How To Avoid The Upsell

It’s easier to make additional money off existing customers than to find new ones. Most companies have standard procedures to get us to buy just a bit more every time we make a purchase. From the, “would you like fries with that?” at McDonald’s to “would you like to sign up for an extended warranty?” at Best Buy to the endless pitches we have to endure just to activate a credit card, upsells are everywhere.

But we don’t have to take it. These companies take our valuable time and energy trying to get us to buy one more thing. Instead of simply grinning and bearing it, here’s some advice to help us avoid the upsell:

Etiquette expert Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners, advises saying: “Thank you, but I’m not interested. Can we please just get on with our business?” Ouch! But she’s right. You don’t owe the company your undying attention.

Personally, the “We’re not interested” response works well for us when we’re being solicited by a person (either directly or via phone.) When it’s an automated phone message from a place I’m trying to contact, we either start hitting “0″ to get to a real person. But ifweI can’t get away from it (which is the case with many of the credit card activation upsells you have to listen to while they “activate” your card (which probably takes three seconds in real time), we simply put the call on speakerphone, set down the phone, and do something else until we hear them give up.Free Money Finance

Just say no to the ‘upsell’ [MSN Money]

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  1. orlong says:

    If these stores never went for an upsell one of 2 tings would happen. Either they would go out of business, or the overall prices would raise on everything. I lot of people do not realize that those awesome deals you see in ads often are priced below what the store pays for them so in order to make any money off of you at all they must “attach” something else that makes money to the sale in order to turn a profit. This is also the reason places like Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples etc.. have such huge markups on accessories like cables. They sell you a PC for a $200.00 loss and make up that $200 when they sell you a USB cable, extended warranty, carrying case etc…

  2. Mobileray2 says:

    Good advice but do please aremember to not be a jerk about the whole thing. Truth is the salesperson who is pushing the upsell only is doing so because the have to. Having worked for many companies in sales I can attest to this practice. I was berated, threatened, and even faced punishment for not meeting a quota for tacking on extra sells, memberships, and upgrades. I figured if the customer wanted it they could ask for it, but apparently that isn’t enough for these businesses. As a consumer I know it is annoying to deal with this but please remember the salesperson is probably just as annoyed about the whole situation as you are. A simple “No Thanks” in my opinion is quick to the point without leaving the employee feeling like a creep when you leave.

  3. quantum-shaman says:

    Your loss leaders are the ONLY reason I’m here. Personally, I live for the moment that some baggy pants sales bastard will try to upsell me. I take such pleasure in neutering all their “how to make a million” salesmanship training and undermining their stupid transparent neuro-linguistic programming scripts. Ohhh, what fun.

  4. getjustin says:

    My favorite upsell tactic was something McDonalds used to do. They had a little program in their register that would generate a little side deal based on the amount of change you were going to get. The idea was that they would sell you something small so they would get a sale instead of giving you change. So they would say something like, “Instead of your change, would you like an apple pie or a couple of cookies?” If it was a lot of change, close to a dollar or so, they might even offer a burger or a shake. I only experienced this a few times in a few select locations a few years back. I’m sad to say I once fell for an apple pie upsell.

  5. raybury says:

    orlong -

    In my experience in the retail world, while clearance items might eventually move below cost, the advertised sale items were always above the item cost. But yes, a

  6. DeeJayQueue says:

    @orlong: Who’s fault is it that stores price things below the threshold at which they make money? Not the consumers’. People would buy things at their real cost if they started out like that in the first place. They should know that it’s ultimately a losing game to sell things at a loss. Eventually the law of diminishing returns comes into play and they have to either jack up prices or hope that the price of the item falls to meet what they’re selling it for.

  7. “No, my husband told me to buy this one. No, my husband told me to buy this one. No, my husband told me to buy this one.”

    Their heads almost explode. Sometimes they suggest “we” call him on my cell so they can try to tell him to tell me that he REALLY wants the 8 zillion upsells, but I always look sad and innocent and say, “No, he really doesn’t like to be bothered at work.”

  8. Optimistic Prime says:

    I don’t mind them trying to upsell one thing, but a dozen in one shot is ridiculous. That’s right Best Buy, I’m talking to you. You can shove your magazines, warranties, and anything else extra right up your friggin’ arsehole.

  9. Canadian Impostor says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Haha, I’m going to start saying that, and I’m a dude.

