Crappy Upselling Tactics: When I Buy Stuff Because I’m Embarrassed Or Because I Didn’t Know How To Say No
The other day I was very stressed out, so Mr. Right-Click arranged for me to have a massage at Burke Williams, a chain of day spas out here in LA. I went back to get my massage, and the masseuse was a woman who spoke English as a second language, and I was having a little bit of trouble understanding her accent at first. She mentioned something about aromatherapy and choosing the scent I wanted. I’ve been to spas before where they ask you to do this before the massage, and so I didn’t think anything of it. But as she was talking it became clear that this was an optional upgrade, and I realized directly after I’d said “OK” that I’d agreed to pay $20 more to get this aromatherapy thing added on, and that I got to take home the bottle of lotion! Lucky me.
At this point, I could have said, “Oh, no thanks, I’m not interested,” because she hadn’t done the massage yet, so I could have backed out. Arguably, this is what I should have done. But I felt stupid. Because I’d already said yes, and I was standing there in my standard-issue spa robe and slippers, with the Enya music floating in the background, and I don’t want to be the person who gets into a thing about the $20 lotion add-on. I’m also a little embarrassed, because it makes me feel cheap to say no to this thing once I find out it costs extra, which is absurd, because of course I should say no to $20 lotion, since if I had wanted a $20 lotion I would have gone in asking for a goddamn $20 lotion up front. But I didn’t say no. Because I’m weak, and a little bit proud, and a massage is already such a decadent thing, right? Why am I fighting about a $20 upgrade?
So I had a massage, and enjoyed it, and sort of forgot about the $20 lotion. Until I went out into the lobby, where Mr. Right-Click has been waiting for me, and he says, “The UPGRADER!”
So I come to find out that the staff at Burke Williams had asked Mr. Right-Click if he wanted to wait until I came out to pay the bill, because I might have decided to get an upgrade or something. And Mr. Right-Click had told them that there was no chance that his wife would take an upgrade. That his wife was always the first to say no to the extended warranty, no to the free trial, no to the 30 days same as cash, etc., etc., and that he was so sure I wouldn’t be getting an upgrade that he would give them $50 if he was wrong. Well, needless to say, he was wrong. So that stupid move on my part ended up costing us $70 extra.
Upselling is a plague. Most of the times we see it, it’s a total waste of time and money, and it’s designed to get an easy buck when somebody’s defenses are down, as was the case with me at Burke Williams. One of the more offensive brands of upselling is, of course, at fast food restaurants, when they ask if you want to try whatever disgusting new food product it is that they’re featuring, or if you want to add on a side of fries. The grocery store near us has started upselling charity donations, and they will ask us as we are checking out if we want to donate to cancer research or whatever, we can just tell them to take our coin change. It’s not that I don’t understand why people upsell, it’s just that I hate it. There are legitimate uses for the upsell, where a more expensive product might actually be better for your needs than the less expensive choice you were leaning towards, but the shady upsellers have ruined it for the rest of us. I walk around in a constant state of suspicion and fear regarding upselling because of these people, except perhaps when I’m in a terry cloth robe.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out what this stupid lotion is supposed to do.