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Beware of the Upsell

Before my husband left for a 5 week business trip to India, someone kindly gave us a gift card for a steak dinner. Not ones to turn down a steak, we went. We’re not huge eaters. We simply wanted a basic steak dinner. My husband ordered a drink. I ordered water, not to be cheap but because I felt like water.

“Bottled or seltzer?”, our pleasant server asks.

“Just tap water is fine, thanks.”

“For an appetizer?”

“I think the classic dinner would be plenty, thanks.”

“Would you like a side caesar salad with that? An extra helping of vegetables?”

“No, thanks.”

“Could we please just have two classic steak dinners, medium rare?”

“Would you like to ‘Keg Size’ your steaks?”

At this point it’s getting ridiculous. I want to say, “Look lady. I’m not trying to be cheap. We don’t eat that much food. What we ordered is more than enough.”

I take a deep breath. This woman after all will be left alone with my food at some point. I don’t want to tick her off.

“No thank-you. Eight ounces is plenty.”

I couldn’t even finish my whole meal. When the server arrived to clear our plates, she said, “I’ll bring you the dessert menu. Will you have coffee with your dessert?”

I know it’s her job to upsell. I imagine it works for a lot of people, especially once they’ve had a few drinks and their inhibitions are down.

It seems everywhere I go these days, I’m being sold on something else. Recently I needed a new watch battery. It was $10 installed. The salesperson offered to sell me an extended warranty for $3. A warranty on a watch battery!

Upselling works on assumption. They assume I want something I had no intention of buying. The server was well trained. She didn’t ask if I wanted to pay for my water. She assumed I did and needed to clarify whether I wanted to pay for bottled or seltzer. She assumed we’d want drinks and appetizers, a side salad and dessert. In contradicting her assumptions, I was put in the position of correcting her which made me feel uncomfortable and put me on the defensive. I imagine it works for a lot of people, especially people who are more open to the powers of suggestion than I happen to be.

I don’t want the extended warranty, the supersize, the waterproof spray, the deluxe version or fries with that. I am the customer and I’d like to tell them what I want rather than having someone else tell me what they think I should have.

It’s why I like my favourite Thai restaurant so much. They practically ignore us. We can stay for hours and they keep bringing us pots of green tea at no extra charge. When our defenses are down and there isn’t pressure to spend, strangely enough, we order more and keep going back.

If you are trying to live within your means or cut back on extras beware of the upsell. Make your mind up before you arrive what you plan to order. They are professionals who know what they’re doing. It is their job to persuade you to buy more than you planned.

I can’t help but wonder if there is a way I can communicate exactly what I want without being sold on more.

Kathryn has been a staff writer for MDJ since January 2009. During the day she works in an office. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.

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About the author: Kathryn has been a staff writer for MDJ since January 2009. During the day she works in an office. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.

{ 56 comments… add one }
  • Four Pillars February 2, 2010, 9:15 am

    I think ordering online is one way to avoid the upsell (except for the ads). Omaha steaks does mail order. :)

    Extended warrantee on a $10 part? I was once pitched a warrantee on a $18 cable and I thought that was bad. :)

  • andrewbpaterson February 2, 2010, 9:44 am

    Great post, Kathryn…very entertaining!
    Paying for bottled water is the most ridiculous waste of money and resources I can think of!

  • Kathryn1 February 2, 2010, 10:11 am

    I find any upselling to be annoying, but the one that really got under my skin recently was when I was activating an existing credit card. There were at least three products that the woman tried to sell me.

  • Kathryn February 2, 2010, 10:18 am

    It shouldn’t be possible for someone to use the same user name as me. The above person isn’t the same as the writer.

  • Matt Hill February 2, 2010, 10:43 am

    This is one thing that irritates me and I am glad you were able to get it down on paper.

    Unfortunately, this is the common practice everywhere you go. At the bank, would you like a Visa with that, would you like Overdraft with that?

    At Future Shop/Best Buy they try and sell you a 300$ warranty on a 600$ computer and from what I have been told by people who have tried to use the warranty, it is nothing as they ‘describe’ it.

    However, as you pointed out, they do it for a reason. People get suckered into these questions and the business’ come out with more money in their pockets. ‘Would you like to add bacon bits to your salad?’

  • NewInvestor February 2, 2010, 11:08 am

    Whenever I order, especially in drive-thru situations, I always say at the end of my order “And that’s all please” It gets the message across and I don’t get the upsell questions.