  10. etinterrapax says:

    I’m trying to feel bad about the idea of businesses going under because of upsell resistance, but I can’t seem to. If the only way they can turn a profit is to harass people at the point of sale, there’s something very wrong with how they’re doing business. I don’t care if everyone does it. The business risk of offering a loss leader is that some customers will not purchase other goods to compensate. If it’s causing losses in excess of what the business can bear, that’s not my problem. They wrote the offer.

    I once read that our (US) economy functions in a continual, intentional state of crisis. That unless there is an ongoing sense of intrinsic or extrinsic threat, the economic system has no energy. I suspect that consumption fatigue is setting in and will be a major factor in national economics for some years. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  11. mantari says:

    The website that stuck in my mind as ‘best use of an artifical structure (resembling choice) to create dozens of potential upsell oportunities’: Dell

    To their credit, they’ve gotten far better. It used to be page after page after page after page of mindless options before you could finalize an order. Today, it looks like they’re cramming more items onto each page, but at least there are less pages to skip through.

    @Eyebrows McGee:
    “No, my husband told me to buy this one. No, my husband told me to buy this one. No, my husband told me to buy this one.” “No, he really doesn’t like to be bothered at work.”

    Priceless. I’m going to use it, too.

  12. JohnMc says:

    orlong,

    If you were to look at the technology curve that companies like Best Buy deal in its in the shape of it is an reversed ‘S’. Very pricy when first introduced and slides as the novelty wears off. At the end of the curve its at give away prices. That is the way of all tech stuff and most especially consumer tech stuff.

    That item you think is a ‘loss leader’ is probably at the nadir of the curve. The back office has already done an in-shelf invoice rebate with the MFR and is still making a profit at the price advertised. Happens all the time. The biggest retailer in the world, WalMart, does this daily.

  13. Ravenwaift says:

    Am I the only person who just says “no, thank you” over and over? I don’t try to mess with them, or anthing like that, I just politely decline.

    Really, any time someone tries to sell me something I just say no. If they ask why, “I’m just not interested.” If they persist, I’ll usually repeat that a few times and then I’ll hang up the phone or walk away.

    I also listen to the entire speil before saying no. Occasionally they do offer something I really am interested in. Besides, I don’t like being rude.

  14. charlieriley says:

    A real problem for the poor minimum wage slaves is that their job performance sometimes isn’t based on whether they show up, do their jobs, and have a neatly balanced drawer at the end of their shift–it’s how many upsells they got in a day. My daughter worked for a mall-chain bookstore a couple of years ago, and was let go after six months, not because of her job performance itself, but because she had an unsatisfactory number of upsells (membership “benefits” cards, knick-knacks by the registers, “special today with qualifying purchase,” etc). Her customer comment cards were overwhelmingly postitive, because she knew the merchandise, knew many of the customers and their preferences, and didn’t bug the shit out of them to buy stuff they didn’t want. Turns out that mattered for zero, because corporate wanted the free money of “benefit” cards more than actually selling anything tangible or making the real repeat customers happy. No surprise to anyone reading here, I know, but it was a reality slammer for my kid who’d been taught that working hard and well means success.

  15. acambras says:

    @getjustin:
    Popeye’s Fried Chicken does that, and my boyfriend almost always takes the bait.

    @Ravenwaift:
    I think there are ways to avoid listening to a lengthy spiel without being rude. The way I see it, if you politely decline early (when you know you’re not going to go for the upsell), you avoid wasting your time and theirs. They can use that time to give the spiel to a more receptive audience.

  16. Charles Duffy says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: The reverse works just as well — except that instead of sad and innocent, I go for harried and terrified.

  17. @Charles Duffy: LOL.

    I find it entertaining how many salespeople are willing to believe my marriage exists in 1950 as long as I look brainless enough.

    (Also, my husband never makes technology, or insurance, or investment, or contractor-related decisions in this house. Which makes it funnier to me, because if they DID talk to him, he’d be like, “What the hell are you talking about?”)

  18. organizedhome says:

    Personally, I’ve found a silver lining in being hearing-impaired in such situations. I wear BIG hearing aids (affectionately known as my Honkers), so I just point to them and say, “Sorry, hard-of-hearing–how much?”

    The notion that they can’t TALK to me flusters the socks right off of the sales robots. Better, it terminates their script COLD, about 99 times out of a hundred.

