Last week, I asked my doctor for an additional discount on an upcoming surgery (not covered by insurance). Today they agreed to the discount. We’ll save an additional $300 on top of a 20% discount. Normally I wouldn’t have asked since they already gave me a discount. However I was holding myself to my Just Ask! negotiations challenge and the upcoming surgery was an additional unforeseen cost.
On the other end of the spectrum, I failed to get a discount at my dentist. This was my second attempt but they wouldn’t budge. Even though money magazines and blogs often suggest bargaining on medical costs, I personally haven’t had much success! At most I’ve gotten a 5% discount.
The difference between my doctor and the dentist is a personal relationship. We’ve spent quite a bit of money at my doctor over the past year and he knows we’ve been a “cash cow”. I also believe that he and his nurse do sympathize with our situation on a human level. In contrast, I don’t really know my dentist. I’ve been going to the same dental clinic for 6+ years but I’ve seen different dentists and the majority of the cleaning is done by the hygenist. When I asked for the discount, I’m talking to a receptionist or billing person who only sees me as one of hundreds of patients.
Free Money Finance had an interesting post and discussion about a reader’s personal experiences with negotiations. The reader felt like he was less successful than others when it came to getting discounts. Was he giving the wrong vibe? Was he too nice or too rude? I do think that how you ask makes a big difference. I have more success if I’m nice and smile. Sometimes I have to get tougher. On bigger items like cars, healthcare and salary, I’ve succeeded when I’ve had research to back me up. Oh, and show confidence at all times!
How about you? Have you noticed a pattern of success and/or failure in your own negotiations?