  • FT FrugalTrader February 2, 2010, 11:08 am

    Or when buying a car, after they get the sale, they proceed to the “upsell” room where they try to push paint/rust protection, extended warranties, payment protection etc. Key is to know what you need before going in cuz they are specialists in getting you to buy more.

  • Kris February 2, 2010, 11:13 am

    I don’t mind the upsell when it’s food and I’ve never been to the restaurant before. What you describe above is a bit excessive, even for a restaurant, and I’d be unlikely to visit again, since the service was uncomfortable.

    In a call center environment, even as a customer service representative, you are punished for not trying to upsell everything. Some representatives can do this and not feel guilty for pushing worthless services. Though the majority I would say would rather not push anything they wouldn’t use themselves. Service reps and sales reps are often not the same. Service reps don’t like having to “take care of the angry customer after the sales rep lied or mislead them.” If I knew the sale was a commission, I had no qualms about suggesting “returning to the sales location and returning it.” No point in promising something that isn’t possible, and quite possibly against the company policy anyway.

    In a retail environment, it’s the other way around, the store management often will encourage you, if not tell you to outright lie about the benefits of the upsell. The markup on (electronics) accessories is often 600%, so of course they want to push as much of that as possible. Extended warranties are not useful for anyone except when the item is not durable (laptops, toys) and prone to breakage. Even then the extended warranty provided in-store is substandard to a warranty offered directly from the manufacturer.

  • Future Money-Bags February 2, 2010, 11:14 am

    As having worked in the restaurant industry for a while there is good reason behind the upselling:
    As the recession hits, business becomes slower, and costs of running a restaurant increase each day; Upselling is a way to compensate for some of that.
    On slow nights, you pay more out to labor and food cost than you bring into the restaurant in revenue. The thing is, if the server doesnt ask if you want upgrades, or added things to your bill; likely you will not ask. Of course there are always exceptions to that rule, but a striving restaurant cannot rely on that.

    As busy or as much money you think this restaurant makes, odds are that they are not making a whole lot; unless this is a higher class restaurant.
    That being said, Of course it is annoying when you are repeatadly asked, but that is the whole point of business. You have to push the extra mile. Put the extra stake in the dirt, to get by.

    As for the name thing, You can tell who the writer is by the box around your name, correct?

    All-in-All, if your going out to eat, expect this. Especially in a down market. So be aware and know what you want. A lot of people can spend $100 on themselves while eating out, some dont go over $17.99.

  • Future Money-Bags February 2, 2010, 11:17 am

    Also, as the above people noted, ‘upsells’ are used as staff incentives. Giving bonuses for the one with the most ‘extravagent upsells’.

  • guinness416 February 2, 2010, 11:19 am

    You should go out with my husband. He would absolutely do the “look lady” speech, although probably tip big to make up for it.

    I’ve never been to the keg (not much of a red meat eater) but was under the impression it was a decent place. Your anecdote is fast-food-level tacky. I agree, smaller restaurants – or at the other end of the scale restaurants in large hotels – don’t do this stuff.

  • Kathryn February 2, 2010, 11:34 am

    For restaurant servers the size of their tip has a direct correlation with how much they sell. It’s in their own personal best interests to sell me as much as they can when my tip is based on a percentage of what I buy. I’d probably do the same if I worked in the industry. Personally, I’d rather have it like they do in Australia. Pay our servers a decent wage and forgo tipping altogether.

  • Caitlin February 2, 2010, 12:03 pm

    @Kathryn (#4) – she didn’t use the same username as you, she used “Kathryn1”. Odds are good that other people named Kathryn read this blog. I don’t think any of the normal readers are going to confuse her with you – all of your comments get a box around them, and your URL says you’re a MDJ author, and she doesn’t even have a URL. :)

    Yes, upselling sucks, and you really have to keep on your toes to make sure you don’t get sucked in and end up paying more than you needed to.

    The problem with upselling is that, usually, the cashier/server/phone person, etc. HAS to say those things. If they don’t, it goes on their record/matrix and they get chastised for it at their next review. As annoying as it is, most of these people value keeping their jobs (especially these days) more than they value not annoying you.
    I worked phone tech support for a while. It was terrible. There was a list of things we HAD to include in every conversation, and if we didn’t, we’d lose any bonus we’d been hoping for. At the time, we were broke, so annoying a random stranger on the phone was far preferable to losing potential money, sadly.