    I simply neglect to add that I read lips … and I pay and go away with no more pestering.

  19. LTS! says:

    Well, my response is usually “I’m not interested.” If the next statement is anything but progress on finalizing a sale/activating a credit card I then inform them that I said I was not interested and if I have to say it again I will cancel my order/credit card and go elsewhere.

    It works most of the time, and the rest of the time I have the satisfaction of not purchasing or using a product from a company that cannot listen to me.

  20. xkaluv says:

    I’ve managed a Retail Store for over 10 years… the way to avoid the upsale is responding in a direct manner when asked. Don’t use “na” or “I don’t think so”. Use the word NO.

    Would you like to add extended protection? NO

    It is soooo rare that someone will actually directly respond NO that most salespeople don’t know how to deal with it, and they certainly aren’t going to keep asking for additional addons with the extreme rejection you offered on the first.

  21. kingoman says:

    “What part of NO do you not understand?” After a couple of negative responses, silence also works. Eventually they ask why you’re not answering and you just say that as soon as we’re talking about this purchase again, you’ll return to the conversation. I’ve only had to resort to these a couple of times, most people actually do understand the words “no, thank you.”

    Rudeness on our part is probably never going to work. If they haven’t been rude, you’ll make them mad because you’ll be jerk, and if they have been rude, they won’t get it if you return the rudeness. It’s pointless.

    I did have to ask one guy if he wanted to make the sale or not. He didn’t believe I’d leave if he kept trying to sell me the warranty– so I left. Came back after lunch and bought from a different guy who understood “no.”

  22. mac-phisto says:

    ok, sometimes it pays to listen to the “upsell”. hear me out here. when i used to work at an electronics retailer, we would constantly get ppl coming in for, say a digital camera. i would always try to gauge a customer by what they were looking to pay & pick the best camera in their range, but often i would also try to upsell them on a better unit. why? b/c i used almost all of the cameras we sold & i knew that the $229 casio exilim was worth the $60 more than the $169 canon a520.

    now, you can use the camera w/o an sd card, but you’re only gonna get 12 shots. & you can carry it around w/o a bag, but if you’re anything like me, that camera won’t last more than a month. screen protectors are also important to keep that lcd clean from scratches, etc., etc.

    then, i’d ask if they were interested in a store card, which would essentially make all the accessories that i sold them free, along with 6-months or a year to pay it off interest free.

    that’s my upsell on a digital camera package (notice i almost never sold warranties – they’re garbage even though i could make $5-10 off them). i ask you this – did i oversell them? i didn’t think so. all of the items i mention are accessories that a person will end up buying eventually – i just found a way to hook them up for free. & i know ppl groan about store cards, but do you know a better way to save $30 or more on a purchase? i used to price survey our products over the interent & it was pretty difficult to beat them. sure, maybe you could find the camera for $30 less online, but then you were forking over $15 to ship it & it was coming from a vendor with more bad reviews than fantastic four.

    sure, sometimes the upsell is b.s. but sometimes, you may encounter a knowledgeable sales associate that really does have your best interest in mind.

  23. mewyn dyner says:

    I really hate upsells. In fact, I hate them so much, if I overlook something in a purchase or the upsell is something I do want, I will still turn it down (unless it’s a one-time deal that can’t be beat, usually isn’t though).

    A clerk at best buy particularly annoyed me yesterday, as I was buying some controllers for my Wii and she kept saying I should get the replacement plan. They are controllers, come on! If they break, I’ll just go and buy a new one.

  24. Aaron Pratt says:

    So the secret is to politely decline? Shocking!

    A week ago my girlfriend and I took a weekend shopping trip. Every single store we visited tried to get us to open a store credit account. My favorite was Pier 1 that told us they had people open an account, get the 10% discount for the day, and then just cancel the card right away. “It doesn’t hurt your credit any,” the saleswoman told us. After we declined, she tried to sell us on it again to save “$15 on your $150 purchase!”

    We declined to open an account anywhere.

  25. morgito says:

    Funny thing: as I was reading this article, a telemarketer calls me on my cell phone telling me I’ve been entered in some sort of contest! So I put the phone down and go about my business, letting them talk their own ear off.

  26. Shadowman615 says:

    My policy is to do most of my shopping online these days. It makes inter-store comparisons easy, I can read other customer’s reviews of the products, and I don’t have to deal with salespeople.

