There seems to be an epidemic going on around cross-selling and up-selling. I am seeing it in far more places on top of the more traditional places like banks, insurance companies, arilines and telephone/ internet service sales, where the customer service people are being asked to push product or bundles of products. I am now seeing it in various stores where the cashier has to push memberships, donations, and additional purchases. My sister, who is such a store representative, says she is made to feel very uncomfortable by the store managment requiring her to push additional purchases. She feels she is driving customers away. She probably is.
I find myself more and more saying these words, “No thank you, I am not interested.” In some cases after the person persists, I say “You have done your job well, but I am still not interested.” Recently, I had to buy new iPhones for my son and me and truly dreaded going into the store. I told my son I will be asked to buy a lot of things, so please be patient. As advertised, I was pitched on various phone/ TV cable/ internet cable bundles along with this and that and some other things. After saying the first quoted phrase a couple of times, I closed with the second one and asked her to let’s stick to these purchases.
Much to my chagrin, something on my son’s phone was set up incorrectly coordinating with the fruit company service and with the technical support not being successful, we had to trudge back into the phone store. While we were being helped, up walks a more senior person, who asks me for my phone number and after looking on my account starts to launch his spiel. I asked him to “Please don’t. I heard all of this ten days ago and am not interested.” With nothing to sell me, he eventually walked away as I was being helped.
Unfortunately, this kind of experience is happening much too often. There is so much time and energy invested to sell us things that we may or may not need. I tell my kids one rule of thumb – the more zealous or frequent the marketing push usually means it is a better deal for the seller than the buyer. Think about that a little. Who tends to push you to buy other products and services the most? Especially, the extended warranty sales – people very rarely use or remember to use these warranties and companies tend to make a very nice margin on them. You are usually better off not buying the extended warranties.
The corollary to this is the more gimmicky the adverstising usually means the product is less utile to the buyer. I am reminded of an old Ziggy comic strip. After seeing a slick advertisement for the new employee benefit package at his company, Ziggy said “Uh-oh, the fancier the presentation, the worse the message.” This holds true in advertising on TV. The companies with the little talking animals tend to have the pricier margins on their products, so beware. I tell my wife they can afford these cute commercials. The advertised products are usually too good to be true.
So, as you think about all of the additional opportunities to buy things, please remember this major rule of thumb. You don’t have to buy anything. You have already made a purchase, so you have already contributed to their bottom line. No, thank you, I am not interested. You need not buy something that has a cute commercial, either. All a good commercial represents is a great advertising firm with a clever idea. Before the market crisis in the fall of 2008, two companies routinely advertised that they were rock solid – Washington Mutual (WaMu) and AIG. Think about the little kid in “The Middle” TV show who slept better knowing his parents bought AIG insurance in a commercial. Today, WaMu no longer exists and AIG would not if it had not been bailed out by us taxpayers.
No thank you, I am not interested. I have spent enough money for today.