Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Why it pays to ask — nicely

We all know you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I'm not really into flies, but I have found that honey can attract coupons, room upgrades, free drinks, cupcakes, cable bill credits and gift certificates. When a business messes up, I nicely ask them how they can make things right. It saves me hundreds of dollars every year.

When the person at the drive-through window apologizes because I must pull over and park because my order is taking longer than it should, I cheerfully tell her it's okay, it's not her fault. "But can you give me a coupon for a free meal on my next visit to make it up to me," I ask. And I always get.

Say a restaurant manager explains the reason diners who sat down after us have their food and we're still licking the crumbs out of the breadbasket is because the kitchen lost our order. I tell him a free round of drinks will ease our hunger pangs. Sometimes free dessert is offered. But if we're paying a sitter and free dessert means more time on her meter, I calmly explain a free entree would really serve us better. Sometimes they are happy to oblige or we get free gourmet cupcakes to go.

After losing two hours of my life on the phone with a customer service representative typing in one inane code after another to get our Internet working again, I usually do go ballistic with the technician. Then I pull myself together and calmly call the billing department to ask that my bill be pro-rated for the five days we've gone without service and that a technician be scheduled to come to my home at no charge.

If I'm told nobody can come for a week, I pause to bite a Lincoln Log between my teeth, then return to the conversation calmly. "Well I guess we'll just have to wait, but can you please take 15 days of service off our bill," I suggest. Our monthly bill is cut in half.

When my daughter's cell phone was stolen at school, we were lucky to get it back a week later. When I got the next bill, I learned that the middle school thief had downloaded $60 in ring tones. I called customer service and explained that I had no police report or other proof that it had been stolen.

"I completely understand if you can't credit us the money that was already deducted from my checking account, but is there is any way we can get any credit?" I asked. The woman got approval and deducted my next bill by $60. I asked to speak to her supervisor and told her how helpful the employee was and that this is why I'm not going to switch providers when my contract is up.

Are you getting my pattern here? No, I'm not a habitual complainer. I'm a habitual negotiator. Just ask what can be done to make this situation right, and any business person worth doing business with will usually want to keep the customer happy. If you're demanding a free steak or a full refund at the top of your lungs that same business person might be happy to say no and never deal with you again.

A few weeks ago I was putting away my groceries and couldn't find the watermelon I had bought. I decided it must not have made it from the checkout lane into my cart or from the cart into my car. It was either the store's fault or mine, but I moved on and accepted the loss.

The next morning when I went to marinate a flank steak, I couldn't find it either. Now I was out around $15. I drove straight to Publix and spoke to the woman at the customer service counter.

"I don't have a receipt to show I bought these things and that wouldn't even prove that I left them here. But do you keep records of food that's left behind by chance?" I asked. No, they don't. But she told me to go get another steak and another watermelon at no charge. Now If I try that every week, I'm assuming it won't work out as well.

My best coup occurred several years ago at the Gasparilla Inn at Boca Grande. We had gone with friends from Washington, D.C., to spend a night and tarpon fish. We had raved about the historic inn where meals are included and served in a beautiful dining room decorated in Old Florida style. I had to admit that even the billiards room that once was open only to men was charming. But when we arrived, about half of the inn was blocked off to guests because it was the site of the prom for an Englewood high school. We were offered vouchers to eat at a restaurant in town, but it just wasn't the same.

I asked a manager why we weren't warned when we made our reservation that much of the inn would be off limits. After all, this isn't a generic chain hotel where all you're paying for is a bed, I said. It's a slice of Old Florida unlike anything else in the country.

He genuinely apologized and sent me on my way. My husband joked that my streak was over — until the knock on our door an hour later. A bell man handed me an envelope with gift certificates for two nights at the inn to use any time in the next year.

Shoo fly, don't bother me. But bring on the freebies.

Comments
Porn actor accused of shooting up Trump hotel appears in court and immediately admits to a crime

Porn actor accused of shooting up Trump hotel appears in court and immediately admits to a crime

Jonathan Oddi, the stripper and porn actor who stormed the Trump National Doral resort and got into a gunfight with police, won’t be getting out of jail anytime soon.A Miami-Dade judge on Monday morning ordered the 42-year-old Oddi held without bond....
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Forecasters monitoring system in Caribbean as rain brings river flooding to Tampa Bay

Forecasters monitoring system in Caribbean as rain brings river flooding to Tampa Bay

More tropical showers and thunderstorms could be headed to Tampa Bay as a low pressure system that is developing in Western Caribbean waters is expected to track up through the Gulf of Mexico, promising more rain for an already soggy region. Much lik...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossible into possible

Stanley Cup-bound Vegas turning impossible into possible

LAS VEGAS — Welcome to Impossible.Those words have been projected onto the ice in big, bold letters at T-Mobile Arena before each game during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Well, the Vegas Golden Knights are turning impossible into possible.The stun...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school leaders call it courtesy busing, but to Lauren Hawkins it’s more a matter of life and death.More students living close to their schools in the Westchase community used the Hillsborough school district’s courtesy bus...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

The Lightning plays in Washington tonight with a chance to close out the series and advance to the Stanley Cup final. Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to talk about the game and why Andrei Vasilevskiy and the defense is playing so well.Plus, the...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Admiral Farragut (17-5) vs. John Carroll Catholic (11-11)When/where: 4:50 p.m. Monday at Historic Dodgertown, Vero BeachHow they got hereAdmiral Farragut defeated Naples St. John Neumann 17-0; defeated Bradenton St. Stephen's 3-1John Carrol...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Cyclists in fatal cougar attack did ‘everything they were supposed to do’

Cyclists in fatal cougar attack did ‘everything they were supposed to do’

SEATTLE — The two mountain bikers did what they were supposed to do when they noticed a mountain lion tailing them on a trail east of Seattle. They got off their bikes. They faced the beast, shouted and tried to spook it. After it charged, one even s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Starbucks: You don’t have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks: You don’t have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything.The coffee giant on Saturday announced its new policy, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

Lava from Kilauea volcano enters ocean, creates toxic cloud

PAHOA, Hawaii — White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago. Auth...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Saints, Eagles, Steelers.Three games against three playoff teams to open the NFL season.Who in the league scheduling office did the Buccaneers tick off?What an injustice!Or not.Maybe the league did the Bucs a favor.Would you rather face the Saints, E...
Updated: 3 hours ago