    Every year the financial reports seem to get worse for brick-and-mortar retail stores, and there’s a good reason for it.

  27. John Stracke says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: I should try that one, and watch their brains explode as they realize they’re in Massachusetts, and I could be telling the truth. :-)

    @xkaluv: Yeah, I almost always just say, “No, thank you”, and they just stop. My favorite was when I bought a laptop at Best Buy (*); the guy started his upsell spiel with trying to sell me antivirus software, and I said, “No, thanks; I’m going to be running Linux on it.”. He just shut down immediately; he obviously knew there was no way his scripts would work on me. :-)

    (*) Yeah, Best Buy’s not great; but I’d done my research. I got a dual-core laptop with a gig of RAM, and wireless that works under Linux, for $850 (in fall 2006), and I didn’t have to drive to Circuit City.

  28. humphrmi says:

    @orlong: I’m guessing you’ve never taken economics, have you? Supply / demand curves? Elasticity of Demand? [tap] [tap] is this thing on?

    If companies sell products above the price that consumers are willing to pay, they will go out of business. That will reduce supply, and if elasticity is such that consumers are now ready to pay more, then someone else will sell it to them at that price. On the other hand, if reduced supply doesn’t affect prices then you’ve got an item that you’ll either sell at the lower price or you won’t sell at all. The consumer never gets hurt because they either pay the lowest price that the market will allow, or they don’t want the product to begin with.

    As my econ teacher used to say, That’s life in the big city.

  29. Buran says:

    @Mobileray2: Firmly but politely denying an attempt to sell me something I don’t want isn’t what I consider rude. Failing to just do the business I came to do and shoving something I didn’t ask for in my face, on the other hand, is. If I am buying something and offered something I don’t want, I say “No thank you, I’m not interested” in a tone that says “Shut up. Right now.” But I’ve done it politely. If you then push the matter when I have indicated that it is not only closed, it is six feet under, I will get even more firm in my refusal — and if you then push it beyond that, I drop what I’m holding and walk out of the store — leaving you to clean up the mess you created by ignoring my verbal cue to drop the matter.

    “Someone else forced me to be rude” doesn’t mean it’s not still rude — and you were given several cues indicating that your “upsell” wasn’t appreciated.

    Fortunately, most sales people will catch the cue at the first step, and I hope that you would too (you seem like you probably would) but there are those that just can’t seem to stop being pushy rude gits.

  30. Buran says:

    @organizedhome: My hearing aid isn’t all that noticeable. I wanted a silver one (Phonak Savia) but my audiologist forgot to ask me what color I wanted and I got a flesh-toned one. If it ever breaks and needs service, though, I will ask him to have the case replaced with a silver one. It does have a silver europlug adapter attached — but even so, most clerks don’t notice it.

    I can, however, turn it off if I have to be subjected to some crap I don’t want to know about, or in noisy environments. The downside is idiotic businesses that say “call us” — after I’ve used email to contact them.

    I usually write back telling them that if I wanted to call them in the first place I would have.

  31. aikoto says:

    I try to give the sales guys a bit of slack since I know far to well what it’s like to be in their shoes. Even if you’re not on commission, it’s amazing how much pressure management will put on you to sell this crap.

    I always figured I did my job as long as I told them about it and didn’t bother with pushing them into it (most of the time).

    The hardest part is that stores like Best Buy are corporate whores and sell anything and everything. Netflix, cable service, MSN Internet. Why on earth does any of that apply to someone buying a car stereo?

  32. aikoto says:

    @charlieriley: but it was a reality slammer for my kid who’d been taught that working hard and well means success.

    It still does! Just not in worthless professions like sales. I had the same problem because I was far too honest to lie to customers as I was told to do sometimes. I’m lucky I never got fired, but they didn’t watch enough to realize that I would never stoop to their tactics.

  33. aikoto says:

    @Aaron Pratt: Every single store we visited tried to get us to open a store credit account.

    Of course they did. Credit is a huge profit for most places. Since I’ve recently sworn off all credit of any kind, I’m experimenting with turn-down phrases for situations like these.

    My current front-runner is “No thank you. Purchasing on credit only supports animal molesters and I don’t support animal molestation.”

    What are they supposed to say to that?

