A few weeks ago my electric hot water maker died. I've had it for years and loved it so much. I use it nightly to make my tea (you may recall from previous posts just HOW MUCH tea I actually have.) Anyway, while most normal people would drive over to the local Walmart or Target and pick up a new one (they are only about $20-something dollars, after all), me being very frugal decided to write a letter to Hamilton Beach, the parent company of the Proctor Silex hot water maker I own. Here was my letter:
Dear Hamilton Beach,
I am sad to report that my loyal, favorite hot water maker (Proctor Silex) has pooped out on me for the last time. I love this kettle because of its reliability and the long cord, and I can't find another like it. It started to die a while ago but I was always able to get it working again by wiggling and jiggling the cord each time until the light finally came on. Sometimes I would have to prop the cord up with something under it so the power would stay on. It became a nightly (fun) challenge to find what item to put under the cord that was the right height that would keep the light on. But last weekend, the wiggling and jiggling and cord gymnastics stopped working. And thus, I had to warm up my water in the dirty microwave instead.
I'm wondering if you have replacement cords? I love my kettle and am sad to see it go.
No tea for me,
I am happy to report that Hamilton Beach provided me with a 30% off coupon towards a new hot water maker.
Also a few weeks ago, my Otterbox case for my iPhone started to break. I've had the case since February 2011 and surely didn't expect that contacting Otterbox about it would do any good. WRONG.
Upon reading my letter, even advising them that I purchased the case almost 2 years ago, they had me send them a picture of the damaged case. Then they sent me an email saying a new case would be shipped. BOOM. I received my new Otterbox case about a week later. I sent them a thank you letter!
The point of sharing these seemingly-unrelated-to-anything stories is that it never hurts to ask. I would never lie to get something for free, because I have strict morals about that and think that's wrong. But there's nothing wrong (in my humble opinion) in asking to see if they would be willing to help you with whatever your situation is.
When I had my spinal cord injury this summer and was laid up without any income, I sat in my cervical collar in a bed 24/7 and watched my medical bills pile up with no money to pay them. Then one day I decided to contact the two health systems I owed the most money to and ask if they had any sort of patient finance programs to help those in 'tight spots' financially. Both did. What I hoped for was that they could lower my monthly payments or write off a small portion of my bill; making it more affordable for me to pay it off. I went through their internal application process, in which I had to prove my income (or lack thereof), provide proof of hardship (easy with all the medical bills I was accumulating), and write a letter explaining my hardship. The health systems decide if- and how much- they are willing to assist, based on your hardship. In my case, both health systems decided I qualified to have the entire amounts I owed written off; one wrote off $1600.00 as long as I paid them $200.00 over the course of 6 months (in $33.50 installments), and the other health system wrote off the entire $1800.00 bill due to providing evidence of severe hardship. I now owe them zero and am $3400.00 less in debt than I would have been had I never inquired about their programs.
Clinics and hospitals offer programs out there specifically to help those who are in tight financial spots. Don't be afraid to inquire if you are one of those people. They understand that people fall on hard times and need help paying their medical bills. In my case, I had been making high monthly payments to both of them for over a year and could no longer continue to make those payments once I was unable to work.
So again, my point is that it never hurts to ask, whether it's your favorite tea kettle that just died on you, or whether you are in dire straights financially due to loads of medical debt. Don't try to tackle more than you are able. See what resources the clinics/hospitals might be able to offer you. These are not state-programs; these are exclusively offered by the health systems as part of a budget they set aside to assist patients experiencing hardships, so don't feel bad about it!
I hope that this information has been useful to you. If you have any stories you'd like to share about a time when you asked for something - and got it - I'd love to hear it!