Should You Lie to Get a Discount?

by Kevin on March 25, 2009

Earlier this week I wrote you a step-by-step guide showing you how to ask for a service discount. In this post I am going to take more of a devil’s advocate mentality. In other words this post doesn’t necessarily reflect how I feel.

On Monday I wrote from the perspective that you had a legitimate concern or problem with the service you were paying for. You can leverage your complaint into a nice discount. That makes sense. You’re paying for a service. The service doesn’t work or doesn’t work well. Calling customer service should result in you getting a discount for putting up with bad service.

What if you are really unhappy with the service? What if you feel like you are getting taken advantage of? Should you lie to get some sort of discount?

Marketing Lies

Let’s be honest. Most of the advertising you see out in the world is a lie. Sometimes it is a hidden lie with some sort of catch just to get you into the store. Best Buy is being sued in a class action lawsuit for telling employees to avoid price matching products at all costs. This despite all of Best Buy’s commercials telling about their price match guarantee. Despite the giant signs you see inside the store to get you to buy the product.

But other times the marketing department of the firm just flat out lies to you. They over-promise and under-deliver. Their product will cure you of all of your ailements even though it is just an air mattress. It’ll cure cancer, help you sleep better at night, and make your dog behave. It’s the perfect product!

At the end of the day many of these large megacorporations have lost their way. They could care less about the customer — you are just a number, remember — and will do anything including lying to increase sales.

If they lie to you…

…then isn’t it “fair” to lie right back to them about a problem in order to get a discount? The firm lies to get you in the door, lies to get you to buy the product, and lies when they can’t price match or offer better service.

Aren’t you free to complain at will to get them to take your product back or swap out that cellphone that you dropped (but now mysteriously is having overheating battery problems)? All is fair in love and war, right?

And should you do this only for large companies instead of the small business owner that is a member of your community?

Have you ever lied when returning or swapping out a product at a store? Do you think it is okay to lie to the store?


Nate @ Debt-free Scholar March 25, 2009 at 8:30 am

Thankfully, I have never lied when returning or swapping an item. I think that lies are destructive and should never be used to save money.


Matt SF March 25, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I would argue that while we are a number, we’re viewed more as a “potential nuisance” b/c once we sign that contract… we’re screwed.

Since I love getting into the debating game with CSRs, I’ve been accused of trying to commit fraud to a potential breach of contract in trying to get Company XYZ to follow their contracts to the letter. After a month of harassing them, I usually get a courteous senior manager to give me what I want. It’s all a dance and you just have to know the steps.

While I’ve never lied when returning a product, but I don’t see the harm in lying to an organization who feeds you false promises. If the game is unfair, I don’t have a problem readjusting the rules so it’s fair for everyone playing.

Trevor @ Financial Nut March 25, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I never agree with out right lying; however, it is tempting sometimes! 🙂

B7 March 25, 2009 at 8:32 pm

No. Not even to get a discount!

CS March 26, 2009 at 9:08 am

Every person is accountable for their own actions:raising children,paying debts,etc. So what is justifiable? Road rage, lying, stealing while no one is watching, cheating? Every one of us knows better.

AN August 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

I run an internet software company… We have heard every lie in the book and every excuse. Last week we had a customer call in and said their data was stolen from a data center and he wanted a backup copy. We found out that his business partner had broken ties with him and kept his software. I am really sick of what customers have turned into… We’ve seen an increase of this type of customer since the economic downfall…. In my opinion, it’s this type of customer who is responsible for the downfall to begin with…

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