Adventures in Upselling

Alternate title: Assault of the Manhattan Merchants

What’s with all of the upselling these days? Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a tried-and-true sales technique, but it seems to be more in-your-face than ever.

I ventured uptown today (relatively speaking) to do some quick shopping in anticipation of my mini-vacation to warmer climes later this week. On my quest for cargo shorts I stopped in at the Gap and picked out a pair of boxers. At the sales counter, the saleswoman informed me with a look of concern, “These aren’t the ones that are on sale for $6.50, these are the ones that are two for $20.” I told her that that was fine, but she objected “they’re $12.50 otherwise.” I again assured her that this was not a problem and she flashed me a look that said, “You poor sad, fool. You don’t understand how to shop.” She might be right.

On my way back to the office I stopped by McDonald’s for an apple pie. I’m not a regular at Mickey D’s, but every now and then I get a rare urge for one of those pies. They aren’t as good (or as bad for you) as they were when I was a kid — when they fried them until the filling inside reached temperatures only dreamed of by personal injury lawyers — but they are still pretty hard to resist.

When I asked the woman at the counter for one pie, she replied, “They’re two for a dollar.” I objected weakly, “I only want one,” to which she replied, “one is eighty-five cents, two are a dollar.” In the end I gave in and headed back downtown with two pies and one pair of boxers, so I suppose I came out even. Sort of.

Come to think of it, when I was a young counter-minder at McD’s *gasp* twenty years ago, my instructions were to offer “fries with that” or “a sundae with that,” but I never had the heart to do it. Donald Trump would have fired me instantly.

In any event, I suppose I have no room to complain about manipulative merchanting maneuvers, considering that I am shopping at the likes of the Gap and McDonald’s: clearly, I asked for it.


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