A few weeks ago, I stopped into Chili's with a friend for a beer. I noticed a wine store next door called “Grape Escape” (no web site to link to but they are in Crossroads Shopping Center) and loving wine as much as I do, I went inside. Just to look around of course. They do tastings as well. If you are looking for Pacific Northwest wines, this place has a great selection. I tend to go for a hodge-podge of wine selections...mostly Italian, Australian and Californian. I picked out a few bottles that sounded interesting. I'm beyond that point where “two buck chuck” is palatable. I had progressed through the $10 bottles and am buying a lot of $20 bottles (and some $50 bottles but not too many) now that I know what I like and I know what to look for. And I am enjoying wine a lot more.

So when I saw that Grape Escape had Marquis Phillips Shiraz on special I was pretty excited. It's one of my favorites. I decided to go for a case of it because you get a 10% case discount (like at most places). As I was paying, I handed the guy my business card so he could call me when my case was in (he had to order it) and then he said “Oh, you work at Microsoft? You get a 15% discount!”. He adjusted my bill to reflect the change.

A lot of places around here give discounts to Microsoft employees. We just have to show them our “Prime Card” which is a credit card looking thing issued to each and every full-time employee here. We get regular e-mail updates on which retailers are offering us discounts.

You hear a lot about the free soda here, but I am more excited about the free wine (OK, it's just discounted, but if you buy enough, it's like getting free bottles). Here are some other things we get discounts on:

wine.com, lots of home and DIY type of retailers (carpet and flooring, Jacuzzis, kitchen and bath designers, closet factory, etc), PetSmart (and lots of other pet related businesses), LoveSac (I saved big money on mine!),ShoeFly (Great funky shoes located in Bellevue Square and greenlake), clothing (like Spiegel and Coldwater Creek), Barnes and Noble, wireless service. Tully's coffee, flowers, lots and lots of restaurants.

I could keep going on but the list is huge. I have to keep reminding myself to ask places I frequent if they take the prime card. Often retailers will have a sign in their window to draw in MS employees. It's great to have enough purchasing power as a company that we are offered these benefits and I don't know many other companies that do this or have as extensive a list of retail partners. I think it's pretty cool.

Maybe some other Microsoft employees will post comments here to tell you how they have used their prime card to save money.