  • FT FrugalTrader February 2, 2010, 12:06 pm

    Just to clarify guys, anyone can use a name that they choose when commenting because MDJ doesn’t require a “login” to post a comment. I changed the commenters name to Kathryn1 to avoid confusion.

  • Christy February 2, 2010, 12:27 pm

    Nice article.

    The thing about upselling that ticks me off the most, is the fact that they don’t overtly say “would you like to pay xx extra for…”. If I am ordering a steak dinner, and they ask if I want mushrooms with it, I think it would be understandable to be confused into thinking they were simply asking what I want with it, as opposed to “do I want to pay $3.50 for a side of mushrooms”. When I was a teen some friends and I saved up and went out for mexican. While taking our orders, the server asked me if I wanted guacamole with my fajitas. I assumed that they just wanted to confirm that I wanted it, as opposed to asking if I wanted to pay extra for it. When the bill came they had charged me $4.50 for a dip cup of guacamole. I refused to pay for it as: 1) they hadn’t told me it was extra; 2) it wasn’t even listed in the menu as extra; and 3) the cost was the same as a whole can of guacamole. They took it off the receipt and that was the last time I was upsold.

    C.

  • Geoff February 2, 2010, 12:37 pm

    Woah people calm down. The lady was just doing her job, and a lot of people actually appreciate the upsell, particularly if its an option that they don’t know about. I worked in sales for many years and as long as your professional and explain the costs and benefits, upselling is not a dirty word. The first word you learn as a baby is pretty much “no” (no touching! no don’t do that! no stop!) so it’s not a hard word to say. Just say no people and move on with your day. When you work for tips/commission, maybe you’ll get a different perspective on upselling.

  • Peter B February 2, 2010, 12:47 pm

    Hi, would you like the $5 warranty on the $10 surge protector you are about to buy? Upselling is profitable, so unfortunately we should be expecting more of it in the future as margins are squeezed. But your story really puts the icing on the cake. When I worked in the food industry, only one upsell was permitted any more than that it becomes annoying. You would think the steak house would have better training than I received at Burger King 15 years ago.

  • cannon_fodder February 2, 2010, 12:51 pm

    I can see both sides of the argument. If most people are like me then they understand the upsell since we see it so often. But, when it becomes pushy or the person selling is insensitive then it becomes annoying.

    Perhaps there are too many people who can be manipulated into buying things that they don’t need for fear of offending the person selling. I have no doubt that astute sellers recognize this and take full advantage.

    I have no problem being candid but I rarely find sellers do. If I sense that the person doesn’t get it, I just let them know that I’m not interested in anything other than what I’ve asked for, and if they value their time they will spend it on someone else who may need it.

    I do remember once being told by someone that they had to give me the pitch – I appreciated their candor which is all too rare.

    If anyone wants to be better educated on how to avoid the upsell, please send $15 to me and I will send you a list of common situations and how you might handle them to avoid feeling trapped. And, for an additional $5 per month I will give you a new tip each and every month. Plus, if you send me an email right now, I will double the offer – just pay shipping and handling. But you must contact me within the next ten minutes as email readers are standing by!

  • Stephen Winters February 2, 2010, 12:53 pm

    I am not a fan of up-selling but to compare eating a meal at a restaurant as up selling is completely wrong in my opinion.
    Personally I would be EXTREMELY ticked if I went to a restaurant and they didn’t offer me choice of water (paid or tap) appetizers, coffee/tea with a desert and all the bells and whistles. The way I look at it is I went to this place TO be served. The server is not up-selling me but is offering me choices.

  • Tom February 2, 2010, 1:07 pm

    I’m all for upselling. If it wasn’t for the success of upselling, places like Subway would never be able to afford to offer me that foot-long sub for 5 bucks. It’s the people that buy the drink and chips/cookies on top of the sub that make the initial deal available in the first place!

  • Sahail Ashraf February 2, 2010, 1:19 pm

    I am against the grain on this. I like being sold up (right term?).

    It reminds me that I live in a society that is dynamic and focused on making the customer king.

    One day, when I become a millionaire, I will probably realise I make so much money because I upsell customers.

    Funny how I forget this when at the supermarket. All I want is to pay, not to sign for a loyalty card, get someone to pack my bags, be reminded of an offer I just saw etc.

    Funny old world…

  • Ray February 2, 2010, 2:16 pm

    Don’t be annoyed, just be smart about it. The bottled vs tap water trick is the first thing you learn as you venture out into the world of vacationing and eating out. You’ll learn more stuff too with experience.

