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Requesting a discount at the deli counter


Yesterday, I was waiting for my number to be called at the deli counter in the grocery store. A man standing next to me ordered a ½ pound of ham that was on sale for $5.99. When the deli clerk gave him the ham, the man leaned in towards the deli clerk and said quietly, “now can you give the same price on the roast beef?” The deli clerk said that he would have to check with the manager and, after doing so, came back and said, “yes” to the customer, who then asked for a pound. So, this man, just for the asking, was able to get $4 off the roast beef. I have never heard anyone ask for a discount at the deli counter before, yet the deli clerk did not seem surprised by the request. So I wonder, is negotiating a discount at the deli counter a common practice?

  1. My mom would agree. She acts like life is a Turkish bazaar. She'll negotiate the price of anything. It's horrifying. And impressive... I guess there's nothing to lose by asking but I personally wouldn't do it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Hobbert

      My dad paid full price for blankets and silver in Mexico because of the scars my grandmother (who sounds like your mom) left on him.

      1. re: Hobbert

        My dad was the same way, in his mind only a sucker would pay full price. To him, everything was open to price negoiation and he would get very offended when a business would refuse to engage in his "dealings"

        I remember him calling me after he was asked to leave a national big box retailer. Apparently he would not accept the fact that the clerk in the electronic department would not give him a discount on a TV. He was even more frustrated when I said "yes, I can believe Store W doesn't negoiate prices."

        hambone - I suffer like your father, I almost never ask for even a gentle discount at places where it wouldn't be out of the ordinary.

        1. re: cleobeach

          This unfortunately is my husband. He was raised "in a different day and time" as he is older than I and was raised by his grandparents (so that makes him what, two generations removed?). To use the cliche, back then, everything was haggled/negotiated and that is how he grew up. He asks for discounts everywhere we go. It is embarrassing to me in some places such as the big box stores and some clothing stores but you wouldn't believe the times that his request is granted...more often than not! He of course gives me the raised "I told you so" eyebrow and I want to burrow into a hole. I guess it makes me feel cheap? I don't know, it only bothers me when HE does it, not when the guy next to us in line does :P

          1. re: mandymoo

            "in a different day and time" also describes my dad, add to that being raised in a different country too.

            There was definately a cultural difference at work.

            For me, I think it is remembering the feeling when the "asking" moved on to my father becoming more aggresive (and louder) in his request. It was at that point, I would become ashamed/embarrased.

            I suspect often he was given a discount just to make him go away.

            1. re: cleobeach

              I have to say that my husband asks and if told no he doesn't press, usually says "can't hurt to ask!" and moves on with a shrug. I can see him in his later, more cantankerous years, being a bit more insistent but oh well, I'll cross that bridge.....

            2. re: mandymoo

              All the years I worked in retail, I encountered this occasionally and it was usually someone with a foreign accent. One person seriously asked if I couldn't just "throw in" a handle bag because they were buying 2 pieces of luggage. Sure, and go ahead and fill it up with Waterford crystal on your way out too, because you are such an awesome customer and we love you! We had to call a manager when someone pitched a huge fit asking for a discount and they would begrudgingly give 10% off, and then everyone talked about what a pain in the ass the person was and how they hoped to never see them again. I guess all that mattered to those people was the 10% off, but I sure wouldn't want that kind of reputation all over town, and can't understand people who do.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                I guess the hagglers (my mom included) weigh the importance of being thought highly of by random store clerks against getting a discount. Mom opted for the discount and we had a nice childhood. Not solely because of this, of course, but I'm sure it helped when raising 4 kids as a stay at home mom. Dad was a mechanic so her coupons and haggling and all the rest of it was a contribution. I feel a little silly haggling in the US but I definitely do it on bigger ticket items- electronics, furniture, that kind of thing. It's surprising how often the answer is yes.

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  I tend to agree. I am in a completely different line of work and don't directly sell to people. But I do have discretion as to when to waive fees (late, NSF's, etc.) and I also pay vendors and clients. It is my practice to be more lenient with people who are generally polite, reasonable and considerate and to stick to the letter of the law with people who are arrogant and demanding. The squeaky wheel does not get the grease in our office; in fact, my stated motto (inside joke only, of course) is that "the happy wheel gets the grease." I refuse to reward poor behavior.

                  Again, I recognize these are different scenarios and it sounds like from the OP's description of the person making the request that they were polite and respectful. I still don't get the thought process, though.

          2. Guess this supports that old adage that it never hurts to ask, the worse thing that can happen is they say no.

            I can say however that this has never even occurred to me and I have never seen it done.

            I have seen the deli guys offer a discount on the tail ends-the kind that don't really slice well so they come off kind of shredded/broken.

            1. Ugh! In my humble opinion, my take on this is cheap, cheesy, ballsy, unmitigated gall. People like that make my skin crawl for some reason.

              62 Replies
              1. re: Bacardi1

                Not sure I feel quite that strongly, but I'm definitely leaning your way.

                I could see asking for a discount if you were buying the whole piece or something, but not for an ordinary everyday purchase.

                1. re: Bacardi1

                  I agree!! ~~ Thanks for the polite adjectives...Mine would have made some folks blush!! :)

                  1. re: Bacardi1

                    It's nice that you have an unlimited budget and are able to pay full price for everything. Car dealers must love you!

                    Unfortunately, for many, cost is an object. I can honestly say that asking for a discount at the deli counter had never crossed my mind, but for you to denigrate someone for having the courage/astuteness to ask for a discount is harsh. $4 might not mean much to you, but, maybe, for this man, it meant that he'd be able to purchase another necessity. Or, maybe, this man is a top customer at this store and they gave him the discount to thank him for his continued business, kind of like the some groceries have rewards cards. Whatever the reason, more power to him, I say.

                    1. re: Vidute

                      But in this case the guy behind the counter isn't giving a discount using his own money; he's likely just some worker. It sounds like the guy asking is expecting that they'll just ring up the second one *as if* it's ham, not roast beef. Which is stealing, IMHO.

                      1. re: DGresh

                        Based on the post there's no reason to go to that conclusion. The customer asked the deli worker, the deli worker asked the manager who approved. For all we know, the next day the deli was going to have a sale on roast beef and figured giving the person the sale price a day ahead of time wasn't a big deal.

                        1. re: DGresh

                          "The deli clerk said that he would have to check with the manager and, after doing so, came back and said, “yes” to the customer"

                          How is it stealing if it's brought to management and it's approved by them? Let's stick to the facts as the OP presents them.

                        2. re: Vidute

                          Car dealerships & deli counters are two completely different industries, & negotiating the price of a car is a world of difference from asking for/expecting a discount on deli food.

                          And since when did deli-sliced roast beef become "another necessity"?

                          1. re: Bacardi1

                            You may define what types of food are and are not necessities - but in general, I'd say that food ranks for most as a necessity.

                            While I completely understand someone feeling personally uncomfortable haggling/negotiating themselves - I really don't understand looking down on it. I think that waiting for a food product to be weighed/prepared/packaged and then trying to negotiate the price to be unattractive. But negotiating the price before asking for the item - I say go for it.

                            1. re: cresyd

                              I think it's fair to say that haggling in a non-haggling culture could be expected to be shunned.

                              It all comes down to posted prices in grocery stores -- if you want to pay the posted price then that is accepting the posted price.

                              If you don't want to pay that price, for whatever reason, then you need to keep walking.

                              And again -- this applies to retail stores -- where prices are posted, and the consumer knows that this is not open to haggling.

