The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Miss Manners: Manager asked for proof of competitor’s price to give discount

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: While shopping for furniture, I learned that one local store offered a deeper discount off the manufacturer’s price than another: 25 percent vs. 20 percent. The difference on what I was considering buying amounted to about $600.

While at the more expensive store, I asked if they would match the price at the other store. The manager said I would have to present her with written proof of the competitor's price before she would match it.

I saw this as extremely rude. First and foremost, I was offended that the proprietor didn’t take me at my word. And even if she wanted to verify my claim, she could have done it easily (and out of my earshot) by making a call to the store herself.

Although I had been ready to buy from the more expensive store, I changed my mind. I told my sales associate that I didn’t like being told that I might be lying.

My husband says my response was “harsh.” Was I too sensitive, and wrong to be offended?

Yes, because, Miss Manners assures you, your honor was not at stake. This was a professional transaction and it was legitimate for the store to have asked you for proof.

We have all made the societal agreement that bargaining and advertising are held to a looser standard of truth in business. Otherwise we would all be calling a certain chicken restaurant a liar if we did not always lick our fingers after eating there.

Dear Miss Manners: I am a disabled veteran and also receive Social Security disability assistance. I am not employed due to the difficulties of my disabilities.

When meeting new people, I inevitably get the “Where do you work?” question. I often say that I don’t, that I am taking a break or that I am retired.

My dilemma is that I wish to be honest; however, I value my privacy and don’t wish to discuss my disabilities. Is it appropriate to just tell people that I am retired? I look like a healthy person who has not yet reached retirement age, but I struggle with severe mental health issues. Worrying about how to respond to people’s endless questions just causes me more anxiety.

“I am a retired veteran.” At which point their reflex will kick in to thank you for your service and — Miss Manners hopes — show some sensitivity by not prodding further.

Dear Miss Manners: Is there a proper, or at least not insulting, way to ask about a man’s cologne?

There is a new hire in our office who is about my husband’s age. He wears the most wonderful-smelling cologne, and I would love to purchase some for my husband for his birthday. How can I ask what the name of it is without coming across as flirty or pushy?

“I think my husband would love your cologne. Do you mind my asking its name?”

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin