings, store sales and sneak previews. However, you’d be surprised at the number of negative e-mails we receive. It seems certain readers are quick to accuse us of lying, pulling a scam or doing poor work, when a deal doesn’t work in their favor. I’m always appalled at the vitriol and rudeness because, after all, we are a FREE community service. (For example, we received a particular nasty one yesterday — “I HATE your new format! Your site is now one of the worst.”) There is something to be said of constructive, thoughtful feedback. Kindness always goes much further than being mean. We know much of our success comes from great word-of-mouth by loyal readers. Thank you and keep it up!
If you didn’t know, Mile High On The Cheap is basically maintained by just two people, Laura Daily (MHOTC founder & owner) and I — with her doing most of the heavy lifting. (Still an owner, Claire Walter cut back on her contributions a few years ago, but remains involved. Darcy Graham takes care of our advertising.) Of course, we strive to publish correct information 100% of the time. Every deal, promo or event we publish is thoroughly vetted — whether by a news release, phone call or, in some cases, a personal visit.
We also strive to include as many details as possible, so readers are well-informed and prepared. It’s not an easy task. Hours and hours go into managing the site every week. (Yes, we make the occasional error, but it’s never intentional. As you can imagine, it’s a challenge to keep up with hundreds of e-mails and messages from businesses, readers and PR reps every week.)
If you have trouble with a deal we post, before sending an angry e-mail or leaving a negative comment, please review the following tips: (For most smart shoppers, they’re all just plain, old common sense.)
Participating locations – If you notice, we include “at participating locations” on just about every post. Skilled bargain hunters know that deals many not be available at all locations because some may be franchised, independently-owned or under contractual obligations. Typically, most (if not, all) locations participate in national or regional promotions. (The only exceptions seem to be airport and mall locations.)
However, if you’re unsure about a specific location’s participation, ask first. If I don’t see a specific promo sign, I always clarify before ordering. (To avoid wasting gas or time, call ahead.) In addition, prices and/or limits may vary by location. A few questions can save lots of headaches.
While supplies last – Unfortunately, deals are not never-ending. Because bargain hunters are becoming more savvy and strategic, businesses must limit their deals, discounts and freebies. Just about every offer is now “while supplies last.” Therefore, it’s wise to take advantage of a deal or freebie as soon as possible. You can’t be mad, when you show up in the last hour and all of the freebies are gone. It’s not a scam, false advertising or a “bait & switch.”
Many businesses offer a deal or freebie in the hopes of attracting new customers and repeat business. However, they must also limit their financial loss, in doing so. As an avid “penny pincher”, I’ve come to realize that I can’t get upset over deals I miss (for whatever reason.) Instead, I’m grateful for the ones I get.
Knowledge is power – I’m shocked at people who order first, get the bill and, then, get angry because a discount or deal doesn’t apply. If you’re unsure about the details of a promo, again, ask first. Deals may only be available during specific hours, on certain days or for select items. In addition, many deals are available “for a limited time” and may end without notice.
Never assume, otherwise you may get stuck paying full price. Don’t be shy. Businesses don’t offer deals to make customers unhappy. They want you to be satisfied, so asking questions first will save everyone lots of potential frustration and disappointment.
The misinformed employee – I’m a seasoned bargain hunter, so I’ve had my fair share of missed deals and/or confusion. However, from my years of experience, the biggest issue for customers is a misinformed employee. More often than not, employees are simply unaware of a promo and/or its details. If I get conflicting information or “I don’t know”, I always ask to speak to a manager. Usually, I get the deal or discount — not for the sake of good customer service, but because an employee was ill-informed.
Be assertive. It’s also helpful to be knowledgeable about the specifics of a deal or promo — know before you go! (Hey, that rhymes!) Smart phones have changed the game because you can now pull up a company’s Facebook page or Twitter account as “evidence” of a promo or sale — if there’s any confusion. Because I do my research, I often feel I know more about a deal than most employees.
Contact customer service – If you truly believe you didn’t get a deal (and met all of the requirements), I encourage readers to follow-up with the business as soon as possible. Nowadays, you can reach a company via social media (Twitter and Facebook are best) to share your experience. (I’m old-school and prefer to contact a company via an e-mail or customer service phone number.)
My advice is to keep a good record of dates, times and employee names, as well as your receipt. From my experience, most companies will make it right with an unhappy customer, whether it’s a refund, adjustment or gift card. Just don’t expect an immediate resolution — it make take a week or two for an answer.
In the end, remember, MHOTC is just the messenger. Based on comments, some readers are confused about our relationship with the businesses we publish. If a deal we post is sponsored, it will clearly be noted or highlighted in the post. Otherwise, we do not have a direct relationship or affiliation with any of the businesses. (However, we do have lots of great working relationships with local businesses, PR reps and marketing people.) And, therefore, have no control over any of the deals or promos.
We are simply providing readers with information. (If you really want to support us, click on the ads you see on the site or in the daily e-newsletter. Also helpful, when you patronize a business because of a deal we posted, let them know you heard about them on Mile High On The Cheap! We can always use more advertisers.)
Do you have any tips for successfully taking advantage of deals or promos? What do you do, if you encounter a problem?
If you’re getting frustrated (or the runaround) about a promo in-store, conduct yourself in a calm manner. Raising your voice or using foul language will get you the door — not the deal. (Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way!)
I look forward to our next chat. And, remember, there’s always a deal, you just have to look for it. :-)