  34. TedSez says:

    If companies truly believe that “it’s easier to make additional money off existing customers than to find new ones,” how come so many of them treat their current customers so badly?

    The “upsell” is just a way of getting more money up front. That way companies don’t have to care how many consumers leave after having horrible experiences with customer support, billing issues, bad repairs, product breakage and unfulfilled warranties.

  35. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    I’m a big just keep repeating “no thank you,” person, though often my tone will get more annoyed the more I have to say it, because usually I’m trying to buy a $1 battery or some cheap resistors at Radio Shack, and they keep trying to sell me a cell phone, even though mine is sticking out of my front pocket.

    “Gee, I only came in here to spend a dollar, but sure, I’ll blow a couple hundred on a last minute whim purchase.”

  36. RandomHookup says:

    @acambras:

    You can get bait at Popeyes? Live or artificial?

  37. KRSMAV says:

    The only upsell I buy is a road hazard replacement policy for new tires. I always get the largest, widest, longest lasting and, thus, most expensive tires Sears offers. Even one puncture pays more than the cost, and I always get at least one, given the condition of the streets in NYC. My last flat was a bolt through the sidewall after 5,000 miles, completely unpatchable. Sears gave me a brand new one with no argument, and you can go to any Sears in the country.

  38. Youthier says:

    I always say “no thank you” to upsells but with credit card offers, I usually just say, “I already have one, thank you.” That takes care of things quickly.

  39. mac-phisto says:

    @Fuzzy_Duffel_Bag: $1 battery at radioshack? when’s the last time you went in there?!?

  40. acambras says:

    @RandomHookup:

    Depends on what you’re fishing for, I guess. If I ever need to get my boyfriend to do something, I can just dangle a bag of Cajun Hot Wings in front of him. ;-)

  41. The hardest part is that stores like Best Buy are corporate whores and sell anything and everything. Netflix, cable service, MSN Internet. Why on earth does any of that apply to someone buying a car stereo?

    @jeremyduffy: That’s what I can’t tolerate about upsells. I have no problem being told about related products. In fact, last time I bought a video game console I should have been upsold: it didn’t come with a controller. I had to go back out and buy one. I normally don’t get the upsell but it’s not annoying to be asked if I have everything I need to start using what I came in for.

    I do not like being asked to make a completely random purchase just because I came in the store. It’s stupid. It has nothing to do with anything except them getting more money. It reminds me of the South Park episode where one of the kids gave a homeless guy a $20 and the homeless guy asks, “Got any more?”

  42. orlong says:

    @etinterrapax: @LTS!:
    If your looking at a loss leader and you say that, they will say fine go buy it somewhere else. They arent going to fret over a lost sale that goes out “dry” as they dont make anything on it

  43. CSR says:

    One thing I’d like to add on the “hit 0 to get to a real person” bit–check from time to time to see if you have gotten through.

    I work at a call center, and just a few days ago I had a call pop up where the person was just steadily hitting the 0 button. At one point I even heard him in the background loudly cursing about automated systems. In the brief pauses between the next button push, I kept trying to get his attention, but he never heard me.

    We are told that if a call comes in and there isn’t a response in two minutes, to transfer the call to our sup’s extention. Since it wasn’t a case where I was on hold, and knew there *was* someone on the line, I waited for four. Finally I transfered it over, and tried contacting the customer on the “can be reached” number we had on file, but no answer.

    So even if it is a long wait–check every so often and see if you got through. Otherwise you are defeating your own purpose.

  44. orlong says:

    @humphrmi:

    It doesnt matter what the supply and or demand is, Best Buy, Circuit City, Comp USA, and Fry’s will ALWAYS have that $400 laptop in the ad that cost them $649 to buy. They do it to get you in the store in the hopes they can make money off of you in other ways. In general yes the supply and demand will dictate the cost of an item, but there will always be loss leaders. Sure circuit City could stop selling ad pieces for less than cost but then everyone would go to the stores that DO do it, therefore reducing Circuit City’s business. Add in the fact that a lot of the time people try to upsell you from the ad piece is it isnt the item you need. A lot of people here know what they need because they are tech savvy but you get someone who wants to play Half Life 2 on their PC and they want the $400 laptop, it is a diservice to sell them that because it will NOT play the game that they want. Then they complain they are being upsold when in reality it wont do what they want it to.