                              Cars and houses? That's where you're semi-expected to haggle.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I think it happens far more often than just in cars and houses in "non-haggling" cultures.

                                I know that when my mom has worked with various "event" suppliers (caterers, florists), in a non-business context she's always haggled. And, I've essentially done it in clothing stores (in the US), when there's a visible flaw/stain/damage to the garment (i.e. what kind of discount would you give me on pants with a broken zipper). While obviously in a chain clothing store, such a discount would be standard policy and not necessarily individually negotiated by clerks - the concept is the same.

                                I'm not saying go into a Whole Foods and haggle on the price of grapes, but if it's a smaller scale business, and you're dealing with management/owners, I don't see the harm. I assume most suppliers and businesses haggle with one another, don't see why it's necessary to draw the line with the consumer.

                                Ultimately, I think that haggling takes more time and thus other people find it rude when they're waiting for the haggling to finish. And as this thread clearly shows, you're going to have people think of you as cheap, rude, etc. But if you don't mind people in line possibly staring you down or slightly embarrassing people you're shopping with - I say go for it.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Actually there was just on article on Home Depot, that every employee is authorized to give discounts on the spot. Regular associates, let's say up to $50 or $100 (can't remember), floor managers maybe $500 and store managers $1,000. So you never know until you ask. I think I've heard the same for some other big box stores.

                                  That said, I am SO not a haggler; don't enjoy it tell the truth. But I did get an instant 10% discount from the cashier at TJMaxx once when I noticed a chip on the LeCrueset I was buying as I was checking out, that was nice. He was just a cashier but didn't have to even ask anyone.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    >> That said, I am SO not a haggler; don't enjoy it tell the truth.<<

                                    Same here – haggling is not something that I am comfortable with. Some years ago I was told to haggle the price of a contract with a big recruiting company. No one was more surprised than me when I scored an 18% discount, when all management expected was 12-15%.

                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                    Why do you "need to keep walking" if you don't want to pay the posted price for something? Maybe we think of ourselves as living in a non-haggling culture, but in my experience that's not uniformly the case--at least not in New York City, where I live. Many independent merchants here are from haggling cultures themselves, and they don't bat an eye when asked for a discount as long as there's some rational basis for it. (For example, the item is a floor model; the customer's buying an unusually large quantity of something; etc.). They just say yes or no, and unless the customer has the bad taste to insist after being told no, the transaction is concluded amicably. No shunning involved.

                                    1. re: Miss Priss

                                      because that's how the system works.

                                      If you're just going to make up a price for everybody who walks in the door, then why have a posted price at all?

                                      The store doesn't get an extra discount because they gave you a discount...so why should the store take less profit for customer A than for customer B ?

                                      I have no problem with asking if it's an unusually large quantity or if there's some sort of defect...but not for a loaf of bread and a pound of ham.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        but retailers do make up a price for each person that walks in the door. yours happens to be the posted sticker price. if someone has the wherewithal to ask for a discount, his price is the discounted sticker price. if someone has a store loyalty card, his price is the loyalty sticker price. if someone has a coupon, his price is the coupon sticker price. if someone is of a certain age, and not ashamed to proclaim it, his price is the senior discount sticker price. posted prices are fluid. if you chose to pay the posted price, that's your choice. don't disparage someone for wanting to pay one of the other prices.

                                          1. re: Vidute

                                            but those are structured prices, not "made up for each person who walks in the door".

                                            Manufacturer's coupons are reimbursed by the manufacturer, so the store receives the money anyway.

                                            Store coupons are usually underwritten by the manufacturer, too, in the form of a rebate or discount on that particular item -- so the store gets the money anyway.

                                            Loyalty discounts vary depending on cost and profit (and set discounts on things like store-brand items or magazines are most assuredly figured into the profit structure).

                                            Senior discounts are figured into the profit structure -- just like loyalty discounts.

                                            They might have price levels for different groups of customers, but that's vastly different than making up a new price for everyone who walks in the door.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              when coupons are doubled, or even tripled, the store is giving that person a discount for a product that is not reimbursed by the manufacturer. that is a price that the store "made up" for that particular buyer. think extreme couponing.

                                              the loyalty cards for some at some of the stores that i shop discount products that are specific to my shopping habits. that is a price the store "made up" for me.

                                              promotions such as spend "x" amount and get a ham/turkey/chicken/lasagna/etc free provide a discount that is "made up" for a particular buyer.

                                              so, as you see, the store does make up a new price for each person who walks in the door.

                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                Please do not believe for a heartbeat that the manufacturer does not pay for those coupons -- or for specific discounts offered "just to you" (which isn't just to you -- it's to anyone who has bought a particular product featured in a vendor program, and reimbursed by...the manufacturer)

                                                and those buy x get y are NOT made up -- they are printed and distributed, not dreamed up on the spot.

                                                I'm guessing you're not familiar with the pricing and discount structures between manufacturers and retailers...but it's not random, and it's not made up, and I promise you somebody pays the store eventually, even if it's not you.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  the manufacturer does not reimburse for over the face value of the coupon. any amount over the face value is absorbed by the retailer. harris teeter has double coupons up to $2 this week so that means if i use my $2 coupon on that tin of coffee, and you don't, i will have paid $4 dollars less than you. ok, $2 out of that $4 is reimbursed to the store; however, the store is still giving me an additional $2 off of their posted price which comes out of their pocket and which you are not receiving. so, they "made up" a price for me that is $2 less than the price they made for you.

                                                  several groceries in my area have a policy that if their scanner scans the wrong price, you get one of the incorrectly-scanned item for free, along with the difference refunded for all of the other like items. now, i see that my jug of laundry detergent scanned for $10 but it's on sale for $6. i take choose to take my receipt up to customer, speak to the clerk, point out the error, and receive the $10 along with the free jug of detergent. the store has just "made up" the price of $0 (zero dollars) for me. you buy the same exact jug of detergent, get charged $10 for it, don't notice the error and go home having paid full price. the store "made up" a price for you of $10 for a product with a posted price of $6. or, you're not aware of the store policy, so you tell the cashier that the item is on sale for $6 and cashier makes the correction at her register. so, you go home having paid the $6 price which the store "made up" for you. this is the same product with three outcomes, three different prices.

                                                  I'm guessing you're not familiar with the pricing and discount structures between manufacturers and retailers...but it's not random, and it's not made up, and I promise you somebody pays the store eventually, even if it's not you.

                                                  and i'm guessing that you don't understand what you, yourself stated above. let me paraphrase what you said. i am being given a price that is lower/unavailable/unknown to you. i will not have to pay the store, somebody else will. using my above example, I get the $6 detergent for free and you wind up having paid $10 for the exact same item, over-paying $4. i get a "made up" price of zero while your price is more than the posted price. so thank you for paying for my purchase.

                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                    No, Harris Teeter does not absorb the cost of the extra $2. They get it back from the manufacturer.

                                                    They did not make up a price just for you. You qualfied for a price that they set up so that some people would qualify for it, and they have already factored it into their profit structure.

                                                    They know, way before you even start to think about getting your keys and heading for the door, that x people will qualify for (read: have the coupon or card for ) y% discount. They allow for it in their profit structure.

                                                    They have also made agreements with their vendors to be reimbursed for z%. z% always exceeds y%. When it doesn't, they drop that item, and possibly that vendor.

                                                    And I (or any other customer) am not paying *extra* -- I simply am not qualifying for the discounts that they have establish.

                                                    These are not made up discounts, and they are certainly not random. These are carefully structured percentages that they allow a pre-determined percentage of people to qualify for.

