Unnecessary Upsell or Needed Upgrade?

Michael Schroeder
Updated June 17, 2014
(Photos by Anya Semenoff, Katelin Kinney, Blair Bost, Gilbert Bouche and Garage Door Doctor)

Experts advise on how to distinguish between extra services or upgrades that may confer added benefit, and expensive upsells that only add to the bill.

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Do you want fries with that? How about premium brake pads?

Upselling is a part of everyday life. When you buy furniture, the salesperson suggests stain protector. Any electronics purchase comes with an extended warranty offer. When you shop for an Internet provider, the customer service rep suggests adding phone and cable TV service as part of a bundled package to “save money.”

The next time you take your car in for an oil change and inspection, you might be told that nagging squeak is a bigger problem than you thought. And now that you’ve agreed to get new brakes installed, how about ceramic brake pads — for all the stop-and-go driving you do — to replace the worn, less expensive semi-metallic pads in your car?

As a consumer, navigating upsells to find out what’s necessary proves a tall order. Do you really need that additional repair or upgrade? Should you get a second opinion? Though difficult, it's important to distinguish the conscientious service professional recommendation from the seemingly red-flag-waving, you-must-get-this-NOW, high pressure opportunist ploy.

It's comes down to trust.  “You’ve got to find somebody you trust,” says Brad Fred, manager of highly rated Coppell Tire & Auto in Coppell, Texas, reciting a standard rule of the road that drives at the heart of making this distinction.

In addition, though you won't find a guide that covers all situations, there are a few scenarios, questions and suggestions to consider. An upgrade could be your best choice, or you might learn you don’t need it after all. Just remember that, regardless of how much pressure you might feel to upgrade, the choice ultimately remains yours.


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