Price Discounts: Can You Ask Friends for Deals Where They Work?

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Navigating asking for discounts where a friend works can feel like walking on a tightrope. Is it ever OK to ask? Or should you just assume you should pay full price?

To answer this question, we turned to etiquette experts to share their insights since this situation can be delicate. When considering whether to ask a friend for a discount, it’s important to evaluate the situation and be understanding of the different responses you might receive. Let’s take a look at how best to navigate this tricky situation.

Avoid Asking If You Can

“Asking your friend to purchase an item with her employee discount could put her in an awkward position and might jeopardize her job,” said Arden Clise, business etiquette and customer service trainer at Clise Etiquette. “Some companies have a strict policy that their discount is only for employees. At the very least, your request asks a lot of your friend who has to purchase the item and wait to be reimbursed. It’s best not to ask.”

Before putting your friend in an uncomfortable position, take a few minutes to do your own research on the business’ sales and discounts.

“There are plenty of opportunities to find publicly distributed discounts for many businesses, and you should not burden your friend or friendship by asking for financial gain,” said Jennifer Porter, an etiquette and manners expert with Satsuma Designs.

If the business where your friend works is out of your price range, don’t be afraid to show support in other ways. Help out the business by writing a positive review, liking and commenting on the business’ social media site and recommending the business to your friends and family. Word of mouth and engagement goes a long way.

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What If Your Friend Works for a Company That Has a Friends and Family Discount?

Clise adds that while in most situations, she doesn’t advise people to ask their friends for discounts, there is one exception.

“If the company has well-known friends and family discounts, like Microsoft, and you are a close friend, asking for a discount is acceptable,” Clise said. “If your friend hesitates or says no, do not push. Understand some companies limit the number of discounts each employee is granted. Your pal may have used their allotment.”

Here’s How To Respectfully Ask For a Discount

In this period of rising inflation, asking for a discount can be more appealing than ever. While experts don’t recommend asking for a discount from a friend, if it feels appropriate in the situation, be sure to do so in a polite manner. Remember that your friend’s business is likely also struggling with rising prices and may not be able to afford a discount.

When asking for a discount, be sure to only ask for a small reduction in price — a good general rule of thumb is no more than 10% off. A great way to initiate the conversation is to go into the establishment, display your enthusiasm for the products and ask if any sales are going on. If there are any sales going on already, make sure to take note of what the establishment is already offering as far as discounts go before asking for any additional savings. If no sales are going on, this is a great opportunity to ask your friend if they offer any friend discounts. Make sure to be kind and respectful when asking, and continue supporting your friend’s business even if they cannot offer you a discount.

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If You’re Asked For a Discount, Here’s How To Politely Decline

In some situations, you may be on the receiving end of a friend asking you for a discount where you work. If you need to turn someone down, keep it brief and professional.

“If a friend or acquaintance asks for a discount in a retail setting at the moment of transaction, be honest and direct and say, ‘I’m so sorry, but my manager doesn’t allow me to offer discounts,'” Porter said. “Remember, you can always blame it on the boss! Or, [if you can offer a discount say], ‘Yes, I’d be happy to use some of my discount quotas to make your day brighter!’ — if that’s true.”

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