                                                    (I've worked for companies that sell to major grocery, mass-merchandise, and home centers around the world. There is nothing random or made-up in this industry.)

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      if your coupon redemption statement is correct, "They have also made agreements with their vendors to be reimbursed for z%. z% always exceeds y%. When it doesn't, they drop that item, and possibly that vendor." then why don't all stores offer double, triple, coupon promotions since, according to you, the vendors will reimburse?

                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                        paperwork, and some just don't want to play the "me, too" game.

                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                    Yep! As a manufacturer of refrigerated consumer goods, a coupon face value (even the catalinas) are not Krogers or Meijers loss, it's ours. But they are calculated and usually targeted to encourage trial.

                                                    While you think everyone get that coupon, not everyone did and it was placed in your newspaper by zipcode or printed out at the register due to your previous purchases.

                                                    1. re: Crockett67

                                                      (but it's still a big group of people who got that coupon....even if it's through one of Catalina's programs, it still spits out a *lot* of coupons...)

                                                      Is the coupon-redemption rate still in the single digits, percentage-wise?

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Nope, it was lower a few years ago, like 25-40% redemption, nonetheless, never single digits.

                                                        But it depending on if the item is core or new. Meaning if a roll of sausage or bacon has a coupon, it has a higer redemption rate since people use that item regulary. If it's a new product, say a cheese, egg, spinach stuffed biscuit put out by Pillsbury, redemtion is not as high. The consumer is getting a discount to try the product but it's not a sure bet.

                                                        Since 2009, coupon redemtion on our core items has sky rocketed. Like 85%+ redemption. This has hit our marketing department and impacted the amount of coupon we release as a result. There is only so much that is budgeted a year for that line entry. This is why we are very specific on where coupons are droped and who receives them.

                                                        1. re: Crockett67

                                                          Aside from the hassle of finding them, I rarely use coupons because the items I buy never seem to have coupons, and since the brands that I buy are my preference why try something that I feel will disappoint me.
                                                          Though I do use coupons when the brands are of comparable quality, or if it's a new brand/product, but those are in-store coupons placed alongside the product. Sadly most of my grocers coupons are for lower-quality house-branded products trying to lure shoppers from the national brands. While I suppose adequate, the times I've tried regular house-brands have left me disappointed, although I regularly seek out their premium house-branded products. Prior to about 2009 I don't recall seeing in-store coupon placement at my grocer, do you attribute that to the skyrocketing redemption?

                                                          1. re: Custardly

                                                            Out of my field. Possible though.

                                                      2. re: Crockett67

                                                        "They have also made agreements with their vendors to be reimbursed for z%. z% always exceeds y%. When it doesn't, they drop that item, and possibly that vendor."

                                                        according to this statement by sunshine, you, the vendor, also reimburse the store for amounts over face value, such as when stores offer double or triple coupons. is this correct?

                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                          Yes, it is.

                                                          it may not show up as a line-item credit of "double-value coupons", but the vendor pays for it.

                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                            I work R&D, not marketing/sales. While possible, I would be surprised if they did also pay the vendor the double or triple the coupon value. It's never been mentioned/lamented in meetings. But it could just be accepted 'the cost of doing business'.

                                                            Thing is, we make so little on products. The lionshare of the mark-up is on slotting fees and their cut. If we put out a $0.50 coupon, honoring it for $1 to $1.50 per unit would be a loss gain of epic measure!

                                                            1. re: Crockett67

                                                              Aren't those accounted for as loss-leaders?

                                                              1. re: Custardly

                                                                "Loss leaders" is a grocer-term not a manufacturing term. Meaning the grocery chain/stores are taking a hit on sought after items, like turkeys around Thanksgiving, in order to entice you to do the rest of your weekly or thankgiving shopping needs there that single shopping episode. Usually 'we' are lazy and once we are in a store, typical consumer will just do all there shopping there.

                                                                The grocer is banking that you will buy enough milk, egg, tea, ect to make up the difference. I.e. to get that free turkey you have to purchase at least $100 in groceries (not including Rx, alcohol, or tobacco) during that visit. It also build brand loyalty, good will, and commitment to the chain. Butterball did not donate all those turkeys at Thanksgiving that Harris Teeter or Giant Eagle gave out. The grocer still had to pay the agreed on case cost.

                                                                Another way too see this is, Butternut bread is not reciving any kickback from Sara Lee when a grocer decides that if you buy 2# of Sara Lee turkey, you get a loaf of Butternut bread free.

                                                              2. re: Crockett67

                                                                thank you, Crocket67. the store managers i've spoken have all told me that the store is only reimbursed for the face value and that any amount over face value is the store's responsibility.

                                                    2. re: Vidute

                                                      Fantastically said!!! That's the idea behind one of my earlier replies where I complained about discounts only to specific populations.

                                                    3. re: sunshine842

                                                      Well ... my point is that the system *doesn't* actually work like that everywhere, or all the time. The posted price is just an offer to sell at that price. It's not a contract until the customer accepts it. Except in unusual circumstances, retailers are free to lower their posted prices at will, and they do it whenever there's some sort of gain in it for them, even if it's not evident to an observer. Life definitely seems more fair when we believe that everyone's being treated equally, and less fair when we discover that some people have proactively obtained advantages that we didn't get, but that doesn't change the fact that it goes on all the time, even at the deli.

                                                      1. re: Miss Priss

                                                        but it is the normal and ordinary, and overwhelmingly common, way of doing business.

                                                        We can draw up exceptions until we all keep over and forget what we were talking about.

                                                        But the normal and ordinary business practice is to post a price and that is the price that is paid.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          Yes, normal and ordinary--just not universal or mandatory. I'm not advocating that we become (more of) a haggling culture, by the way. I'm only pointing out that it goes on all the time in retail, even if it's in a small minority of transactions. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and all that.

                                                          1. re: Miss Priss

                                                            but those are exceptions...the vast majority of the time, that's exactly how the system works.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              Agreed. That's usually that's how it works in retail; and in general, we're the better for it. It creates predictability and a certain kind of fairness. I just don't see why that should bar a prospective buyer from asking for a discount that the seller has every right to deny. To me, it doesn't seem like a violation of the social contract (or a blow to our supposedly free-market system) when a person tries to initiate negotiations with someone who can simply refuse to negotiate. And if the seller chooses to grant a discount to another buyer but not to me, and no systematic discrimination is involved, my choice is to accept it or shop elsewhere. I can even encourage others to boycott the place!

                                                              1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                if sunshine wants to pay full price, that's her prerogative. but just because that is her choice, that does not mean that everyone else should fall in line and do the same because, daggonit, there's a price shown and that price should be for everyone. each transaction is private between the seller and the buyer, no matter what the venue. and as you said, Miss Priss, as long as both parties agree on a price, whether it's the posted price or a negotiated price, then it is a fair market sale. after all, a retail store is not in the business of holding onto merchandise, that would be a museum.

                                                  3. re: sunshine842

                                                    You have to ask whether we're truly a non-haggling culture and why that perception. In business, price is constantly negotiated, it's only in retail that we're not expected to haggle—to whose benefit have we been conditioned.

                                                    I'm an aspiring haggler. My perception is that if a business is able to make a profit on a reduced-price item, then it's not unreasonable to ask for a discount. Why is it okay to buy a car for supposedly only a hundred dollars over invoice, but not to ask for a discount on items sold beyond 100% their production/wholesale cost?

                                                    It's sad that we've allowed ourselves to be conditioned to retail profiteering. Rather than thinking of it as asking for a discount, it's what that person is willing to pay. For me, that's a fair price for both seller and buyer.

