The Up-Sell

The Upsell.png

The following article by Robert W. Powell, CPA CA CIRP LIT, was published in the July 2017 issue of the District News.

This is my rant on up-selling.  It seems out of control.  Almost every time I buy something, the cashier, order taker or customer service rep is trying to sell me something that I don’t need and didn’t ask for.  I appreciate good customer service but the up-sell is often hidden in “good customer service”.

My last visit for servicing my vehicle (at the dealership where I bought it) was a frustrating experience.  They recommended changing the transmission fluid.  I was puzzled by this recommendation so I looked-up in the service manual as to when the transmission fluid was recommended to be changed (according to the vehicle manufacturer) and I was not near that level of kilometers.  I pushed back and asked why they were making the recommendation; was there something wrong that they identified; why is their recommendation different from what the manual says?  There was a lot of stuttering on the other side and no answer other than that was what the mechanic was recommending.  I pushed further and got a sheepish response that they were all under pressure to up-sell; this did not appear to have anything to do with the mechanic’s recommendation.  

You can’t make it through a drive-through without “do you want to upsize that?”, “can we add a muffin?”, “do you want to make a donation to….”; no, thank you, I just want the coffee I ordered!

Don’t get me wrong, I have sympathy for the employees who have to push unnecessary services and products in order to keep their job and income.  It causes stress for employees and stress for customers.  Unfortunately, the up-sell is here and not going away so, defend yourself.

The cost of saying “Yes” when you add it up over many small transactions can be significant.  The cost of saying “Yes” to one unnecessary extra service option at the dealership can be significant.  “No” is an incredibly simple word that many people find difficult to say.  Make “No, thank you” your default option on the little upsells; it will get easier the more you say it.  When confronted with a larger expenditure, ask questions (Is it critical that this be done now?  Will any damage result if I don’t do it?), make them explain the basis of their recommendation or just say no so you have time to do some research or get a second opinion.  “No” can save real money.