Upselling is a sales technique whereby a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already seen that I’m visiting my mother in Los Angeles and went with her to an AT&T store to upgrade her ancient Samsung flip phone to a shiny new iPhone 4S. The experience was a little exciting for my mom but it was marred by the upselling we were subjected to during the process.
(Though AT&T is not my favorite, my mom is relatively happy with them and had no desire to change carriers while upgrading to an iPhone.)
When we arrived, we were greeted by a chipper girl with an iPad in an open, messenger-style case that was slung over her shoulder. She used it to take down my mom’s name to check her in, telling us that someone would help us in a few minutes.
Rosa*, a woman who appeared to be in her early 20’s with long brown hair and enough make-up to be a Kardashian, came to assist us a few minutes later. We told her what we wanted to do and she took us through the process of upgrading my mom’s line, transferring her contacts from her old phone and explaining everything fairly painlessly. Though she was proficient at these tasks, there were times that I wanted to throttle her with my bare hands.^
As we were going through the upgrade process, my mom mentioned something about a friend having an iPad as she noticed the iPad display against a nearby wall. Rosa paused and took that as an opportunity to show my mom a brand new iPad in a sealed box and tell her about its features.
My mom went along until she heard the price tag (she was already balking about the $20 data plan she needed to add for the iPhone) and declined.
Next, when my mom was handed her shiny new iPhone, she noticed that the screen picked up fingerprints very easily and said so aloud. This launched Rosa into an introduction to some anti-glare screen protectors they sold as well as the new warranty program AT&T now offers that covers accidental damage. I think this is the point when I started to feel the urge to cause someone, namely a young woman with what appeared to be an entire bottle of mascara applied to her eyelashes, some pain.
Not having learned her lesson from my mom’s reaction to the price of the iPad, she explained the warranty in depth. When she got to the price ($9.99 per month), my mom hesitated and looked at me. I half-expected her to voice her frustration at being offered so many extra things to buy at that point, but Rosa’s spiel was better than I thought (that devious wench!) and she asked me if she should buy it. I told her no.
Rosa was not to be deterred, though. When were were almost done and ready to hand over a credit card to finalize everything, she whipped out another goodie. The Jawbone Jambox, a portable Bluetooth speaker. And this is the point when, I’m ashamed to say, my own ears perked up.
A Jawbone Jambox? Hmmm. I’d been eyeing one of those for myself since I’d seen some very good reviews about it when it was released. I like to listen to music when I wash the dishes and clean and normally use a pair of headphones with my iPhone to accomplish this. However, headphones blocking my ears usually leads to my husband scaring the bejesus out of me (complete with high-pitched girl screams) when I don’t hear him enter the room. He always finds this funny. I never do. A Jambox would be helpful to avoid those situations.
Rosa gave us a little demo of the speaker using a smartphone connected via Bluetooth. And it sounded pretty good, matching the impressions I’d seen in the reviews I’d read.
Rosa then said the magic words: “If you’d like to buy this today, we could offer you a deal.”
I looked at her, my eyes narrowed and my entire expression intended to convey suspicion and doubt in an attempt to dare her to give me a deal I couldn’t refuse.
“What kind of deal?” I asked.
“We could offer you a $50 credit on your next bill if you buy one of these now.”
Huh. $50 off? I’d searched for deals on the Jambox myself every now and then and hadn’t found any that steep. Dammit. I was going to bite.
“I’ll take one in black,” I told her. She smiled widely enough that I was reminded of the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week event. I had to stop myself from taking a step back away from her. Her teeth were so white. And big.
So, yeah. She got me. Despite the fact that I knew exactly what she was trying to do (earn commission) and my irritation at her persistence. But my Jawbone Jambox sounds pretty damn good right now as it plays the excellent “1009” by Bonobo as I write this. 😉
*Rosa is not her real name.
^I want to note that I am kidding about wanting to physically hurt Rosa. She was very nice and patient with all of my mother’s questions and in the customer service survey I received afterward, I rated her very highly. The fact that I succumbed to the charms of the Jawbone Jambox she presented was my own fault, not hers.