I will scrap over a nickel if I think I'm getting screwed on purpose. I call the cable company, the heating company, the credit card company - everybody. Especially when there is a late fee. I get my man about 50-75% of the time.
I told D - sometimes if you contest these things, you'll get your money back or get a late fee reversed. It's always worth asking. He SWEARS up and down that that doesn't work in Holland and it embarrasses the hell out of him when I do it. "That's not how we do things here. Companies don't give you breaks because they don't care." There is also so little competition (there is one heating company in my town with a full monopoly) that you can never threaten to go elsewhere with your business.Sure, he complains about it, but then secretly brags to his friends about things like this and how they end like this when I'm in charge...)
My tact is always just to wear them down with my whining so they give me a discount to get me to shut up. I have TOTALLY lost any pride I had about these things when I had kids and started struggling. Especially a couple years ago when we were really broke and D was unemployed. I have stopped giving a flying fuck about what people think. It's a little alarming, but sort of liberating too. (My 20-year-old self would be mortified by my self of today.)
I remember in my father's clothing store, people used to ask me for discounts all the time. I would be polite, but sneer inwardly thinking "what a cheapskate." My dad was the world's greatest negotiator, and when I told him it made me feel stupid to argue about a few bucks, he'd always say "whose pocket is it better in - yours or theirs?"
Dutch people are notoriously frugal - why the F don't they ask for discounts? I got 79 euros off the new mattress that I bought this week. OK, compared to the total bill, it was a drop in the bucket, but if I found 79 euros on the street, I'd fucking pick it up. Wouldn't you?
Of course, I will also spend 200 euros on something worth 100 euros if I really, really want it. That's my cross to bear. Good thing I got that discount, huh?!