  45. MeOhMy says:

    Most of the time it doesn’t bother me. The only times it does are when I’m calling to activate a credit card (this is supposed to be a security measure, NOT a sales opportunity) and…

    When KBToys asks you if you want to buy batteries. They are so deeply indoctrinated that you can buy a pack of playing cards and they will STILL ask you if you would like to buy batteries! At least have the decency to only upsell me something relevant to the purchase.

  46. orlong says:

    @jeremyduffy:

    Then they just think youre crazy and every time you come into the store everyone points and says there is that crazy guy

  47. orlong says:

    @TedSez:

    Product breakage isnt the responsibility of the retailer. They didnt make it, why should they pay to have it fixed. Deal with the company that made it

  48. TedSez says:

    @orlong: Hey, that’s just what the guy at the retailer I never went back to said!

  49. capitalass says:

    I’ve found that stating “no thanks” quietly while looking down tends to work about half the time. The other half of the time (after saying “no thanks”) looking up and staring at them for about five seconds, followed by screaming “manager” at the top of your lungs works the rest of the time. Try it.

  50. Kornkob says:

    @Troy F.: If you buy something at KB toys (or TrU) that does not require batteries and they upsell the batteries do what I do: ask them to tell you what size batteries it takes.

    That tends to end that coversation. And sometimes they apologize.

  51. FlyingOwl says:

    I went with my B/F to Men’s Wearhouse yesterday to help pick out and purchase a suit for an upcoming wedding. After he had selected the suit , a shirt and two ties, we were ready to check out… Except that the upsell was freaking relentless!!! The salesman offered us no less than SIX additional items.

    First, he sort of stealthily snuck up on the b/f and got him into a butt ugly camel-colored faux suede jacket that looked like it had been unearthed from 1984. Then he asked my b/f if he wanted socks, cufflinks, a belt, cedar hangers and an expensive garment bag. No, no, no, no and NO! I’ve heard of the upsell but this was idiotic!

  52. Antediluvian says:

    @Jason:
    I’m a dude, I’m married to another dude, and I’m the one who tells HIM what items to buy — but he’s already good at avoiding upsell. And yes, we’re in Massachusetts.

    And coming up on our 3rd anniversary this Friday!

  53. Nytmare says:

    Ah, the “I just work here” attitude.

  54. hop says:

    best buy sucketh……………..

  55. Nekoincardine says:

    As one of the screwed-over wage slaves at these kinds of places, the best way to avoid the upsell, IMO:

    1) Listen and make it clear you ARE listening, THEN say something more than just “no thanks.” If we’re trying to sell you an extended warranty, respond, “I have buddies at my IT department who will fix any error you are able to fix for one tenth of the price.” If we’re trying to sell you RewardZone or similar (Movie Gallery’s Discount Rental cards, coffee shop’s ‘buy five get a sixth free’ cards, etc.) take a second and think if you’re going to show up in the near future here again before saying “I don’t think I’ll be coming here often enough to take advantage of that.” If you listen to the upsell, you’ll usually come up with a decent way to shoot it – in specific – down on your own.

    2) Three attempts should be the limit on rule #1 (and the limit that any store worth your visiting should be trying). After that one, make it more obvious that you’re tuning out and shorten your answers. Do this enough at the same store and eventually they’ll learn that it’s not worth trying. Get your friends to do this one, if possible – once you have a firm ‘three is the limit’ culture amongst a major portion of customers

    3) (This one’s risky and depends on the employee) When they start trying to upsell, grab something small that’s completely unrelated to what they’re selling to you – candy bars at the registers are perfect in most cases. This may shut them up. At some places (rental stores, mostly), though, this may lead to them trying to sell you a snack combo of some sort.

    4) Upsell back – i.e. offer them better paying jobs where upsale hell isn’t part of their job description. (I’m not sure this one’s legal, but I’d love to see it.)

    5) Come in with the intent of resisting upsells. Be respectful about resisting upsells. Do not, at any time, treat successfully resisting upsells as something to be smug or vindicative over. There’s a reason Best Buy’s doing the whole “categorize customers” thing, and it’s because of the smug jerk upsell-smackdown types who seem to be interested solely in pissing employees off.

