Secret deals you have to ask for  


By Liz Pulliam Weston

Not every great deal is heavily advertised.

Some bargains are deliberately kept off the menu, available only to those who know to ask. A company may have decided the deal wasn't profitable but doesn't want to alienate long-term customers by eliminating it.

Other times, the company's advertising priorities have changed, orphaning the discount. It's not exactly a secret, but it's easy to miss.

Then again, some companies engage in "product sabotage," according to Tim Harford, the author of "The Undercover Economist." They'll "hide items, package them to look unattractive or even damage them," Harford said, as IBM did when the company installed a chip into the bargain version of its LaserWriter printer to slow it down.

"Product sabotage is designed to dissuade the big spenders. They want the best and don't want to waste time sniffing out hidden discounts," Harford explained. "Committed bargain hunters, in contrast, won't be put off by a hard-to-find deal."

Here are a few you might not know about:

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