You’ll Never Know What You Can Get Unless You Ask

I am constantly amazed at what you can get just by asking.

I’ve written before about an experience we had with our van. It needed a costly repair that seemed to be due to a manufacturing defect. Just by asking, I got not just the amount of the repair reimbursed; I got more than the cost of the repair.

Here are two other experiences I’ve had with making a request.

Questioning a rate hike

First, our home security company notified us that the quarterly amount we pay for monitoring would be going up. The amount of the increase was so small—about $11 per quarter—I was tempted to just pay it. But I decided to call the company instead.

I very politely mentioned that we’ve been long-time customers and recently received word that our monitoring fee would be going up. I simply said, “I’m wondering if there’s anything you could do for us about that.”

The customer service rep asked me to hold for a couple of minutes so she could look over our account. When she came back on the line, she said she was able to make an adjustment so our rate would not go up. It took all of five minutes.

Asking for better flights

Next, we were planning a family trip to New York City several years ago. Using miles, I was able to get tickets for all five of us for free. The only catch was that we’d have to use connecting flights both ways.

I was feeling somewhat concerned about that. I didn’t like that there was an element of risk. What if one of the flights was cancelled or delayed? What if we missed our connections? I didn’t want anything to go wrong.

So, I called to see how much more it would cost to change to non-stop flights. It was a lot, so I resigned myself to having to keep things as they were. But then I was notified that our flight times had been changed. They weren’t changed by a lot, but the connection on the trip back home seemed tight, especially for a family of five.

So I called again, mentioned the changes the airline had made, and very politely asked whether anything could be done on our behalf. The customer service representative switched us to a non-stop flight. Even better, it left a little later in the day, which gave us more time in New York on our last day.

I was about to thank her and hang up, but I decided to ask if she could do anything for us on our outbound flight. That, too, had been changed by the airline, but we still had plenty of time to make our connection. Still, I went ahead and made the request.

To my amazement, she switched us to a non-stop for that part of the trip as well—no added cost, no extra miles required. It got us to New York at around 2:30 in the afternoon instead of 7:30 in the evening—again, giving us more time to enjoy the city. All I had to do was ask.

Learning to ask

I often tell our kids, it’s amazing what you can get if you’ll just ask. The keys are to be polite and be willing to accept a “no.” Don’t get all entitled or demanding. Just make your request and see what happens. I’ve had far more positive outcomes than negative.

I hear from many people that they’re hesitant to make such requests. They just don’t feel comfortable with it. I get that.

My recommendation is to practice. Make little requests. In a store, if you’re having a hard time finding something, don’t just ask what aisle it’s in. Ask someone to show you where it is. At a grocery store deli counter, ask for a sample of something. At a restaurant, if you see an empty table you like better than the one you’re about to be seated at, ask for the other one. Getting some little wins will give you the confidence to make bigger requests.

As I point out in, Trusted: Preparing Your Kids for a Lifetime of God-Honoring Money Management, encouraging your kids to practice making requests can teach them an invaluable skill. An easy way to practice is to take them to garage sales. If they find something they want to buy, encourage them to offer less than what the sticker says.

When one of our sons was about eight, I took him to a used LEGO store where he found a set he wanted to buy. I encouraged him to offer a bit less and the person working the counter readily agreed. In another LEGO story, when our other son was about six, he bought a LEGO product he wasn’t happy with. He felt that the packaging was deceptive. So, I helped him find a customer service number. He called, explained the situation, and the company sent him a different product for free.

What’s been your experience with this? What have you gotten just by asking? Or, if you’re hesitant to make requests, why?


2 Responses to You’ll Never Know What You Can Get Unless You Ask

  1. Lanette Henderson March 21, 2024 at 2:29 AM #

    I agree. I did it just as you pointed out…be kind, polite, and very thankful when they say yes. been with you for years and years. You are a great man, and have a wonderful Counsor who lives forever. Lanette Henderson.

    • Matt Bell March 21, 2024 at 12:40 PM #

      Thank you for reading all these years, Lanette!

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