Service of Discounts III

March 18th, 2021

Categories: Communications, Retail, Sales, Scams

It’s just been two months since I wrote about discounts from legitimate businesses that edged towards scam. I recently came across two instances involving price cuts that I thought illustrated clumsy marketing or poor communications more than attempts at fleecing.

Don’t misread the customer’s willingness to overpay for postage

The NY Public Library gift store promoted a discounted price if you bought two tote bags. The sayings printed on a few were perfect for friends. In the last window of the ordering process they charged me $8.95 for postage/handling. There was no curbside pickup option. The feather-light textiles could be stuffed into poly mailers in seconds, no other packing necessary.

In addition, during the ordering process, I gave them my email address and mobile number to enrich their database so they could send me store updates. For this I was to get a 10% discount [which would have covered the tax]. The 10 percent code was refused. The bounce back message said I had already received a discount and was ineligible for a second.

That did it. I cancelled the order. With the extra $12 the new total came to more than I wanted to pay for tote bags.

The retail department at the library may need to rethink its strategy. Overcharging on postage is not a good way to make more money if it causes you to lose sales. Offering a discount without a warning that it might not apply does not inspire customer confidence. The operation is sophisticated enough that twice I was reminded I hadn’t completed my order. [Missing was my credit card information.]

Greetings from dotted i’s and crossed t’s

In a second instance a text from a favorite greeting card company announced a sale: $3 instead of $4.50/card. When I linked from the text in my phone all the prices were $4.50. I thought maybe there were only a few of the cards on sale and tried to find them. No-go.

I sent an email to customer service. I learned 1) the discount would appear during checkout and 2) all cards were subject to the discount. There was no mention of either in the text or on the individual online sale sheets. After I heard from customer service I placed an order from my laptop. There, on the home page, was a notice that the sale price would appear at checkout.

Just a few more words of clarification in the text would have solved misunderstandings and confusion and saved time. I wonder if the company lost sales from others who didn’t take time to clarify the sales information.

Have you been misled or confused by online or traditional purchases involving sales? Have you cancelled an order because of exorbitant postage/handling charges?


6 Responses to “Service of Discounts III”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Not being a happy shopper, I tend to remember prices for favorite items, so have a good idea as to the worth of discounts, if and when they apply. I have also haggled when I want something that’s on sale, as in a stingy sale, i.e. 30% and under. If the store wants to get rid of it enough, they listen, and the cost falls. Try if folks! It’s fun, and it saves money.

    Tip: I have on occasion missed a sale deadline, so call them up and put on a mea culpa act. It usually works!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m not a haggler but the tip is good advice.

    I imagine in person or on the phone is best in either instance but if you get someone responsive at customer service via email that would also work.

  3. ASK Said:

    I rarely go for anything on sale online unless the discount is over 30%…otherwise by the time you get through the postage, handling, and tax charges, it’s not really worth it.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    If you like the brand and know the item you want rarely goes on sale and can avoid postage charges it’s worth it. I assume items that are sold free shipping have that cost built in. As long as the price is advantageous —or if for pandemic reasons isn’t available locally—-it’s a sale!

  5. MarthaTakayama Said:

    I am leery and mistrustful of online promotions. My biggest disappointment and waste of time was with Mercato. It promised all kinds of gourmet foods, but also a promotional discount and free shipping. I wasted time registering, selecting items for purchase only to find out that nothing including the promotional code functioned or was applicable.

    I not only cancelled my order, but made a call to cancel my membership or subscription or whatever I was duped into applying for. I now ignore all the endless emails.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a great example! Good for you for going to the trouble to cancel your membership! I never paid for a subscription to a well-known stock tip service, I simply clicked on a news brief they’d posted about a company I was curious about. Ever since I get daily emails “this is your LAST CHANCE to sign up.” Irritating.

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