  • Halifax February 2, 2010, 2:28 pm

    In the chain restaurant I worked in a lifetime ago we were required to upsell. You were required to believe that all customers love the upsell. No other opinion was tolerated. It was constantly emphasized – often via threatening the under-performers. All of the servers hated to do it but could not let customers know that under any circumstances. After switching to a non-chain restaurant later it was such a relief just to bring people what they wanted.

    You should complain directly to the manager or even better the corporate office. Your server is entirely at the mercy of the chain’s policies and can do nothing about it.

  • John A Torrington February 2, 2010, 3:05 pm

    Of course the Thai restaurant probably takes cash only and doesn’t need the extra revenue. ;)

  • Tracey February 2, 2010, 3:35 pm

    I think the worst example of upselling I’ve recently encountered was at Circuit City, where the staff are required to offer warranties on every battery they sell. I’m fairly certain that CC is attempting to piggyback on their reputation as the goto place for batteries, but come on, people, a warranty for a $5.95 battery?

    As for restaurants, I share your feelings of discomfort, but for a different reason. It’s taken me years to stop trying to impress waitstaff with my freespending ways, and whenever I refuse the seltzer water, the appetizer, the coffee, supersized meal and dessert, I leave what should have been a pleasant experience feeling cheap. Something I’ll have to get over, but there you are.

    Thanks for the great column.

  • Bill M February 2, 2010, 3:41 pm

    I’m looking for a ING Direct Orange Key , so I can open an account and ING will give me $25 for doing so . Could this be a upsell or undersell .

  • Ms Save Money February 2, 2010, 4:56 pm

    Yup you can’t help it – businesses of course want to make money & it’s the server’s job to up sell, but I agree – some servers go overboard.

  • KLM February 2, 2010, 5:28 pm

    Mr. Lube is an annoying upseller.

    They have gone so far as to remove a car component (without asking and there was nothing wrong with it) to show it to me and advise me that it is something that should replaced as a preventative measure. To this day I have no idea where the heck they extracted it from.

  • Ramona February 2, 2010, 5:33 pm

    Seems to me Kathryn (comment #4) was just kidding around – mock outrage if you will. But hey Kathryn – for a small upfront fee and larger monthly fee, how about if we change your name to Kathryn-son. Now that’s an upsell.

    Here’s my pet peeve on the subject – when you go for fast food and start placing your order, then the cashier says “Do you want a combo?”, and I just wonder why our marvellous computer systems/terminals can’t determine the best price for us based on what we purchase. It would make my life a bit simpler. Isn’t technology supposed to do that?
    Cheers!

  • cash back credit cards February 2, 2010, 5:46 pm

    The funny thing is when Mcdonald does or did that they finally got caught and called out. Though, I completely understand and continue to see regular dinner places doing this. And it seems even more so now due to the ecomony that we are currently facing.

    Great article and thanks for sharing your experience. It would have been better if you just blasted the place you ate at…haha

  • JK February 2, 2010, 5:57 pm

    I am going to be blunt and say make upselling illegal in Canada.

    Personally, I concur with all the comments and I am tired of being pushed into buying something that I don’t need/like.

    What merchants can do is just list out all the “optional” items and let the consumer pick what he/she wants.

  • Financial Cents February 2, 2010, 7:55 pm

    I agree with Frugal…one of the keys in avoiding an upsell is knowing what you need vs. what you want, before providing your service or product selection to someone. After that decision has been made, you can politely but assertively say “that’s all thank you”.

    A key part of this process, is looking the person you are talking to directly in the eye when responding. You’ll be impressed how effectively this works, because you have made eye contact.

    Good post.

  • d.rae February 2, 2010, 9:26 pm

    having worked retail myself, i know upsell. Don’t like shoving merchandise or anything down someones throat (so to speak) , but required by employer to approach potential sales, with offers , xtended warranties, etc…it is more money in the retailers pocket with a little and i mean “little” incentive for the sales associate, wait staff or whomever….it is all about the money, honey…
    don’t always blame it on your wait staff….they have not only the customer to please but a manager breathing down their neck too….(big brother)?
    We were tracked for our sales of additional products etc…as the SGM where i worked always punctuated her pep talk of the morning, with “SELL EVERYTHING”.

