Getting the best price

Posted September 7th, 2005 by Penny Wise

Another busy week and not a particularly economical one either in some areas, but even with some big expenses, I have still managed to save. Firstly, my online auction updates. I have now raised more than enough to pay for my floor in full, without having to touch my bank account, yippee! It took so little effort too - remember the perfume I listed for $1.00? It ended up selling for $73! Unfortunately, it now looks as though I am going to have to replace another floor. Liam's pride and joy is his Fox Terrier puppy, Hubble. He worked really hard to earn his puppy and the responsibility has been great for him. He feeds him, cares for him, sleeps with him and the two of them are just inseparable. Because he gets such a huge amount of attention, Hubble has always been very obedient and easy to train. Which is why I couldn't understand it when Hubble turned a year old last week and decided to celebrate his birthday by ripping up my lounge carpet in the space of about ten minutes while I was picking the boys up from school. I mean, ripping it up a LOT. 'Does that mean Hubble can't have a birthday present now?' asked Liam innocently. You're dead right there matey! We covered the offending area up with a mat, but even Noel said there was no denying that we were going to have to shop around for a new carpet. He would say that, as he never liked the old, worn patterned carpet anyway, but I was hoping to hold off for a couple more years until the boys get beyond the 'spilling' stage. So, another new challenge prevents itself - I wonder how much it's going to be this time?

Not that I'm too worried about being able to get the best bargain, I've already proved it can be done this week! Come to think of it, that expense was all down to pets as well; in this case Ali's tropical fish. The tank set up was already some years old when we bought it (the lady we bought it from had been keeping tropicals for 23 years) and had been increasingly showing signs of wear and tear over the past few months. In addition, some of the fish were just getting too darn big and cleaning the tank was becoming very stressful for them - not to mention me! Last week, when our prize specimen Bala shark leapt out of the tank and tried to flip-flop itself under the TV cabinet to the point of no return (surrounded by six salivating cats) was the last straw. It was time to get a new tank. First rule is of course to SHOP AROUND, and I did this feverishly, scouring online auctions and trading magazines for a week, but nothing really suited - they were too big, too small, too old, too far or damaged. Nothing in the second hand department, I was going to have to buy a new one. However, instead of heading for the pet shop, I headed for the Vault! I remembered a hint by Rob McGlinn that gave really clear and concise instructions about getting the best price on large purchases. In fact, Rob even gave an example of the letter that he uses to fax to companies when getting a quote. I dug out the hint, copied and pasted the text into a Word document and changed a few words to suit my fish tank requirements. I stated the exact model I wanted, and a series of criteria that had to be met. Being about the least assertive person on the planet, this letter was far stronger than anything I would ever have used before and I found being so commanding rather nervewracking! But, the customer is always right, I told myself as I printed off the letter and proceeded to fax it to every pet and aquarium supplier I could find listed.

It didn't take long for replies to come in and I was amazed at the varied quotes for the same model. I had also asked for a delivery quote and this ranged from anywhere between $20 to $150 - even though the locations were all about the same distance apart from me! I waited for all the quotes to be received back and, thanks to following Rob's advice I saved a massive $436! Before, I would never have even shopped around for a fish tank before, let alone dreamed of saving over $400 on one! Rob's hint is too long to print here, but if you are planning any large purchases, go to the Vault, find it and use it. The important thing to remember is to follow his rules - that means using a fax only to communicate with the stores, do not provide your phone number. They only have one chance to give you their best price. Thanks Rob, you're a legend! I wonder how much I'll be able to save on my carpet now?

P.S. Ali and I released his beloved frogs into the wild at the weekend in an emotional pond-side ceremony. While I shall sincerely miss them, I won't miss the $28 per month they cost us to keep in flies...

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