                                                    Still, other than using a coupon, I've never thought to haggle over food...how interesting.

                                                    1. re: Custardly

                                                      er, no. Price is not constantly negotiated. Manufacturers and wholesalers have costs -- and in a huge number of industries, set their prices once a year and don't move from those (save for extremely large purchases, which everyone has pretty much agreed falls outside of this discussion)

                                                      Even industries that rely on very volatile pricing, like industries based on petroleum distillates, typically only change their pricing every 6 months or so.

                                                      Most manufacturers are asked to give 90 days notice for price changes...that's hard to do when you're making everything up as you go along.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        i was shopping for a refrigerator last year and stopped in at hhgregg. the price displayed on the refrigerator was marked as regularly priced at $2199 on sale for 20% off, $1759. i opened the freezer door and found the previous week's price tag which showed the regular price as $2049 on sale for 15% off. when i asked the manager about this anomaly, he said that the wholesale price fluctuated from week to week. uh-huh. yeah, and the sales price was basically the same for both weeks. needless to say, i didn't buy the refrigerator and i haven't been back.

                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                          Vidute, wow, such blatant evidence of the retail pricing game, it's no wonder why some people haggle!

                                                          1. re: Custardly

                                                            Exactly! I remember seeing an illustration that accompanied an article in a biz journal about prices paid for airline seats on a single flight. A dramatic range in price paid, from zero (for coupon or frequent flyer customers) to full fare. Lesson learned: don't ask the guy next to you what he paid as you'll probably be depressed for the rest of the journey.

                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                          Actually business prices are constantly negotiated—agreed upon. Whether an industry has a set or variable price does not preclude it from being negotiated. Regardless, I only meant to suggest that consumers have a presumption that it's unacceptable to try to obtain a better price. Still, I could have worded it better.

                                                          1. re: Custardly

                                                            not in the fast-moving consumer-goods industry (i.e., grocery, mass-merchandiser, home center)

                                                            Those prices are set months in advance.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              We're debating two different things...semantics wins again!

                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                But the point that seems to be ignored here is that asking is not the same as getting. The deli clerk, the manager, and whoever else worked at the store also had the power to say "no." They would have done so if it were the store's policy to not negotiate and/or if what was being asked would harm the company. I don't think it's up to consumers to think in the best interest of the profit-margins of the retailer.

                                                          2. re: Custardly

                                                            Margins in retail stores tend to be very tiny. Pricing is calculated very precisely. Non-reimbursed coupons, senior discounts, discounts on errors (mis-scan, damaged goods), shoplifting, etc. are all budgeted in. Individuals coming up and begging for a discount is not a built in cost.

                                                            Having worked in retail, I can tell you that when people come ask for a discount, it puts the store in a tough position. Sometimes they give in just to keep the haggler from throwing a fit in the store. I've seen that.

                                                            The lost revenue, though, has to come from somewhere. It's considered just like shoplifted merchandise. The costs are recovered by raising prices on other items at other times and by cutting costs, which generally comes down to lower wages to the employees.

                                                              1. re: taos

                                                                whoops. responded to wrong post.

                                                                  1. re: Custardly

                                                                    I think the it's easy to ascribe that the US/West is non-haggling because it's not done in the same way as open market shouting haggling is portrayed in films about the Middle East (and in fairness, does sometimes occur in the Middle East).

                                                                    What I think the real marker is that it's more considered 'unseemly' to talk about business in "public". If someone's discussing a catering menu/bill for a private party - that's typically don't in a one on one setting. When negotiating a car price, it's done in a more private space. If I want to buy a case of wine/item in bulk from a small retailer, it's typically done "off to the side". I think that open haggling or discreet haggling (examples like showing a flawed item of clothing to a sales rep just to see if there's a discount to be had) are very common in the US/Western cultures - but it's mannerly to be done quietly.

                                                                    In more "open" haggling cultures, loudly engaging in a discussion about the price of deli meat does not automatically imply that the shopper is low class or poor, but rather seeking out a good price and being a smart shopper. Just in the same way that just because someone could afford to purchase a car at sticker price - the overwhelming feeling would be that they were ripped off/engaged in bad business. Not a sign of them being generous or cool about money.

                                                                    Going back to our deli meat guy - I see what he did as stepping outside normally perceived haggling manners. But I think a wide sweeping "we don't haggle" way of thinking really neglects a whole lot of subtle negotiations (and far more open negotiations) that do occur all the time.

                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                  Yes, food's a necessity. Now that I'm retired and living on way less income, I rely on the packages of marked-down ends in the deli section. Some stores do not pre-package them, or they get behind and haven't had time to pack and weigh them yet, but they are available if the customer asks.
                                                                  My reaction to the scenario witnessed by the OP is as negative as that of the other commenters.

                                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                                    Vidute +1

                                                                    to each his/her own.
                                                                    you don't know any particulars about the person seeking the discount-maybe their dog died the day before and they're not thinking straight, maybe the mortgage is due and unexpected family (who thinks he/she is doing well money wise) just called to say they're in town and wanna spend a few days at this persons place, maybe its a person who just got good news about his/her health is finally treating themself to a nice plate of deli faire, who knows.
                                                                    I've never done it, it wouldn't cross my mind, never heard or seen anyone do it.
                                                                    but it shouldn't be my concern if someone did same right in front of me. I might even pop a response, " wow, now 'that's an idea."

                                                                  2. re: Bacardi1

                                                                    I think it depends on what you're used to. There's always the whole Middle East culture of shopping where negotiating is part of shopping culture to such an extent that not engaging in some kind of bidding is seemed as rude or dismissive. As though you don't have the time to engage with the vendor.

                                                                    And a great way to be royally cheated.

                                                                    1. re: Bacardi1


                                                                      Well that's a rather unhumble opinion, and quite judgemental.

                                                                      What gets my ire is the multitude of discounts only offered to select members of the population. If they want me to pay full-price, then they better darn well charge everyone else the full-price too!

                                                                      I'm new to haggling so I rarely ask for a discount, but I admire those who do and hope to further cultivate it in myself. I use to feel similar to you, but I'm weary of being cheated and subsidizing others!

                                                                    2. There are only 2 situations in which I can conceive of asking for a discount at a deli:
                                                                      (1) if I were buying a large volume, say for a party. But then I'd be much more likely to call ahead to be sure the manager were available and so as not to hold up the line for others
                                                                      (2) if they were sold out of an advertised sale item, I might ask if they would substitute a competing brand at the same price. And, I'd only do that based on past experience, when I've expressed disappointment in such circumstances they often volunteer the substitution without any request.

                                                                      1. I'm OK with this as long as the person behind the deli counter is the owner.

                                                                        If it's just some employee, or part-time hack, then I think it's in both bad taste and judgment.

                                                                        1. The only discount I'll ever (jokingly) ask for is "seniors" which I'm well qualified to receive if offered.

                                                                          1. OMG. The roast beef cost 9.99 a pound? I guess I would have asked for a discount, too.

                                                                            Folks, just buy an eye of round roast, and a meat slicer, and never have to buy your sandwich beef at the deli/grocery again.

                                                                            18 Replies
                                                                            1. re: RosePearl

                                                                              Is that too much? That's what I pay for regular Boars Head at my grocer, I think the house brand is two dollars less.

                                                                              You're right, I intend to start making my own deli meats to reduce cost, but mostly to avoid nitrates.

