Sometimes it pays to just ask
This may seem like a rather ridiculous post, but I think other people might be able to benefit from it. This isn’t a paid advertisement, and in fact I’m not so sure they want people to know about this option, but hey — here it goes.
This started with furniture. When I moved to San Diego, I didn’t have a whole lot of options when it came to furniture. I wasn’t willing to spend a lot of money at first; furniture is an auxiliary concern when you’re dead broke (and I really was – I lived on ramen noodles and the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches they sometimes provided at work). I also came here with what could fit in the car (and a whole seat of that space was devoted to my passenger), and that certainly didn’t allow for much furniture. I opted to bring a stability ball for desk seating; it was collapsible, easy to pack, and good for posture.
Except there was one problem.
I somehow lost the plug that would keep the ball inflated. I couldn’t seem to find a replacement plug at the store or athletic shops (“Well, you’ll just have to buy another ball,” they told me). That left me to look online.
I found plenty of stability ball plugs online. They were decently cheap, too. I thought it would be just that easy — they only cost $1 (way inflated for what they are, but not a big deal) and couldn’t be difficult to ship. I’d have a ‘chair’ again with the click of a button and a few days’ wait.
Uh, not so fast. Turns out not a whole lot of sites don’t offer decent shipping for even the smallest or cheapest items. $10 ground shipping for a $1 item? Certainly I could order a few more stoppers than that, but is $13 really worth it? I just wanted a few lousy plugs so I could sit at my desk.
After scouring the web, all I could find was a set of 3 at Gaiam.com (an awesome Boulder company!) for something like $5. Sounded great, so I ordered them — but when I received them, they weren’t the right ones at all. They were special to a particular ball and wouldn’t work for mine (nor for most stability balls). I decided just to put up with sitting on a Rubbermaid container (which later broke beyond repair and forced me to get an actual chair).
Well, now that I’m past my super-broke days (and have furniture again), I wanted to do something with the stability ball, but still didn’t want to pay $10 in shipping. I renewed my search and couldn’t find anything else new that didn’t cost an arm and a leg (relatively) to ship — so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to pick up the phone and try to get better shipping.
Turns out it only took one call. I called Sportsmith.net, spoke to a representative, and asked about shipping.
“I only want a few of these things and I don’t want to pay $10 for shipping,” I told her. “That’s kind of high for three bucks worth of an order.”
“Well, we can send it uncertified,” she replied. As if that’s some kind of concern. I mean, really, I’m just spending $3 on product here. “And that’ll cost you $2.”
For 60¢ in postage? Instead of $10? Sure.
And that was it. That’s all it took. The stability ball plugs came in the mail five days later and now I have a functioning exercise ball again. The best part? It was way easier than I thought it would be. I hardly had to bargain, only had to push a few buttons (literal buttons, not figurative), and probably spent three minutes on the phone.
Moral of the story? Sometimes you just need to ask. Turns out some places are willing to work with you if you just pick up the phone and talk to somebody. Or, ya know, don’t lose stuff in the first place.