Most companies have a toll-free number available to consumers, sometimes found on the packaging itself, other times found in an "About Us" or "Contact Us" section of the product's website. A call to the company can frequently result in individual product coupons and other savings offers not found in the newspaper, in the store, or online.
However, making a call to a large company can be intimidating. Learn from my experiences and use these tips to discover how a no-cost call can yield exciting, high-value coupons—and maybe more!
1. Call with a compliment
We all have certain brands and products which we love, and manufacturers enjoy hearing why. As a thank you, many manufacturers reward their brand-loyal customers with money-saving coupons or even vouchers for free products.
My situation: My outdoor cat got attacked by a raccoon, and I rushed him to the vet's office, expecting some stiches and a pricey bill. The vet could not stitch the wound based on its location on my cat's neck, so he told me it should heal if I would apply Neosporin twice daily for 10 days. I was shocked at this easy, OTC solution. Skeptical, I did as he instructed, and it worked!
My call: "Johnson & Johnson, I am calling with a compliment about your Neosporin product. Let me tell you how your $4 product saved my pet's life and saved me from a several-hundred dollar veterinarian bill . . ." At the end of my compliment to the company, the customer service rep offered to send me three $1 coupons so I could buy more Neosporin and try other company products.
2. Call with a complaint
When a product underperforms, prematurely breaks, or simply does not deliver on a promise, it can be worth a call to the manufacturer to notify them. Perhaps in time they will change their product or formula; in the meantime, companies will often thank their customers for their time and opinion with a coupon or even offer a replacement or refund.
My situation: A pressed bronzer compact I purchased from a drugstore came with a brush that seemed to have a manufacturing defect, or—at the very least—was poorly made. Bristles fell out of the brush and onto my face with every use, making the product hard to use.
My call: "Loreal, I frequently use your products and have always been satisfied with the quality. Unfortunately, a recent product was not up to your company's standards or my own. The bristles of a compact brush were not secured and fell out constantly . . ." Loreal couldn't send me a new brush, but they did send a high-value $12.99 coupon that I could use to replace the product or try another variety of bronzer or face powder in their line.
3. Call with a question
Whether related to how to properly operate a product, how to properly store a product, or how long a product should last, consumers have questions that are simply not answered by a product's packaging or instruction booklet. A telephone call to a manufacturer can not only help clear up any confusion but might net a coupon, recipe booklet, or even—in my case—a brand new replacement product.
My situation: The swivel head on my beloved Rubbermaid Reveal mop broke. I knew there was a one-year warranty on the product, but I wasn't sure if my product was eligible for the warranty since I no longer had my sales receipt.
My call: "Rubbermaid, I purchased a Reveal mop nine months ago from Target, but I have since discarded my sales receipt. The mop has broken: what are my options regarding the product at this point?" After taking down some personal and product information, the customer service rep told me I would receive a $25 voucher in the mail within seven days that I could use at a retail store to buy a new product. The voucher covered the entire cost of the product.
4. Call with a request
Even when customers love a product and are satisfied with a purchase, there may still be an "If only I could . . . " moment where a differently-shaped bottle, an alternative scent, an added safety feature, or other slight alteration would make all the difference. Calling a company to make a request—even to request coupons themselves—is one way to maintain a manufacturer/consumer dialogue that can, ultimately, benefit both parties.
My situation: I saw a new-flavored coffee product on my store's shelves that I wanted to try, but I thought the retail price was high—and I had not yet seen any newspaper, store, or online coupons for the product.
My call: "Seattle's Best, I have been a loyal customer of your brewed coffee for two years, and I'd like to branch out and try other varieties. Do you have any coupons for new products that I could use, specifically any for the four-pack cans of iced coffee?" They did! I received a free product coupon valued at $5.99 that I used the same week I received it in the mail (along with an incredibly nice letter thanking me for my call and two years of consumer loyalty to the brand).
Additional tips when calling companies directly include:
- Establish communication. In addition to coupons, asking to be placed on a mailing list, being willing to offer product feedback, or requesting to be notified of new products or promotions are other advantages to calling companies directly.
- Be courteous. Mind your manners on the telephone. Don't make the company feel like they owe you anything; instead, be positive and kind as you describe your individual situation and make any coupon request.
- Call during off-peak business hours. Avoid calling early on a Monday morning or five minutes before closing time. A mid-afternoon call may net a shorter wait time and a more patient customer service rep.
- Keep the product in front of you. You may be asked to provide a UPC number, batch number, expiration date, or other identifying information from the product, so have the product handy so this can be done quickly without having to put the customer service rep on hold.
What successes have you had in calling companies directly? Did a coupon result? Share your experiences in the "comments" section below.