                                                                              1. re: RosePearl

                                                                                Yep, thats about the right price. ham, roast beef, pastrami. Oh, it might vary by as much as 50 cents a pound on some items, but just under to just over $10 a pound for deli meat is pretty typical in major grocery stores.

                                                                                I'm not comfortable haggling, but so long as its not creating a huge inconvenience for other customers, then I don't really see the harm. In many countries they just don't respect you if you don't at least try. In the US we like to flaunt our affluence by being proud to pay full price for almost everything and tend to look down on people who tell us they got a great deal on their new pair of jeans because they used to date the sales girl 20 years ago.

                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                  I was a bit shocked at the $9.99lb price but I am from a different part of the country I guess? I usually pay about $6.99lb for pastrami and roast beef, less for ham and turkey. Guess it depends on the store and area you live in.

                                                                                  1. re: mandymoo

                                                                                    Me too, but I know Hawaii is crazy with their prices. $4.99 to $6.99 seems like a normal cold cut price, on sale. I don't jump through hoops for Boars Head either, they are not the end all and be all.

                                                                                    amended: I am going to guess wholesale price of good roast beef at about $5? whatever the case, I am certain they didn't lose money.

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      I would agree. If there was much loss of profit the manager probably would not have agreed so readily!

                                                                                      1. re: mandymoo

                                                                                        Is anyone really sure the employee actually talked to the manager?

                                                                                        We know he/she left for a few minutes, and returned and said "ok".

                                                                                        Did he/she actually ask?

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          <<The deli clerk said that he would have to check with the manager and, after doing so, came back and said, “yes” to the customer, who then asked for a pound.>>

                                                                                          I am only going by what the OP said but if we are taking his/her post at face value, that this incident happened in the first place, then I suppose we must also believe when they said a manager was consulted. If the clerk was going to give the discount "on the sly" then why go through a ruse of asking for permission? I guess it could happen though!

                                                                                          1. re: mandymoo

                                                                                            that's my point -- we're all assuming that the employee spoke to a manager...if that employee had been reprimanded or was in a bad mood, it's just as likely that they walked around the corner, took a deep breath, and came back and gave the discount just to be spiteful.

                                                                                            Nobody really knows, so let's not hang garlands on the employee and the manager...it might have been out of spite, not the kindness of anybody's heart, and the manager might not even know he/she approved the discount!

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              Good lord, talk about speculation.

                                                                                              1. re: kengk

                                                                                                exactly. Pure speculation.

                                                                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                and maybe the employee went to the back and ran his gloved hand across the bottom of his shoe and came back and handled the roast beef with that contaminated glove and gave that contaminated roast beef to the customer just to be spiteful because the customer had the gall to ask for a discount on the roast beef. that'll teach that customer to ask for a discount when he should be paying the same price as everyone else. who does he think he is!?


                                                                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              I saw him go speak to the deli manager.

                                                                                          2. re: coll

                                                                                            it was at Safeway Stores in Hawaii. I figured I was getting ripped off, but when I was in Los Angeles in November it was only a small (less than $1) difference there. Over $9.

                                                                                          3. re: mandymoo

                                                                                            ok, madymoo, i hope you're sitting down for this one. i received a $20 coupon for having a prescription filled at wegmans. i took that coupon and treated myself to a $20 portion of jamon iberico which is priced at $99.99 (ninety-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents) per pound. darn good piggy! regular grocery purchase for myself? heck, no! but with "found" money, a really nice treat.

                                                                                            1. re: Vidute

                                                                                              Did you ask for a discount on the price per pound? Just curious.

                                                                                              1. re: Dax

                                                                                                no, but i did ask for a sample. :) now, i'm waiting for another prescription to fill and $20 coupon to go with!

                                                                                          4. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                            I remember being too embarrassed to use coupons, but now that I'm fully grown-up I'd rather keep my affluence in my wallet.

                                                                                          5. re: RosePearl

                                                                                            Well, obviously, if the person can't afford $9.99/# for roast beef then, perhaps, they shouldn't be shopping there.
                                                                                            Enough said.

                                                                                          6. I've never asked for or been offered a discount.

                                                                                            That said, last week, I was buying ham last week. The assistant weighed it and printed out the pricing label and then added some more slices. No explanation other than "you might as well have these as well". Next I was buying a slice of gala pie and, because it was the end of the pie (and therefore a lot of pastry), she altered the weight on the scales somehow to effectively discount it. Never happened before.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                              I find that scenario more problematic than the one in the OP. In your situation, the assistant (unless she was also the shop owner) was engaging in small-scale theft from her employer. In the OP, a customer asked for a discount, the employee referred question to the manager, and the manager agreed. I don't see a problem there. I don't personally haggle at grocery stores but if done politely in such a way that it isn't causing delays to other customers, I don't care. I do enjoy haggling in other situations - cars, appliances, furniture, bulk purchases.

                                                                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                Unless the assistant was acting within store policy. I know my regular grocery store has a policy of rounding down for deli and meat counter items sold by weight. If I order a pound of cheese, and they cut over by an ounce, they will override the scale and charge me for a pound even. I never request it, and it's happened with different employees at multiple locations of the same chains.

                                                                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                  Certainly not problematic as far as I'm concerned.

                                                                                                  This was a national supermarket chain and the assistant was either acting within policy or was, as you suggest, engaging in a theft from her employer (an offence usually taken seriously here). In either event, that was a matter for her and I couldnt really give shit one way or the other.

                                                                                              2. But did the discount roast beef come with a warranty?

                                                                                                1. I wrote the original post. Sadly, it seems like people in the grocery store behave with no consideration for others anymore. That makes me angry. But this was not one of those situations. All the man did was ask – nicely enough. I think I was more surprised by the deli clerk’s lack of surprise at the request, which led me to post here. This was not stealing – he asked, he received. While I wouldn’t do it, I was impressed that he received a 40% discount off the roast beef. If he can get that deal weekly, he saves over $200/year.
                                                                                                  Now don’t get me started about the bitch that stole the parking spot I was waiting for before going in to the store…

                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: EM23

                                                                                                    Sorry about that! I was in a rush and well my shopping IS more important!

                                                                                                    <<big grin>>

                                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                      Of course. And I'm sorry I moved your shopping cart to another aisle when you weren't looking. But you really should not leave it in the middle of the dairy aisle unattended, ya know?:)))

                                                                                                      1. re: EM23

                                                                                                        Stop! I am cracking up at the office and people are staring at me!


                                                                                                    2. re: EM23

                                                                                                      <<Now don’t get me started about the bitch that stole the parking spot I was waiting for before going in to the store…>>

                                                                                                      Nothing ticks me off more when shopping!!!

                                                                                                      Shame on you foodieX2 :)

                                                                                                      1. re: mandymoo

                                                                                                        LMAO! All I keep thinking about is Fried Greem Tomatos and the seen with Kathy Bates in the parking lot. I have so wanted to do that at times!

                                                                                                        [Evelyn is cut off in a parking lot]
                                                                                                        Evelyn Couch: Hey! I was waiting for that spot!
                                                                                                        Girl #1: Face it, lady, we're younger and faster!
                                                                                                        [Evelyn rear-ends the other car six times]
                                                                                                        Girl #1: What are you *doing*?
                                                                                                        Girl #2: Are you *crazy*?
                                                                                                        Evelyn Couch: Face it, girls, I'm older and I have more insurance.

                                                                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                          a momentary urge we've all had.

                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                            I thought of exactly the same thing!! Love that movie (maybe because I am older and have more insurance now too).

