Deal hoppers know how frustrating it can be to scout out a bargain only to find none left at the store. We all expect it during Black Friday--it's a given that one lucky dude will get a flat screen 46" for $99, but the rest of us know that deal won't go beyond the one transaction. When it comes to $.49/lb. chicken breasts, the claws come out.
There are several ways to score a rain check. If this will be the first time you request one, resist feeling like a leech. The company has a responsibility to extend the deal to you at a later date--otherwise they are bordering on deceitful advertising. You can usually score rain checks for these popular items:
Advertised grocery store sales. These must be clearly stated in a mail out or online. Pay attention to dates and always read the fine print.
New releases at the video store. If a new rental is advertised as "guaranteed in stock" many companies, like Blockbuster, offer a free rental of that title when it is back in stock. The rain check is only issued for that movie, not for a general rental.
Car wash followed by a rainy day. Very few individuals are thrifty enough to collect it. They chalk up $10 to an oops on their part and end up with a beaded exterior.
There are a few things to keep in mind before marching up to customer service and demanding an extension for the deal:
1. Always bring the ad with you. Yes, this is a pain, but if you truly want to save cash, have evidence of it to save the hassle. If you plan on leaving the negotiation to your $7/hour checker, good luck. They probably don't have comprehensive knowledge of every deal offered. Make it easier on yourself and bring it.
2. Ask a manager or customer service to contact other stores to locate products. Especially with produce, some parts of the country aren't shipped the same goods. Management can pull some strings to get the product especially shipped to your local store.
3. Ask for a rain check and (most likely) you shall receive. To protect the consumer from false advertising, grocery stores must provide a rain check unless they can prove that they adequately prepared and stocked for the promotion. If they don't restock within your rain check expiration date, just have a friendly chat with the manager and work out a deal. Most are more than willing to comply with savvy, polite shoppers.
4. Keep in mind that the rain check only offers the same deal to you, the consumer, when the store has restocked. You are not promised anything for free. Some stores, like Albertson's, require that you redeem the check at that specific store. Check expiration dates, as some are limited to 7 days.
5. Ask how many items you can purchase at rain check price and get it in writing. Some will allow one while others don't have a limit. If you need to buy in bulk this can be a huge savings since limits are generally imposed during the promotion.
The most vital tip is to actually redeem the rain check. If you let it expire on the fridge or file it in some nebulous folder, all that work was wasted. Rain or shine you'll reap big savings with a little haggling power.