I’m back, bargain buddies! They say to never assume, right? So I should have known better. Based on recent reader feedback, it seems some bargain hunters need a refresher course on the ins and outs of freebies, discounts and deals. We know most readers are extremely appreciative of our bargain-hunting skills and know how to successfully navigate taking advantage of promos. (I have met so many wonderful readers at grand openings, store sales and sneak previews. Much of our success comes from great word-of-mouth by loyal readers like you. Did you know we now have more than 15,000 subscribers?)
However, you’d be surprised at the number of e-mails we receive just about every day with readers complaining about a deal, accusing us of posting falsehoods or claiming unfair treatment — always when a deal doesn’t work in their favor.
Much confusion and frustration can be avoided by simply reading the fine print and knowing most (if not, all) deals follow the same set of rules: participating locations only, limit one per person, while supplies last, etc. For more information on the deals we post, please read on…
If you didn’t know, Mile High On The Cheap is basically maintained by just two people, Laura Daily (MHOTC founder & owner) and me — 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 all of the time. Every deal, promo or event we publish is thoroughly vetted — whether by a news release, phone call or personal visit. If we can’t properly confirm a deal, it does not get published.
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 and maintaining 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:
Participating locations – We include “at participating locations” on just about every post for a reason. 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.
Limit one per person – All deals are limited to one per person and require the person to be present. If a business or restaurant did not set any limits, they would have people abuse the bargain. Promos are a form of marketing, encouraging new customers to come in for the first time or welcoming back regular customers.
Deals are intended to encourage customers to experience the physical location, check out the full menu, shop the aisles and/or make additional purchases. If they did not require customers to be present, none of its marketing goals could be achieved. Their generosity does have a motive. It’s not to just give away FREE food or reduce prices.
With all deals and freebies, companies are greatly reducing the regular price and must limit their financial liability. Again, without limits, they would lose money because of abuse.
It’s win-win, when everyone follows the rules. I’m always grateful for the occasional FREE burger or cone. It’s a pleasant treat and keeps a few bucks in my pocket. I don’t need to be greedy.
Without limits, what would stop someone from getting 10 FREE or discounted burgers?
While supplies last – Unfortunately, deals are not never-ending. Because bargain hunters are becoming more savvy and strategic, businesses must limit their freebies, discounts and deals. 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.” You just missed out.
Many businesses offer a deal or freebie, in the hopes of attracting new customers and/or repeat business. However, they must also limit their financial loss. The supply of free food or items can’t be endless. 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 – As a well-versed bargain hunter, I’ve had my fair share of missed deals, frustration 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. 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, 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. :-)