                                                                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                first time i saw a version of that joke was in Road & Track magazine in the early 1970's, I'd be surprised if it didn't go back further than that. The lines were simpler: Thats youth/Thats Wealth.

                                                                                                              2. re: mandymoo

                                                                                                                I totally agree! I hate that, especially when it is obvious that a person is waiting for a spot (blinker in use), etc. And even more joyous is when someone takes one of the few handicapped spots when they clearly at that moment are not handicapped. Not saying they don't have issues at times, but if they can move as quickly as I can without obvious effort, they don't need a handicapped spot. Meanwhile, I have to walk my mom, who is most definitely handicapped, across the parking lot in the rain with her walker, moving at a snail's pace. That was yesterday's fun outing...can ya tell I'm still a little peeved?!?!

                                                                                                                1. re: jlhinwa


                                                                                                                  I recommend you learn that qualifying conditions are not limited to VISIBLE mobility issues. Here's the list of NY State qualifying conditions. (See numbers 6 and 8 below for example)

                                                                                                                  I'm not naive enough to believe no one abuses the handicapped parking places, but you'd save yourself a lot of stress if you accept you can't diagnose who is and isn't legitimately parking in the HP places. Perhaps a more productive approach would be to drop your mother off close to your destination next time the HP places aren't available.

                                                                                                                  A qualifying disability is one or more of the following impairments, disabilities or conditions that are both permanent in nature and affect mobility:

                                                                                                                  1. Use of portable oxygen;
                                                                                                                  2. Legal blindness;
                                                                                                                  3. Limited use, or no use, of one or both legs;
                                                                                                                  4. Inability to walk 200 feet without stopping;
                                                                                                                  5. A neuro-muscular dysfunction that severely limits mobility;
                                                                                                                  6. A Class III or IV cardiac condition (American Heart
                                                                                                                  Association standards);
                                                                                                                  7. Severe limitation in the ability to walk due to an arthritic,
                                                                                                                  neurological or orthopedic condition;
                                                                                                                  8. Restriction because of lung disease to such an extent that
                                                                                                                  forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for one second,
                                                                                                                  when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, or the
                                                                                                                  arterial oxygen tension is less than sixty mm/hg of room
                                                                                                                  air at rest;
                                                                                                                  9. Any other physical or mental impairment not previously
                                                                                                                  listed which constitutes an equal degree of disability, and
                                                                                                                  imposes unusual hardship in the use of public
                                                                                                                  transportation and prevents the person from getting
                                                                                                                  around without great difficulty.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                                    Indy, thanks for the info. I am very aware that there are many reasons--some more obvious than others--that a person is issued a handicapped tag. I am also aware that abuse of that status is rampant and results in truly needy people not having access to handicapped spots.

                                                                                                                    A couple of examples: my uncle was disabled and had a handicapped tag. Sadly, he passed away a couple months ago. Last week, when out to lunch and errands with my aunt (who is just a few years older than me and definitely not disabled in any way), she parked in handicapped parking at every stop. I was mortified and appalled. Another example is a friend, who had surgery oh his ankle. For a short period of time, he couldn't bear weight and relied on crutches, etc. He was issued a handicapped tag. He continued to use it well past his period of recuperation until it became obvious (probably by others' comments etc) that he didn't need it.

                                                                                                                    Why are people so selfish and thoughtless? I don't know. There's lots of times it would be lovely to use a handicapped tag for convenience and I have one because I am my mom's primary driver. I have it legally and can use it. I can let people think I have a "silent" disability. I just can't conceive of letting my selfishness impact someone who truly needs that spot.

                                                                                                                    In this particular case, the thing that pushed me over the edge was that the person also left their empty cart on the ramp so I had to move that while helping my mom walk (painfully slowly), dodging cars and in the rain. And there was another person in the car, doing I don't know what, but certainly not showing any common courtesy for others.

                                                                                                                    Unfortunately, it's people like I've mentioned (sadly my own friends and family included) who make it difficult for the truly disabled--invisible or not.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                                      I have a handicap parking tag. I don't look disabled. In fact, during this season, you'll often see me walking very quickly to get from my handicapped space to the entrance of the building.

                                                                                                                      I have a severe chronic lung disease. The reason that I am walking quickly is because I have to hold my breath to get from my car into the store or the cold air or wood smoke from nearby houses will lead to really bad things happening. I've tried masks - unfortunately while they work in theory, in practice, my lungs aren't strong enough to suck the air through the type of filter that I would need. When I finally asked the doc for a prescription for the tag, he said: "I thought you already had one."

                                                                                                                      I know that there is lots of abuse. I see it all the time. But there are also plenty of people that don't have visible impairments that legitimately need it.

                                                                                                                      You would be shocked at the number of people who have said obnoxious things to me about this. I have even had jerks leave notes on my car.

                                                                                                                      1. re: jw615

                                                                                                                        I hate the fact that on so many of these types threads the general consensus seems to assume the worst of people.

                                                                                                                        If I see a well dressed person using food stamps I don't think "FRAUD!" I think of a person recently down on their on luck.

                                                                                                                        If I see a person using a handicap placard I don't think "ABUSE OF THE SYSTEM" if they aren’t obviously handicapped.

                                                                                                                        If someone asks for a discount I say "more power to you" because really, the associate could just say no. And if the associate does say yes I don't assume he is doing it illegally.

                                                                                                                        It just seems so sad that "few bad apples" really does seem to spoil the whole bunch, at least on this site.

                                                                                                            1. I have never thought about asking for a discount at the deli counter so I am not sure if it is truly common practice or not. I can say that I do not have a problem with someone asking and I wonder why so many people posting here do? *That statement is not a challenge or a request for an argument but I guess I do not see why anyone would care or think it is so terrible to ask.* It isn't as though this person was asking for a few more narcotics to be added to their prescription or anything, nothing illegal, at least as far as I can tell. This person could be a regular customer that is well received at the deli and because of the business they give and possibly send their way the deli is willing to extend a kindness here and there. It could also be a case of a random buyer getting lucky by the catching the manager on a good day! Who cares? He asked, he received and and was given a bit of a blessing that day.

                                                                                                              1. I work at a high end deli/butcher, and if someone asked for a discount off of deli meat I would laugh at them. We live in north america, not the middle east. It is not common. In fact we do not give large volume purchases either, although we do wholesale discounts if prearranged with a manager/owner

                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: cupcakez

                                                                                                                  How sad that you would laugh at them instead of politely saying No.

                                                                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                    Yes. It is a reasonable question with two possible, and equally reaonable, answers: "I'll check.... yes, I can offer you XXX" or "no, I'm sorry. I can't offer you a discount."

                                                                                                                  2. re: cupcakez

                                                                                                                    The only thing I'm laughing at is your reasoning that since it is an uncommon request, then it must be unreasonable. In my non-deli experience, discounts are nearly always given on large orders, and I'd expect the same should I ever buy a large quantity of deli or butchered meat.

                                                                                                                    1. re: cupcakez

                                                                                                                      and what deli is that? I want to be sure never to shop there.

                                                                                                                    2. Haggling at the deli is a new one on me. I do wonder if the manager had known that others in line overheard the conversation he still would have said yes. Because that sets a precedent. And even though I'm not the haggling type.. I honestly don't know if I could have kept my trap shut when it was my turn or not. Why should I have to pay 40% more than the guy in front of me...

                                                                                                                      14 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                          if i had been feeling roast-beefy, i would have chimed in "i'll take a pound, too!"

                                                                                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                            Haha, when I overhear things like that, I do the ol' "me too" routine as well!

