Sunday, July 7, 2013

Saving Money through Negotiating and Customer Service

So planning a wedding is expensive.

Actually, life in general is expensive.

But I've definitely been learning some important tools to how to mazimize your spending and savings as I've been wedding planning and merging my life (and income/outflow) with Adam.

NEGOTIATING

Do NOT be afraid to do this.  I have yet to pay full asking price for anything related to our wedding.  I have asked every single vendor one simple question: "How can you help me make this something I can afford?"

The biggest way we have saved a TON on our wedding is by getting married on Friday. Our venue, photographer and videographer automatically gave us a discount for having a Friday evening wedding as opposed to Saturday. I've also used the fact to my advantage when negotiating prices with other vendors, pointing out to them that they could still book a wedding on that Saturday if they so choose.

For others, it's that I've named a price and asked them what they can do in line with my vision for that price.  Generally, what they suggest is perfect, and then I'm not overpaying.

I've also been able to negotiate some better rates by working with folks that people I know well have recommended to me.  I like to think of it as a friends and family discount.  I've been able to negotiate better rates than listed for our cakes, DJ, my dress, bridesmaid dresses, groom and groomsmen tuxes, and more!

All in all, our wedding is still going to cost more than I care to admit.  Part of me feels foolish spending money on such an event, but then I remember I've been dreaming of this day for YEARS and it's important to me and is a celebration of our love and will be worth it.

Plus, we were selective as to where we spent the most.  The photographer, videographer and my gown were our largest expenses... and seeing as how the pictures and video (where I'm wearing the dress) are what we will have to remember the day by? Totally worth it.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

I do not believe in being negative and complaining all the time.  However.  If you receive poor customer service when you have paid good money for something, I think you should always kindly and respectfully speak up.

Case in point: I bought an item on etsy to be used as a gift for Adam's son for the wedding.  It turned out perfectly, but there was a serious lack of communication from the seller throughout the whole process.  I have neutral feedback on etsy.com, and explained that the item was great and had a good value, but that it was frustrating to feel like we didn't get the answers to questions we asked along the way.  The seller contacted me, apologized, and issued a refund back to my card for half of the item's total amount.  Sweet!

Case in point:  I received an item at my lingerie shower that I wanted to get in a different color.  When I went to the store, I found the same item in another color and went to the counter to swap it out.  They wanted me to pay them $16!  It turns out the color I had been given was a "summer color" and the color I wanted was a "fall color."  I asked to speak to a manager and explained that I understood there are new colors each season, but that I felt this was an even exchange since it was the exact. same. item.  He quickly agreed (or maybe he was just uncomfortable being in the lingerie department), and I walked away with the nightgown in the color I wanted at no extra charge to me.

Case in point: We discovered that we needed to replace the hard drive in my old iMac we had given to my mom.  Adam used to work for Apple and knew the ins and outs of such a procedure.  We bought the hard drive through Amazon for half the rate a store would have charged, and we took it to the Mac Experience store instead of Apple, as it was the same replacement for half the price.  Ultimately, it took 3 days longer than they quoted.  Then, WE had to call THEM to ask if it was done yet.  Then, they said it was done and to come on by.  We left to get it, and 30 minutes later when we got to the store they told us we had to wait for them to finish it up.  I asked to see a manager and just politely expressed that it was all a bit frustrating and that he needed to know I desire better communication when we are choosing them to provide something we could have done elsewhere.  I never even asked for anything, but he refunded us half of the price for replacing the hard drive!

FINAL TIPS

I think the key is to always be nice.  Being a born and bred Tennesseean, I like to think I know how to turn on the southern charm.  I always try to be as sweet as possible, but I am very direct in expressing my concerns and desires.  I'm not going to beat around the bush, but I also won't ask for something that's outlandish.  For example, I didn't ask the manager of the department store where I was swapping lingerie to give me another item... I just wanted the same thing as I had before - same brand, same original ticket price - but just in another color.

I love coupons and sales, but those just aren't always available.  And I don't mind paying for quality products and services.  But I think it's important to 1) never be afraid to ask if someone will take less or will work with you on pricing (heck, you may not even want everything they're offering!  See if you can cut some items and also cut the price!) and 2) never be afraid to express when you feel you've been taken advantage of as a customer and see if they offer to make it right.. and in some cases, just ask them to make it right!

2 comments:

dreambigrunner.com said...

Definitely spend money on pictures and video, I still look at them 2 months after the wedding! Best investment!!

Laura said...

Great tips! I've had a lot of frustrating customer service lately (mostly with doctors) and it's really annoying :(