Upselling – the curse of capitalism?

I bought loads of stuff yesterday while out and about — but unusually, only one operation overtly tried to sell me objects I didn’t want, hadn’t asked for and wouldn’t have taken even if they were free — which one of them was.

So many organisations seem to have read the Dummies Guide to Selling and decided that what they must do is sell you stuff the whole time you’re within range. It’s enough to drive you bonkers.

On its own, upselling wouldn’t be that annoying. But combined with everything else, I feel upselling — or selling in general — is now a couple of notches higher on the list of life’s annoyances up with which one must put in a capitalist economy.

I bought a railway ticket. No-one tried to ask if I wanted two, or had I considered this nice ticket to somewhere I wasn’t going. I bought a cup of tea. “Would sir like a currant bun with that? Or a sandwich?”. Didn’t get asked that either.

Then I bought a magazine in WH Smith’s. I try to avoid the place as, in my town, there are other, locally owned and run outlets, and I’d rather support them so the place doesn’t end up looking like Basingstoke or Bracknell.

But in a railway station, your options are limited. Would you like a free newspaper? The Evening Standard? I don’t think so — there are so many things ahead of it in my priority list that I’d have to live to be 1,000 before it even reached the bottom of the list before working its way up.

What about a lump of stuff that this country calls chocolate but the rest of the civilised world wouldn’t, because it’s got precious little cocoa in it and tastes, well, pretty horrible? Nope. See Evening Standard, above. Why can’t they offer me something I might like?

See, this upselling business is OK for the sellers but they’re not taking it far enough. If they watched my buying patterns — I often use a credit card so they can — WH Smith would know that I have never accepted one of its free offers, though of course they’re not free as we pay for them eventually. They might want to offer me a magazine similar to the one I’ve bought, or something complementary.

Instead, it’s all about what they want to sell, not what I might want to buy.

Then I went to the supermarket. No verbal upsell there but a constant barrage of visual stimuli at eye level designed to open your wallet.

I’m always glad to leave. Much like any shopping experience really, I’m only happy when it stops.

What this means is that, if only these people would only stop throwing unwanted things at me, I might be a happier individual and, since I don’t believe I’m all that unusual, it would apply I’m sure to lots of other people too.

So here’s a plea: stop selling me stuff. I’m much more likely to buy something when you don’t sell it to me, but discover it for myself.