                                                                                                                          2. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                            miss_belle, why keep your trap shut (as long as you open it nicely)? At best, you get the same discount; and at worst, you find out why the manager thinks you should have to pay 40% more than the guy in front of you!

                                                                                                                            1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                                                              I am fairly certain I would speak up regarding pricing. The deli manager should be held accountable for his foolishness in this matter.

                                                                                                                              1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                                If the deli manager then offered you the same discount, would you accept it?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                                                                  I can't imagine *why* he wouln't offer me the same deal. After he's caught in the act of the guy in front of me.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                                    Saying that the manager was "caught in the act" implies that the manager would agree with you that there was something wrong about his behavior. But maybe he wouldn't. He may have felt perfectly justified, for whatever reason, in giving the other customer the requested discount. In any case, if you spoke up (nicely) and he offered you the same deal, would you take it? Would it be unfair to the next (silent) customer if you did?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                                                                      Miss Priss- your post didn't show up for me last night. I would ask nicely but matter of factly in a normal tone of voice. Not *quietly* like he did. The way i look at it is if enough people in line file suit maybe the manager will get the message and put a stop to this practice. Fair is fair.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                                        That seems like a reasonable way to handle it: calmly ask for the same discount. If you get it, great. If not, you decide whether or not to continue shopping there--and whether or not to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. (I don't think there would be grounds for a lawsuit, though.)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                                                                          Oh no...I meant to say *follows* suit not files...

                                                                                                                                        2. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                                          "file suit?"
                                                                                                                                          I teach in schools, and "fair" has always been an issue. Children can understand that "fair" doesn't mean "same."

                                                                                                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                            Many times it seems we adults need to relearn that lesson. :-)

                                                                                                                            2. Never heard of it, but if that guy gets 40% off on a regular basis I think he's on to something and we are all suckers.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: twyst

                                                                                                                                Ha ha! Made me giggle...that's another way to look at it :)

                                                                                                                              2. Wish I read this a few days earlier. Last Friday at the deli I saw a pricey packaged specialty cheese that was dated to expire the next day. I didn't buy it, but now wish I had thought to ask for it to be "discounted for quick sale" a day early.

                                                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Custardly

                                                                                                                                  My grocery store does this and I love it! I shop every couple days and stock up when the about to expire meat is marked down.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                    I must say I do this sometimes too! I always check the "better" cuts of meat when I am shopping and if they are discounted I buy and cook them immediately or freeze them for later! I always feel like I am getting a primo bargain :P

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mandymoo

                                                                                                                                      Haha yes! Saving money somehow makes it taste a little better, I think :)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                        I've got eight frozen packages of chicken tenders that I bought at 1/2-price last Friday. Told the cashier I felt bad about not leaving any for other shoppers, but it won't stop me from taking her advice to shop in the morning since that's when they're marked down.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: mandymoo

                                                                                                                                        you are getting a bargain! and i do the same. best snags...organic free-range 15 pound turkey, $10. organic pastured 5lb boneless leg of lamb, $5 (first time i made irish stew), and 16-20 count head-on fresh gulf shrimp, $2.99/lb and steamed to order for free, with a bonus surprise of an additional 25% off at check-out because it was seafood sale week. those were my "lottery" wins.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                          That was akin to a Powerball win!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                            Vidute, great finds!
                                                                                                                                            In talking to a cashier, I was reminded that my grocer will give an item for free if a like item is found expired on their shelf. She told me about an old lady who regularly comes in just to get free stuff.
                                                                                                                                            Impressed by her savy, I thought it'd be fun to one day try the same. I think I got like $80 worth of free food! To top it off, at the deli a fancy prosciutto was missing the "per pound" on the price, I joked with the deli guy that if I was one of 'those people' I'd insist they sell me the entire thing at the posted price. He said I should because people do it all the time...so I did! Needless to say, while professional, the manager that checked me out was clearly upset (probably at her staff, rather than me).
                                                                                                                                            I only did this the one-time a few years back, but really should do it every visit.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Custardly

                                                                                                                                              great going, Custardly! let me guess, superfresh/a&p? before they left central maryland, i used to do the same thing. i called it my "scavenger hunt". it was a lot of fun finding those prizes. here's to a successful "hunt" on your next excursion!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                Actually it's H-E-B, Texas' largest grocery chain. Oddly, with considerably less stores, according to wikipedia stats, it has greater revenue than A&P. Probably 'cause they're a virtual monopoly down here.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Custardly

                                                                                                                                                  nice to know that there are other grocers with this policy.

                                                                                                                                                  i'm not familiar with H-E-B, but here are a couple hints that i picked up with a&p/superfresh

                                                                                                                                                  search in the frozen meats (poultry,etc) and in the frozen seafood cases. i found that these cases are frequently forgotten when the staff checks for sale-by dates

                                                                                                                                                  check batteries- i was buying batteries and while standing in line, reading the packaging, i saw that there was an expiration date and that the pack i had was expired

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                          Me too....also great deals on nice cheeses, dips, spreads, etc. I now know when they put those items out at half off and time my visits accordingly. I have tried and loved some lovely cheeses that way that I probably would never spent full $$ on.

                                                                                                                                      3. I've been on the cashier side of this many times, in different industries, and even had people asking for discount on their bills for professional services in my current field. No matter who asks, or how nicely, I always resented being put on the spot like that. Chances are pretty good that the person being asked has no authority to grant the request, and may then feel forced to bother their boss with the petty request. I know plenty of people feel like there's no harm in asking, but from the other side of the counter, we don't like it.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                                          Unless they insist on you asking your manager, can't you just tell them no? Before it happens again, perhaps you can ask your manager how they want you to handle discount requests so you won't feel put on the spot, or like you're bothering them.

                                                                                                                                        2. I was at Mazur's in Little Neck to get a nice pastrami sammich at the deli counter.
                                                                                                                                          An elderly woman in front of me was trying to buy a rotisserie chicken but she only wanted to spend $3.50 (I think). The counterman brought out several that were in the $4-5 range. "Too much! I'll only give you $3.50" He suggested she buy 1/2 chicken. "I want a whole chicken for $3.50"
                                                                                                                                          I thought I was in a public market in Tel Aviv.
                                                                                                                                          Since I had to get back to work and really wanted my pastrami sammich I gave the counter man $3 and asked him to giver her the biggest chicken he had. He did!!
                                                                                                                                          I respect my elders and had a good lunch and a good story to share.

                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                            Great story, made me laugh :)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                              you probably gave the "l'il ol lady from little neck" a great story of how she negotiated a jumbo chicken for $3.50. :) you have a good heart.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                People like you make grouchy people like me smile:)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                                  Ooh, I like your name! So much cooler/cuter than "Lilypad" on "How I Met Your Mother".

                                                                                                                                              2. I've never seen it done. I've seen say, six freebie slices of cheese handed out to a mom's pack of kids before the cheese is weighed/priced. Is this the mom/pop deli where prices are written on butcher paper in grease pencil? Because at my local market, everything is computerized. But whatever, ask and you shall receive I guess.

                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                    One local store always gives a (free) slice of cheese to a kid young enough to sit on the counter while mom is checking out. I think it's a nice gesture. My daughter once pointed at the cheese in the case and asked me for a slice. The owner was behind the counter, and gave her two slices.

                                                                                                                                                    But when it's not the owner or manager behind the counter I Wouldn't ask only if I'm buying a large quantity. Two examples- was buying deli meat for a party (8lbs total). I asked the mAn behind the counter (employee) if I could get any type of discount. He brought out the manager, who agreed without hesitation, and also threw in a bit extra.