    6) (This one’s specific to the cables and such that Best Buy sells alongside PCs, TVs, etc.) Take one trip to ‘learn’ about the product you’re buying. Learn exactly what cables, extras, etc. you need or want for it – then go buy them first. It doesn’t matter were, just have them already. Then, when the guy starts upselling, you can respond, “I already have them.” Unless they’re being actively stared at by their boss at that second, they’ll usually shut up at that point.

    7) If at all possible, make sure that the employee’s supervisor isn’t near them. They’ll be much quicker to stop trying to upsell if not getting monitored at by their boss. It is a sad truth of retail America that supervisors do the customer service more harm than good overall.

  56. Trick says:

    @Nekoincardine:

    As one of the screwed-over wage slaves at these kinds of places, the best way to avoid the upsell, IMO:

    1) Listen and make it clear you ARE listening, THEN say something more than just “no thanks.” If we’re trying to sell you an extended warranty, respond, “I have buddies at my IT department who will fix any error you are able to fix for one tenth of the price.” If we’re trying to sell you RewardZone or similar (Movie Gallery’s Discount Rental cards, coffee shop’s ‘buy five get a sixth free’ cards, etc.) take a second and think if you’re going to show up in the near future here again before saying “I don’t think I’ll be coming here often enough to take advantage of that.” If you listen to the upsell, you’ll usually come up with a decent way to shoot it – in specific – down on your own.

    2) Three attempts should be the limit on rule #1 (and the limit that any store worth your visiting should be trying). After that one, make it more obvious that you’re tuning out and shorten your answers. Do this enough at the same store and eventually they’ll learn that it’s not worth trying. Get your friends to do this one, if possible – once you have a firm ‘three is the limit’ culture amongst a major portion of customers

    3) (This one’s risky and depends on the employee) When they start trying to upsell, grab something small that’s completely unrelated to what they’re selling to you – candy bars at the registers are perfect in most cases. This may shut them up. At some places (rental stores, mostly), though, this may lead to them trying to sell you a snack combo of some sort.

    4) Upsell back – i.e. offer them better paying jobs where upsale hell isn’t part of their job description. (I’m not sure this one’s legal, but I’d love to see it.)

    5) Come in with the intent of resisting upsells. Be respectful about resisting upsells. Do not, at any time, treat successfully resisting upsells as something to be smug or vindicative over. There’s a reason Best Buy’s doing the whole “categorize customers” thing, and it’s because of the smug jerk upsell-smackdown types who seem to be interested solely in pissing employees off.

    6) (This one’s specific to the cables and such that Best Buy sells alongside PCs, TVs, etc.) Take one trip to ‘learn’ about the product you’re buying. Learn exactly what cables, extras, etc. you need or want for it – then go buy them first. It doesn’t matter were, just have them already. Then, when the guy starts upselling, you can respond, “I already have them.” Unless they’re being actively stared at by their boss at that second, they’ll usually shut up at that point.

    7) If at all possible, make sure that the employee’s supervisor isn’t near them. They’ll be much quicker to stop trying to upsell if not getting monitored at by their boss. It is a sad truth of retail America that supervisors do the customer service more harm than good overall.

    1) When I go to store, I know what I want. It is not my job to listen to the your lame plea to get me to buy something. All you get is a no, right away. Don’t waste my time.

    2) One attempt is too many. Doing three just makes you to the be the jerk nobody wants to deal with. You already got my no. What part of no are you not capable of understanding?

    3) I am not going to buy something else to get you to shut up. I already said no. Why are you still being a jerk and trying to sell something I don’t want?

    4) Even if I did need someone to work for me, you would be the last person I would want working for me. I value my customers and expect my employees to respect them. It is obvious you have no respect for customers going by your long filled rant about your suck-a$$ job.

    5) I could care less if you are pissed off or not. I am here to buy something and I have already told you no. If you are so damn stupid you can’t figure that no means no, tough.

    6) If I choose not to spend a week not researching something, I will still say no to your upsell if I don’t want it. Just because I don’t have full knowledge of something doesn’t mean I’m going to let you rip me off or that you now have permission to try and rip me off.

    7) Hopefully your supervisor will be near by, that way you won’t act like a total jerk and waste more of my time. I could care less if your supervisor is a even bigger jerk than you. If you don’t like your job, there are others. If there are not other jobs, that is your problem. I have a great job. This is why I am buying something. Something *I* want, not what you want to sell for whatever your quota demands or gives you an extra buck or two.

    You sound like the crybaby phone support loser who was allowed to rant a week or two ago.