  • Dave February 2, 2010, 11:34 pm

    While I’ve never had that sort of experience at the Keg (a place I’ve frequented literally all my life), I am certainly far too accustomed to its happening at retailers, particularly Best Buy. I bought a new computer from there, and after the usual warranty pitch, I brought it home and had some problems with it. I called HP (the manufacturer) and after hours on the phone with a very helpful and funny customer service rep, I was subject to buying ‘another’ warranty, except this one from HP. After 20 minutes of him trying to convince me, he said he’d give me a callback a week later and ask how I’m feeling.

    Sometimes, if you’re interested (1/500 times), it’s fine to have the pitch — it may even be appreciated, but the vast majority of us can do without it.

  • Money Reasons February 3, 2010, 12:07 am

    I hate when restaurants do this practice! When I go to places that use this tactic, It makes the entire occasion a slightly less enjoyable experience.

    You’d think that they would want you to come back… Amazing…

  • Prasad February 3, 2010, 12:51 am

    Excellent post, thank you for sharing. Recently I am planning to buy a decent LED tv for my home, doing shopping from last one week, If the TV cost is $2000 they are planning sell equivalent amount of other stuff and convincing me without that stuff I can’t enjoy the experiance. Unbelivable!!

  • finance February 3, 2010, 3:12 am

    that was a great post. we sometimes buy things that we caught unaware of. and these people just keep on selling trying to hook you to buy on the things that are not necessary. Yes there are restaurant nowadays that had this practice it’s just annoying. Thanks for the post here it’s really good.

  • Luc February 3, 2010, 6:19 am

    I don’t see any issues with the server. Otherwise she wouldn’t be doing her job. I counted maybe four questions, five if you include dessert. Is that unreasonable? It’s not like she said, “are you sure you don’t want an appetizer, they’re really good”. Calm down folks.

  • Bucksome February 3, 2010, 10:01 am

    Good post and interesting discussion. Like Kathryn I dislike the constant attempt to sell me more while trying to enjoy the dining experience.

    I would like to be asked if I wanted dessert, but don’t assume.

    What really annoys me is when they don’t tell you that there’s an extra charge.
    We took guests out to a chain restaurant a few years ago. They asked if we wanted dipping sauce for the breadsticks. The guest didn’t realize there was a cost (it wasn’t disclosed) and said yes and we ended up paying $3 each for two different sauces.

  • Craig February 3, 2010, 1:44 pm

    Like you say it’s their job, that’s what they are doing and trying to get more tips so you can’t blame them. I always just make it clear right away in a situation that I don’t want anything. At the movies they do this all the time. They ask if I want their special card, before they finish I say no. Just be direct.

  • Jimmee February 3, 2010, 8:28 pm

    Or the infamous line “would you like to try an apple fritter today?” from our local Timmies.

    Good article Kathryn.
    You could be my money coach anytime.

  • FrugalGreenie February 3, 2010, 11:03 pm

    Your experience has reflected my experiences at the Keg. I wonder how long it will take before they realise what a turnoff to the customer this is…I haven’t been back in more than 2 years!

  • finance February 4, 2010, 3:05 am

    I think they should review their customer service enhancement methodology it’s not getting any customer instead it’s getting the other way. doing such things would only make customer not to come back.

  • Forest February 4, 2010, 10:33 am

    Oh this really does my head in!!

    It’s gotten to epidemic proportions in the USA! It’s happening in Brtain too but it feels more forced and the kids trying to upsell the large Pepsi seem like they are reading the script off a big corporate board or they will get fired!

    I’m currently living in Cairo, Egypt and I love the fact that getting a waiter to give you attention is hard work….. No upsell but generally a pleasant experience. They are just chilling out and when you do manage to get their attention they are very helpful.

  • Jen February 4, 2010, 10:39 am

    It is annoying, because I know what I want. Lately Starbucks drive thru has been bugging me because they have a really long greeting, like “Welcome to Starbucks, can we start you off with a skinny dolce cinnamon latte this morning?” It’s silly because everyone that goes there has a signature drink.

  • Lenore February 4, 2010, 2:45 pm

    I usually counter with, “Does that cost extra?” or “Only if it’s free.” If asked repeatedly, I might resort to, “That’s all.” Maybe if more customers complained to the manager, not about the server but about the restaurant’s excessive upselling, we could all order in peace.

  • Raghu bilhana February 4, 2010, 2:59 pm

    Since when is drinking water considered cheap.

