Just Say “No” to Upselling

September 4, 2014 - Christie C
I recently learned a valuable lesson: upselling tactics can derail your savings goals.
While at a fancy salon, I “agreed” to pay a small fortune for a stylist to do a few unnecessary (and unnoticeable to anyone else) things to my hair. It’s as if something in the salon’s air (aerosol, perhaps?) rendered me temporarily unable to resist the stylist’s alluring upselling tactics.
Generally, upselling is used to get you to spend money on a more expensive product or service than the one you intend to buy by adding features or warranties. It’s similar to cross-selling — offering you products from categories other than the product you intend to buy. Although unfortunate for my budget, my latest trip to the salon provides good examples of these tactics:
First, I asked for highlights to camouflage my gray. Looking at my hair, my stylist shook her own perfectly-coiffed head sadly, saying “Oh no. Highlights won’t cover your gray. I’ll mix a dye that closely matches your color.” Me: “… Um, okay. Whatever you think is best.” This was upsell number 1.  
As I watched the stylist roll sections of my hair into tiny aluminum-foil burritos, she mentioned a special glaze treatment she could use “to protect the color and add a nice shine…” My eyes dazzled at the thought of protected color and shiny hair. I yielded; upsell number 2.
Upsell number 3: the offer of a deep conditioner or something whose details were drowned out by the roar of the running faucet. I knew better, but justified the expense, thinking: “It’s been years since I’ve gotten my hair done. If I stretch out today’s cost over many months, the per-month cost might not be so bad …”
With my hair freshly-dyed and highlighted, cut and blown out, I sashayed to the counter to pay the bill. There, the receptionist printed my mile-long receipt, complemented with yet another upsell (number 4): an ultra-luxe brand of hair-care products, stocked enticingly on shelves by the door. She, of course, was “addicted” to this brand and practically couldn’t live without it. Would I like to buy a couple of bottles? Sigh. “Yes, I would.”
Another lesson learned: the upsells were generally not worth it; no one even noticed the work done to my hair! Plus, that’s money I could have put toward my short- and long-term savings goals such as building my emergency fund and saving for retirement.
Common upsells/cross-sells to watch out for:  the classic “Would you like fries with that?” or when buying a car, extra bells and whistles (that you very well might not need) offered by the car dealer.  

Have you experienced an upsell that left you dissatisfied and your savings deflated? Feel free to commiserate and share your words of wisdom!

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