Friday, June 19, 2009

Hold the Sauce

Up-selling is the practice of trying to persuade a consumer to purchase a more expensive product, or additional related products and services. Salespeople are routinely trained to up-sell you into more than you bargained for because that is how a lot of retail businesses make most of their profits. It's also how you wind up spending more than you should, so stick to your guns and say "no thank you" to these types of up-selling scenarios:

1. When you purchase musical instruments, cars, or consumer electronics, you will almost invariably be offered an extended warranty at the time of purchase. I routinely turn down these warranties because a) I intend to take good care of my stuff, b) the things they are offering to cover may already be covered under the manufacturer's warranty or my own homeowner's/renter's insurance, and c) even if I do need additional warranty coverage, I can almost always find a better warranty deal from a third party rather than getting it directly from the seller of the product.

2. "Do you want fries with that?" "Would you like to try the special (for which no price is listed on the menu)?" "You can super-size it for only 45 cents extra." No thank you. No thank you. No thank you. The meal I ordered is really all I want. Ordering more is not only going to cost extra, it's going to make me overeat and feel uncomfortable.

3. Banks and other financial institutions may try to up-sell you into credit monitoring services, unemployment bill-paying insurance, overdraft protection, and all sorts of other costly extra services. Don't agree to these things unless you really read the fine print and conclude that it's a good deal and something that you really need.

4. Any kind of monthly recurring fee for a service that you are unlikely to use very much is probably a bad deal, even if the monthly amount sounds trivial. Your cell phone provider might offer you the ability to use your phone overseas for only $5 a month, but if you don't travel abroad very often, that basically amounts to throwing away $60 per year. And besides, the calling rates you pay will probably be high even if you do use the service.

All of these up-selling tactics only work on people who don't know what they want. As always, do a little homework in advance and you won't be vulnerable to such tricks.

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