                                                                                                                                                    Another time, I was ordering 10lbs of fried chicken. The employee behind the counter let me know that if I were to order 12lbs he could give me a substantial discount since it would be considered catering.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                      great customer relations. he took the time and effort to give you a discount you didn't know about. i know that if i were you, i'd be a loyal customer after that.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                        I am most definitely a loyal customer. The takeout and bakery guys know me well and always wave. Recently was picking up a roll of sushi, when my daughter asked for chicken nuggets. Deli guy walked out from behind the counter with a piece in a container and handed it to her.

                                                                                                                                                        Yes, it's a small market. But things like this keep me going back

                                                                                                                                                  2. Reminds me of the scene in "Blues Brothers" where John Belushi is trying to buy the young daughters of the family eating at the next table.

                                                                                                                                                    What the hell, it never hurts to ask.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I realize this about roast beef at the deli. *but* what if you were in line at the seafood place. $4.00 off per pound for lobsters, shrimp etc for the customer in front of you? Something tells me there might be a big old up cry here..:-)

                                                                                                                                                      1. Obviously not with roast beef, but with larger purchases a (3%) discount in exchange for paying cash instead of credit cards is pretty common.

                                                                                                                                                        While not quite haggling I have approached small businesses such as a cake maker who had a minimum for orders and said here is my budget, here is what I need, can you accomodate and never once has a business been unable to accommodate, so, it never hurts to ask and can be a win-win.

                                                                                                                                                        My grandmother who spent much time in actual Turkish bazaars was the type who assumed no price was set in stone. I feel like at certain markets or with nonstandard volume purchases a discount can be worth asking for but for regular shopping the haggle is just not worth the hassle.

                                                                                                                                                        I also find that retailers offer me coupons in stores so I can see how someone might just ask about a discount if they know a store has such a practice. At bath and body works I now always ask if they have coupons because while they don't outwardly offer them they are always available at the counter but don't offer at checkout, you have to ask.

                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: olyolyy

                                                                                                                                                          As can probably be seen in my previous posts, I'm pretty pro-haggling as long as you acknowledge that you may ruffle the feathers of those with you. However - my grandfather (US born to German/Russian immigrants if that means anything) would always haggle the issue of "if I pay with cash instead of credit card, what deal will you give me" in restaurants after the bill came.

                                                                                                                                                          By my "rules" of haggling, I think that all's fair before you order - but after you've ordered a meal and eaten it, to then debate the price. Sigh. Anyways, the issue of cash/credit card at restaurants always got him a discount. Though I suppose at that point in his life, he had already discarded going to restaurants that wouldn't give him that deal.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: olyolyy

                                                                                                                                                            I only became aware of the cash vs credit discount a few years ago; if I remember it, I will ask for my 3% discount only on larger purchases.

                                                                                                                                                            I've since told some friends about it, but they've been too uncomfortable to ask for it.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Custardly

                                                                                                                                                              Yeah - in Jerusalem some places will give as high as a 10% discount for cash/credit, but they totally rely on people not asking for it.

                                                                                                                                                              That being said, being thrown into a market place where I'd say haggling is present in a 50-50 realm - it's been an interesting learning curve.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Custardly

                                                                                                                                                                Custimarily the vendor initiates a cash discount, or it will say it on the invoice. Gas stations often advertise a lower "cash price" as well. I've also seen discounts for paying before a bill is due.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: olyolyy

                                                                                                                                                                  In some states, a cash discount is illegal as it could also be considered a "credit card charge"

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                                                                                    Credit card charges are now legal from what I understand.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: olyolyy


                                                                                                                                                                My husband always asks about discounts/coupons at one local home goods store because they keep them at the register. Not in sight of customers mind you, but by the register in case someone asks!

                                                                                                                                                                A few years ago we were making a large purchase at a big box electronics retailer and my husband asked the clerk "Now what can you do for me since I am spending this much money in one transaction and we are good customers here?" The young man replied without any hesitation that he was only authorized to discount blah blah percentage and he would get a manager to see if they could do better. My husband didn't ask for more than what the young man could give, he just offered so it must not be as uncommon as you would think. We were given a substantial discount on our purchase and we spend money there all the time (two teen boys and a husband who likes electronics). Do I feel like I cheated the corporation? No. Do I feel like I cheated the customers "in line behind" me? No. Nothing keeps them from asking the same question we did. All managers have a certain amount of discretion and it seems that a discounted purchase is better than no purchase at all. I would never ask for a discount on a $20 DVD and neither would my bargain hunter husband but in some cases I think it can't hurt to ask especially when making a large purchase (volume or price).

                                                                                                                                                              3. I would say more power to him...the gent who asked for and obtained a discount. I think it is smart to negotiate the price in order to be able to enjoy more expensive items that may otherwise be "off limits/not in the budget". It sounds as if he did it with finesse and impeccable manners too. I have only witnessed people doing price negotiating on food items@ our farmers markets where the vendors are usually so customer friendly and generous to begin with. I hope the dude enjoyed his sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I've worked in groceries and while it isn't common for a customer to ask for a discount it does happen once in a while. Usually the request is tied to quantity purchase, scratch and dent or being close to date. All of which are reasonable times to make a polite request.

                                                                                                                                                                  The response is going to vary - there are a myriad of considerations. If the request is rude, loud or insulting of the product it usually is not going to be granted.

                                                                                                                                                                  If there is a rational to the request it very well might. For example, brand X yogurt has just been restocked. There are one or two containers of older stock left in several flavors. If a customer gathered the older stock (which still has date left) and quietly/politely approached the clerk or person stocking there is an excellent chance they would discount it. Why? Because the average customer is going to skip the older product and reach behind to choose the newer. Even if they are going to eat the yogurt for lunch immediately after purchase! It's just human nature. So the store would often rather sell these at a discount rather than having them go out of date and become shrink.

                                                                                                                                                                  Now a loud request for a discount on the dozen brand new batch of blueberry yogurt is going to be a "no". Why? Firstly it was loud and in front of other customers. Secondly the stock has plenty of sell date. Thirdly to sell it all at once inconveniences other customers and even if reordered there will still be a big empty gap on the shelf.

                                                                                                                                                                  Who is authorized to discount varies from company to company. Staff generally is very well aware of their departments margins. Margins vary greatly by department and are largely tied to perish-ability. If it is a seasoned staff member they probably can make that call.

                                                                                                                                                                  As an aside, I suspect this sort of scenario is going to increase. Several big box stores have advertised that they will meet any competitors price and you see folks scanning everything with their smart phones in order to request the difference. I would hate like hell to be in line behind the person who wants a dozen nickle adjustments on their order. Personally I don't worry about small variances in price - I figure it averages out over time.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                    These are really interesting points and more than anything else I think points to how manners/customs are more important than whether haggling or not haggling is a custom. Ultimately, I think most haggling/bargaining/dealing is about trying to establish a relationship with the vendor so that it makes people feel more familiar and likely to want to "be nice/do you a favor" etc. (even if the end result is still selling/buying). And you're far more likely to establish that dynamic with someone if you approach them in a manner that they perceive as appropriate.

                                                                                                                                                                    The style associated (and definitely done) with haggling in the Middle East/Turkish baazar is acceptable to be done with raised voices/shouting. It's not the only means, and even still it's not considered appropriate in all business negotiation situations in the region.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Oh dear. That was a rude man.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. The replies in this discussion have drifted widely from the original topic, and are getting pretty far afield for Chowhound. We're going to lock this discussion now.