A Rant on Upselling

April 21, 2009

  • At Best Buy it might be a statement from a sales associate along the lines of, “And you’ll be taking the purchase protection plan with the memory card you’re buying for just $9.99 more.
  • At Wendy’s, when ordering a chicken nuggets combo meal, the cashier may ask “Medium or large, sir?” to try to catch me off guard, perhaps making me belive that only two sizes (medium or large) are available rather than the three that actually are (small, medium, and large).  Major deception in my book, and the well-known Consumerist has already reported on this practice.
  • At Quiznos, the cashiers will persistently ask everyone about to pay for just a sub a leading question along the lines of “You’ll be making that a combo today, right?
  • The Tripso travel blog reports on clever upselling techniques employed by United Airlines, where flight attendants use portable credit card machines to let people upgrade their original seating choice to a more premium seat even after the flight has already taken off!
  • At a Staples in Newark, Delaware a few months ago, I wanted to buy an external hard drive that was on a clearance sale for $17 (originally priced at $100).  The drive was out of stock, but the sales person of course brought out another hard drive from the back room retaling for close to $100.  I was not interested, and the store was probably annoyed that I didn’t fall for the bait and switch.

If there’s one activity done by businesses that has the potential to infuriate me more than any other, it’s upselling.  I find it to be extremely objectionable.  For one, the upselling tactics often use psychological appeals based on guilt and power.  When you are at the front of a long line and you’re being upsold to, you might be more likely to agree due to the potential for “looking bad” in some way to the people immediately behind you in line.  Second, the upselling attempts take some amount of time (albeit perhaps only a few seconds, but still) to complete, and there should never, ever, ever be an instance when a customer who is not being dealt with at the moment has to wait even a second longer for help because the sales person is trying to upsell another customer.  Third, agreement by customers to upsell attemps has the potential to interfere with budgeting and money management activities, contributing to the debt carried by some people.

Undoubtedly many of you have been upsold before in a retail setting.

I’m contemplating cancelling my entire purchase attempt the next time someone tries to upsell me something.  “You know what, not only am I not interested in the warranty, I’m not going to be buying this item either.  I’m going home and I’ll buy it from Amazon.com instead.  Thank you for your time and have a nice day!” is an example of the phrasing I might use.   Said loud enough, it might make other people within earshot think about thier shopping experiences as well and might lead to a revenue decline at stores that employ these practices, making them reconsider their operations.


Traffic Report – Fail

April 19, 2009

philly_traffic_april_19This is a screen shot from Traffic.com taken at 7 pm this Sunday evening.

How does someone drive into a King Buffet restaurant?  Isn’t that the kind of news story one would expect to see in Florida at a farmer’s market?

Clean Air Council 5K Run

April 18, 2009

What an awesome spring day in Philadelphia!  No humidity, sunshine, and a high later today in the mid 70’s!

Hundreds of runners came out this morning to enjoy the clean air and scenery along the Schuylkill River. It was also a great opportunity for area residents to learn about Clean Air Council and its numerous environmental programs and to support a worthwhile cause.

And They're Off!

And They're Off!

Cool USB Flash Drives

April 14, 2009

I’ve seen a number of flash drives over the past few years and the quality of them varies considerably.


The ones available from LaCie are very cool; careful attention has been paid to the design.  Should I buy the IAmAKey ( which would fit right onto my keychain ) or the CurrenKey (which might be easy to lose, but looks stunning)?

R.I.P. Harry Kalas

April 14, 2009

Before I became a brother of Kappa Delta Rho fraternity while at Cornell University, I studied the fraternity’s precepts, a set of common-sense guidelines about how one can through his conduct live a virtuous and fulfilling life.

Even though the precepts are specifically tailored to Kappa Delta Rho, they offer some advice that is quite universal:

  • Embrace the principles and spirit of the Kappa Delta Rho Gentleman, treating all those I encounter with dignity and respect;
  • Work diligently in the pursuit of my education, understanding that I am a student first and that the quest for knowledge is an endeavor which will last a lifetime;
  • Meet all of my obligations to the Fraternity in a timely manner, so as to ensure that I am doing my share and that I am not a burden to my brothers;
  • Engage in the service of mankind, not for the praise or recognition that such service may bring, but because it is the right thing to do;
  • Serve as my brothers’ keeper, holding them accountable for their actions as they hold me accountable for mine, and
  • Support my Alma mater, that she may view Kappa Delta Rho as a partner in the development of her students.

Based on my first hand experience listening to Harry Kalas on the radio over the past several years, along with informal on-street discussions with other Philadelphians who had the opportunity to personally meet Mr. Kalas, he appered to be an extremely virtuous, good person.  And Phillies fans and anyone who may have been touched by him in some way will miss him.  All of the children in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware who listened to him on the radio at home or in the car and due to his enthusiasm for the game became interested in learning more about the sport or pursuing it… all of the community organizations that benefited from his volunteer work… anyone who’s understanding of sportsmanship values was strengthened by hearing his accounts of baseball players “doing the right thing” such as paying tribute to members of the Military by removing their hats during the singing of “God Bless America” or shaking hands with opposing teammates after a game.

We won’t forget you!

Go Phillies!

Gay Marriage Trends

April 11, 2009

I came across Nate Silver’s recent statistical analysis of trends in Gay Marriage after doing some morning reading on the NY Times’ Freakonomics blog.

He found that marriage bans are becoming about 2% harder to pass each year… if a given state in one particular year voted 60-40 to ban gay marriage, three years later the vote would likely be 54-46.

He even goes so far as to make predictions based on his model as to which year a marriage ban would no longer be successful in a given state.  Not surprisingly, he hints that over the course of the next 15-20 years, the Wikipedia article “Same-sex Marriage in the United States” will need extensive revisions.

Only time will tell if Mr. Silver’s predictions are right.

Drunk Driving

April 9, 2009

Many people who know me personally know that I’m a pretty serious baseball fan.  Last night, I listened to a little bit of the Angels/Athletics baseball game using the MLB.Com At Bat application on my Iphone.

Now, the starting pitcher for the Angels in last night’s game, Nick Adenhart, is dead 😦  thanks to a (expletive deleted) drunk driver, who didn’t even have the courage to wait for the police to arrive at the scene of the accident.

The Centers for Disease Control has a fact sheet about drunk driving on its web site, and the section on preventing DUI offers a few ideas.  It’s crazy that a blood alcohol level of 0.0799 is technically not high enough for one to be “legally” drunk.  I would suspect that this amount of alcohol in many people is more than enough to be “buzzed”.

Maybe what is needed is a revision of the DUI laws such that any level of alcohol in the body above 0.01, if that driver is involved in an accident, is enough to warrant a DUI conviction (someone pulled over for a traffic violation and who has an alcohol level of 0.02-0.08 would still be dealt with the way they are today).  This would ensure that somoene who is driving home from church on a Sunday around noon would not be breaking the law by having the sip of wine with Communion.  Another possiblity would be requiring a drivers license to be scanned electronically when beverages are consumed at bars and public establishments.  Computing technology on the back end could involve tying the IT systems of police departments into a new database system for alcohol purchases and use and allow for better targeted police enforcement in areas where a large number of photo ID swipes occur.