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November 01, 2007


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Absolutely, depends on what you're buying though, and it isn't likely to work with a large company / chain. For retail items it might just be the convenience of not (a) having a percentage of the sale eaten by the credit card companies and (b) not waiting for it to come through is enough to compel a small business to sell it for less in cash.

I generally employ this strategy when dealing with automotive repairs. Again, you're dealing with a small business, and here if the mechanic gets paid in cash he's unlikely to declare it as income. Just make sure the repair isn't anything overly complex as there won't be any paperwork.

The downside of this of course is losing the protection you get by buying things on a credit card if something should go wrong.

Dan and Kevin above got it down right. Just mentioning paying by cash and asking for a discount (whether implicitly or explicitly) works great with small businesses assuming you're purchasing a fairly big ticket item. But, by doing that, you do run the risk of getting screwed over if something goes wrong, particularly if the store owner is unscrupulous. Credit cards do work effectively to keep them in check.

Even when you are paying with a credit card, it never hurt to ask. I don't ask every time. But when I ask, I can report, my asking works 95% of the time.

On another note. My biggest surprise came one day when I got what I deemed to be a junk mail promotion for a pharmacy prescription discount service. I took the paper to the pharmacy and I ask them if they know what that is and if they want to use it. They said fine then typed the numbers into their computer and viola! gave me a discount for a whopping $150 for my prescription bill! I began to worry.. I thought is surreal because I wanted just to throw this promo away when I got it. I asked them if they are not mistaken, I asked them to double check it 10 times. I still think it is surreal, but hey, I am going to take this discount month after month until someone wakes me up and tells me I was dreaming. LOL...

It never hurts to ask, and can work even for small items.

I was at Starbucks with my husband one evening, and we were eyeing all the baked goodies they have on display. One of us said something along the lines of "I sure would like one of those cookies" and the barista immediately asked us which one. We then said "none, unless you're giving them to us for free." We ended up with a free cookie each :)

For big-ticket items, this is usually because salespeople are willing to write off items paid for in cash, calling them damaged or stolen. This is possible because cash leaves no paper trail. By asking for a discount to pay in cash, you're encouraging the employee to defraud his employer. Similarly, by leaving restaurant tips in cash, you're encouraging the waiter to under-report his income on his tax return.

I'd say it's debatable whether it's right to encourage this kind of behavior.

I tried that while buying furniture. NO DEAL. Granted it was a large chain, but still I tried to get a couch. I also bought my tires from Costco using a $60 coupon. Found it was cheaper than calling everywhere for the same tire. Go figure.

"by leaving restaurant tips in cash, you're encouraging the waiter to under-report his income on his tax return."

Yes I am, and that's exactly why I do it. It's my patriotic duty to limit the expansion of our federal government. The less money I give (or can help others avoid giving) to our corrupt kleptocracy, the better.

"by leaving restaurant tips in cash, you're encouraging the waiter to under-report his income on his tax return."

or, you know, making sure that the money i intend for their service goes to them and doesn't go to the restaurant (which does happen at some establishments).
you can't encourage unethical behavior by how you leave a tip. that's ludacrous! it isn't yr job to police the behaviors of yr servers.

I say ask every time you buy. For smaller places cash will be a swaying factor since it's costly to process credit and debit cards. But you can't get what you don't ask for, so you should always ask for what you want.

"I'd say it's debatable whether it's right to encourage this kind of behavior."

Honestly I don't care what they do. For me paying cash is the best thing to do, and if it helps things for them by me paying cash then I'm all for that as well. They will have to decide what works best for them the same as I do.

My wife and I have had fun shopping with cash recently while shopping for furniture. We were buying antiques at consignment shops, we bought 2 items and saved $400 easily. The first one was $1500 "marked down" to $895 we got it for $750. I say "marked down" because it was antiques, and I buy what I like, not what they tell me it's worth.

The other piece was $650, we offered 350, they said no way, we then said $400, they said there's no way they could do that even with cash. I said well thank you very much, and my wife and I left. As we left, I thought, "I should give that guy my number in case they change their mind". So I went back and gave him my number. We shopped at a place next door, and in 20 minutes or so, he called and took my offer. It was great!

Cash does work, try it.

Cash can be good sometimes, however, you loose the security leverage you have by charging the purchase. You can't dispute a charge if the product has problems and the store refuses to fix the issue. You can't take advantage of the "extended warranty" many credit cards automatically provide on purchases. Once the store has your cash, you're pretty much on your own.

I had a problem with a Lowe's flooring installation costing $10,000. I disputed the charge until the store fixed the installation issues. What kind of leverage would I have had if I payed cash? Not much, they already have my money. At least with the credit card the money is essentially still in my pocket while the dispute is open. The Better Business Bureau? They are useless.

I haven't had any luck disputing a purchase. I've been told that if I received the product, I'm pretty much out of luck. although the "product" was a U-Haul rental trailer, and that might have played a role.

Wow, great stories everyone. Especially the one from the antique store calling back after 20 minutes. When I'll be buying a big-ticket item, I'll be sure to bring cash with me and ask "What if I pay cash?" and negociate!

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