Make Your Own Instant Substitution When A Sale Item Runs Out

What happens if you make a special trip to a store to buy a sale item, but by the time you get there the item is all gone? You could pout and go home. You could buy a similar item that isn’t on sale. Or you could fight the power and try to get a discount on a similar item.

There’s a traditional solution to this dilemma, the raincheck. That entitles you to get the sale item at the sale price whenever the store gets it back in stock. There’s an alternative, though: you can ask for a discount on a similar substitute item.

Target does this pre-emptively, something we’ve made fun of in the past. Over at our sibling publication, Consumer Reports, Anthony Giorgianni shared his tale of how a local grocery store ran out of store-brand peanuts that were on sale. “I asked a store employee if I could substitute the Planters 12-ounce can on sale at $3.49,” he explains. “No problem, he said, arranging for me to buy the brand-name product at the lower price.”

Okay, not everyone wants to wrangle managers in order to save a dollar on peanuts. When you’re buying large quantities or pricier items, this tactic might be worth your while. Worst-case scenario? You can get a rain check if the retailer offers one, and somehow move on without the item if it doesn’t.

Save money even when a sale item is out of stock [Consumer Reports]