Want a Price Break? Just Ask.

People have learned that post-delivery price breaks can be obtained simply by asking. And it’s a shame. There’s nothing wrong with shopping for the best price/value combination when looking to purchase services. There’s nothing wrong with negotiation. There’s nothing wrong with capitalism. But once a deal is made, each party should deliver what’s been agreed upon.

Service providers need to offer clear contracts, void of trickery and hidden fees. They must then deliver on the contract. However, once delivery is complete, the client needs to pay. This is where there seems to be some confusion. Customers, even when completely satisfied, seem to think it’s appropriate to ask for price reductions after a contract has been fulfilled. How does that make any sense? On what basis?

Unfortunately, this behavior is reinforced by companies who often provide price breaks as a first response to requests. For example, I recently called my cable television provider to cancel my service. Upon being asked, I explained I no longer wanted the service. Without further inquiry, they simply offered a temporary price reduction. I have to wonder, if a lower price is possible, why have I been paying more all this time. Are they simply getting whatever they can, then lowering the price to a more reasonable level when it seems advantageous?

This philosophy does not improve service quality or customer satisfaction. It’s simply an attempt to create a balance between the decreasing perceived value of a service and the price someone is willing to pay. However, lowering the price further reduces the perceived value and reinforces the idea that the provider is focused on finding the price you will pay, instead of focusing on quality and setting an appropriate price. It also teaches people that there’s always room for post-delivery negotiation.

I always discuss pricing and contract terms with clients early in the sales process. But sometimes after successful project delivery a client will ask for a price break when the invoice comes due. I always ask if they feel I didn’t deliver what was promised or if there was a charge they didn’t understand. The typical response is something like “no, everything is great, I just thought I’d ask if there is anything you can do to help me out on the cost.” Really? This type of behavior is shady and insulting at best, but borders on dishonestly.

So, want a price break? Just ask, everyone else does. And there doesn’t seem to be any shame in doing it.

by Matt Smith // The CEO of Modmacro, Inc. an independent web design and marketing firm that partners with small businesses and non-profits in Southern California and all over the U.S.

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