Monday, February 8, 2010

How To | Save Money On Damaged Items

As a financially minded individual, I view slightly damaged merchandise as an opportunity to save a few bucks. Missing or loose buttons, pulled thread, scratches, poor stitching, missing tags and so on. These are all defects that qualify for the "damage discount" many retailers offer. In my experience, I've found that this discount is typically 10-15%. But beware, this also means final sale.

If a retailer doesn't offer a damage discount, think of it as an opportunity to negotiate at the check-out counter. After all, the price tag is more of a suggestion than anything else - or at least that's how I view it.

How does this process of obtaining a discount work?

It's pretty simple. The first order of business is locating a defect on the item in question. Inspect it closely. Check all the buttons. Scan over the stitching. Look for marks and stains. Check problem areas such as the crotch of pants, pockets, belt loops, collars and so on. As far as you are concerned, the item should be perfect. That's what you're paying for, right? A brand new, one of a kind, unworn piece of clothing.

The fact of the matter is this is almost never the case. We live in an imperfect world full of imperfect goods, even in retail. There isn't much you can trust anymore with clothing being mass produced on assembly lines in China. Not to mention lenient return policies. And when you shop at "high fashion low cost" shops like H&M, UNIQLO, Topman, Urban Outfitters and GAP it is apparent that these shops focus more on quantity rather than quality in production. So, chances are you'll find something you can complain about.

Once you've located a defect, approach the nearest sales associate with a warm smile and plead your case. If you know the store has a damage discount policy, this will be as simple as pointing out the defect. If not, it can become a little bit more complicated. In my experience, I've found that it's easiest when you have in hand the last of a particular item. In this case, you can use the defense "But this is the last one, sir, and I really want it." The level of kindness of the associate (or how bad of a day they're having) will determine how much boo-hooing you'll have to do.

Why would I want to buy something less than perfect if I don't have to? you may be asking yourself. I'll suggest three reasons: 1) the defect doesn't compromise function, 2) the defect is hardly noticeable, or 3) you can easily repair the item yourself at no cost.

Thanks for reading.


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