The Manufactured Spending Tip That Unlocks Everything

There have been a few posts about playing the store and not the game that lodged into my head. Milenomics posted it once on his blog and again in his interview on Saverocity for #milemadness. We’ve also seen it on MilesAbound where he titles it as his best secret to Manufactured Spending.

I will add to their collective wisdom and write that, “please” and “thank you” go very very far. I also would include a “hi” to acknowledge their presence.

Here are my experiences of how being polite will work in your favor:

I’ll start off with my bad experience:

  • I walked into a Duane Reade I don’t frequent and I wanted to buy a OneVanilla with credit. The mistake I made was trying to pay with an American Express gift card. They quickly shot it down with a “you can’t buy a gift card with a gift card”

The good experiences:

  • Build a rapport at the store and the customer service reps
  • Once the store knows you, you can get away with a lot of things. In my daily routine, I swing by the CVS and purchase OneVanilla cards with the American Express gift card and they don’t bat an eyelash. We’re on a first name basis
  • Having visited the check cashing place multiple times and knowing the procedure, the clerks know me as the guy always using a debit card. They no longer ask to verify my ID or the debit card being used

That being said, outside of robbing the store or breaking any laws, I can get away with everything because of being polite. If we can’t teach you to be humble, respectful, and not act like the original poster in this FT thread then manufactured spending is not going to be easy.



6 comments… add one
  • Couldn’t agree more. My pet peeve x 10.

    Banks have a “know your customer” responsibility. A good MSer “knows their cashiers”. Chat them up. Ask how their day is going. What they’ve got planned for the weekend/trip whatever. Deprecatingly joke about your crazy point addiction and the lengths you go to see the world (NEVER say you are doing it for cash back – they are minimum wage slaves and bragging about making “thousands” will jade even the most helpful cashier).

    Don’t show up with fistfuls of gcs and just pound away because YOU want to “be efficient” with your time. Be gracious, stop and let others go ahead (especially if you see they just want to return 1 item or something simple). If you act like a demanding, impatient self absorbed asshole (which are way too common now that VRs can’t be bought and dirtbags show up to load their BBs) you will get unhelpful and resentful service which will then get communicated to management and kill the goose with the golden egg. Act graciously/patiently and you’ll be “the good guy” and you won’t be grilled like a criminal, but treated as a friend, with a smile and a helpful attitude (essential when you shade the lines).

    Frankly, I wish bloggers would repeatedly mention this as one of the most essential tools in a MSers arsenal of tools. Thanks for highlighting this. Hope this is a topic that gets lots of attention at DOs.

    • Paul, that raises some great points I didn’t bring up, the fistful of gc’s and not caring about your surroundings. That annoys everyone, including the CSR.

  • Being nice works for everything, not just your manufactured spending routines. Sometimes I need to return items and the majority of the other customers in the lines will berate the store employees about their service. I say Hi, smile, often apologize for the customer before them and then let them give me possible options.

    It’s often faster, I get the same or a better outcome and I also know I haven’t ruined some poor clerks day. Being nice & smiling is a way of life and you’ll feel much better once you start doing it.

    Thanks for the post, CTP! 😀

    • Will, you’re right. Milenomics and I shot off a couple of emails, about it, and it should be for everything/everywhere, not limited to MS.

  • Hmmm. Cannot say I am a big fan of the title. Being polite and curtious are things I would not scoff at, but I cannot say the same about this post.

    • It was more of a tongue in cheek title for being polite and what you could leverage. Bill paying in Manhattan is difficult and being nice to the reps, go a long way to making the transaction a little more pleasant


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