  57. legerdemain says:

    @jeremyduffy: At Sears, I sold credit cards at 3 to 8 times my budgeted level. I would say:
    “Sure, I understand that. I’ve been disgusted to learn credit cards I’ve owned helped animal molesters. That’s why I was very careful to research the Sears card when I started here. I’m happy to say that both the Sears card and the Sears Gold Mastercard are, and have been, completely animal friendly for years now. In fact, the Sears credit division is leading the industry in anti-molestation measures. With all of that in mind, let’s take about five minutes and get you that Sears Gold card so you can get your shovel for free.”

  58. raedances says:

    Yeah, the upsell sucks, but I’m amazed by how many people seem to blame the employee personally. I once worked a holiday retail season at a Toys R Us and can say with certainty that the battery upsell was the most traumatic part of every sale – if you think it’s bad to have to decline the upsell once, imagine having to pitch the upsell for eight hours a day. As mentioned in other posts, cashiers were required to ask each and every customer if they wanted batteries. In some cases, it wasn’t such a bad idea from a customer service perspective – many customers didn’t realize they needed batteries until I mentioned it. That said, pushing batteries on a customer with one or two non-electronic items does nothing but cause ill-will.

    I would’ve been perfectly happy to discreetly ignore the upsell in these obvious cases, except for the fact that every register had a sign posted, letting customers know that if they weren’t asked about batteries, they could get a free drink from the cooler. We were truly screwwed both ways – we got dirty looks from people who obviously didn’t need batteries, and we got harassed by every bored jerk who had been staring at the sign while waiting in the register line. (And if you think that people are unlikely to point out the error, you’ve never dealt with frazzled shoppers in December – I had people blatantly lie in order to scam that $1.25 soda.)

    The problem here lies solely with the corporate offices, not the poor college kids stuck behind the register. Taking it out on them is not going to reclaim your lost time, and it’s not going to change the store policy. You’d be much better off politely declining in-store, and then sending an email to the corporate offices – you might be ignored, but at least those people have the power to change things. I hate hearing the upsell just as much as the next guy, but I’m not going to take it out on the most convenient target either.

  59. Walkallovaya says:

    I empathize with the clerks. Unless I’m a repeat customer… it might not really be an upsell, but I’m snappy with you, CVS clerk. I don’t want your rewards card, and I’ve had to decline repeatedly over the last two years.

    At one point, I had one, but lost it after a month, thereby proving my point – I can’t use a CVS rewards card. I’m not interested. I forget it, lose it, and never get any rewards. STOP offering, please, stop forever.

  60. Poof says:

    Saying “no thanks” doesn’t always work. I can’t tell you how many times I said “No thanks” to a store’s credit card/reward program only to have the cashier continue with their spiel.

    I have sympathy for the employees who have no choice but to offer these upsells. What I do NOT have tolerance for are the ones who won’t stop after I already (politely) decline once.

  61. jeffislouie says:

    quick question:
    Some of you need advice to avoid an upsell?
    Let me save you the time of thinking about this too hard:
    salesman: Can I interest you in…..
    You: No. I want this item only, thank you.
    If they persist, explain that one more word on the subject will sour the deal and lead to you walking out.
    End of concern.
    Seriously, people are really mystified by the upsell?
    What is the deal? Am I taking crazy pills? Maybe I should start.
    Allow me to explain – I work in sales. I upsell because it makes me more money. But more important than that, my goal is customer satisfaction. My customers return to me because I do business ethically and fairly.
    No, refusing the upsell wont put anyone out of business. If margins were that tight to begin with, bankruptcy isn’t too far away to begin with.
    Simply say no thank you and proceed to pay for your item.
    They don’t like saying it either, so cut them slack.
    And if they won’t stop after you decline, tell them in no uncertain terms to shut up or you’ll walk. Think of it this way – they didn’t show you respect by listening to you when you said no, so you don’t owe them the respect of giving them the chance to talk you into it.
    I have and will continue to walk away from deals over this annoyance. But before I leave, I let the manager know exactly why I wont be back.
    If they don’t care, I call the district manager.
    If they don’t care, I’ll write a letter.
    Beyond that, the net effect of my lost business and my willingness to tell everyone I know about the situation is enough.
    You are a consumer. You need not worry about the effect of your reaction to their policies and behavior.