    These sort of statements incredibly hurt people who drink only water

  • NewInvestor February 4, 2010, 3:38 pm

    Drinking Water is not Cheap its Healthy, and if your concerned about the wait time in a starbucks drive through, it might be time to re-think your priorities. Just Sayin’

  • Alex February 4, 2010, 7:41 pm

    When I make something, I let it speak for itself. I just wish consumerist America would do the same. Quality products don’t need marketing droids to push them, only gaudy crap does.

  • MattA February 5, 2010, 12:06 pm

    My irritation with upselling also depends also on when they try to do the upsell. A couple years ago I stopped by Best Buy first thing on a Sunday morning to buy a $20 item. They had only one checkout station open and I was in line behind a guy buying $1000 worth of audio equipment. The checkout clerk pitched him on the extended warranty, and when he expressed mild interest, she proceeded to give him the 10-minute rundown on the details. At the register with other customers waiting.

    When I finally got to the register, the same clerk asked me, “Would you like the extended warranty with that?” (For a $20 item?) “No, thank you.” “May I ask why not?”

    Well, since she asked… “Because I don’t want the guy behind me to be held up for 10 minutes while you explain it to me!”

    She then suggested that if I was in a hurry I shouldn’t shop at 11 AM on a Sunday when only one register is open. It took about 2 years before I went back to Best Buy again.

  • Shannon February 5, 2010, 7:27 pm

    My sister went through the drive through at Sonic and ordered a drink. The person through the box asked her if she wanted cheese with that. She repeated her order thinking she hadn’t been heard. Again the person asked her if she wanted cheese with it. My sister said, “I only ordered a drink”. The person said in a very exasperated tone “it’s called upselling and we’re required to do it”. I would have taken it further for the fun of it but my sister didn’t, she just told her she didn’t want cheese. I would have said yes on the cheese and then watched to see what would happen. :)

  • zud February 5, 2010, 9:42 pm

    What is it called when you’re shopping at a store that sells multiple brands and the clerk insists on showing you or pushing you towards a certain brand? that’s not an upsell more like sell-you-what-i-want-to-sell-you.

    I assume there may be some kind of kick back or incentive for the store to push that brand. I get this alot at Sephora, they are really pushing MUFE whereas i really want to try a NARS product and was basically shot down.

    I lose trust in the salespeople because of their bias.

    anyways good article kathryn, i admit to feeling quite guilty when not ordering a drink

  • Future Money-Bags February 6, 2010, 9:22 am

    I drink enough free pop at work, no way I am going to pay for it. As for always ordering water, I love water. It makes the food taste better. And I usually just ask for a pitcher if applicable; as I will end up drinking 3-4 glasses.

    If you have a sweet beverage with meal, meal doesn’t taste as good.
    As for alcohol.. Well I would rather buy by alcohol and drink at home, than spend $6-7 for 1 single drink..

    Good input from everyone. A good article doesn’t necessarily have to have 1000 fun-filled-and-useful facts, but its the discussion that it starts after, that makes it excellent.

    Kudos.

  • CLOSER February 10, 2010, 2:38 pm

    I got a battery (CR 2032) at the source for $5.99 and got the extended warranty for $1.49. This allows me two replacements in a three year span. This is my second battery I bought this year. Even if I got this battery at the second least expensive store, its $7.99 for one battery (the generic kind). Realistically I got three batteries for the price of one. Thats a good deal! Im glad that they educated me on this, but with all things: choose your battles!

    Cheers :D

  • Rachel November 25, 2012, 1:52 pm

    Your best option is to turn it into as much of a tedious chore for them as it is for you, by turning their question into a question. e.g., :

    “A black coffee please.”, “Do you want milk with that?”, “Wouldn’t that be a *white* coffee?”

    “Do you want fries with that?”, “Did you hear me ask for fries?”.

    “Do you want this special spray to make your shoes waterproof?”, “Are you telling me these shoes are no good for wet weather?”

    etc.

    On no account, ever, just say “no” to any attempt to upsell. That is what they expect you to do, because it’s what saves them the most time. Instead, ask them a stupid, open-ended, discomfitting question back in return. You’ve plenty of time to think of one whilst they waste the time of the person in front of you. It won’t stop you experiencing upselling, but it will hack the brains of those inflicting their anti-social upselling skills that they learned in a training session the week before. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to ruin their day a tiny little bit, put them off their stride for the next unlucky customer, and encourage them to go and get a job that actually adds some value to society.

  • Jerry Kelso June 10, 2014, 2:41 pm

    Just be aware that poeple have a job to do and we don’t do this because we want to but because we have to as part of our jobs.

    A simple no without being a jerk is the proper response.

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