Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Dec 17, 2007 04:43 PM

Suggestive selling drives me crazy...

Now I'll be the first to admit that it is a pretty short drive. Was reading the tip jar post and thought of this. I hate those places, chains mostly, where everyone is trained and required to say, "would you like a pastry with that?" I mean I just stood in a line where you forced me to look at your goodies. Do you think I'm not capable of deciding if I'm hungry and want something with my coffee? It comes across as rehearsed and uncaring and selfish anyway.

My favorite thing to do is is say, "I'll have a cup of coffee, please, and nothing else...", and watch for their confused face as they now don't know what to say. If I forget to say that, and they ask if I want cheesecake with my coffee I'll say, "no thanks, but nice try". That gets a laugh.

Your thoughts? Especially good responses to rehearsed suggestions!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It works, that is why they do it. Many times people intended to buy something else and forgot while repeating a special order.

    As far as responses: at this time of year, I ask "which holiday"?

    If there is a challenge, I ask why they don't combine and call it "February Holidays" and have one set of sales instead of separate Presidents Day and Valentines Day...

    1. Jfood's normal response to this question is "No thank you."

      Would you like sugar? leads to "no thank you"
      Leave room in the cup for milk? "Yes Please"
      Skim or Regular? "Skim please"
      They give jfood his change and he says "thank you and have a nice day"

      Sorta stays right on the yellow line going down the Interstate of Life

      2 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        Same here jfood. Lives too short to get irritated over such things. A simple no thanks is all that's needed.

        1. re: scubadoo97

          Agreed. Having to recite that bullshit as part of your work is bad enough, without customers working at deflating your required schtick.

          And if taking the high road doesn't seem rewarding enough all by itself, there's always the factor of not wanting to annoy someone who has access to your food or drink - does that seem like a good idea?

      2. Try to remember that in all likelihood, they are no more happy about saying it than you are hearing it. You hit it on the nose when you say "trained and required..." Giving the deliverer a hard time is just making their job more unpleasant. It is kinder just to go with the flow and be pleasant. If you need to make a statement, make it to someone higher up on the food chain, so to speak.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Val55

          I don't think that the server is even aware of how long you have stood in line. Might it be that they are just happy to help? As for jfood (George Castanza/Sienfeld, et. al.), it's a bit perplexing to those types.....forgive them.

          1. re: Deepster

            Actually, I'm sure that they know how long you have been in line. That can be part of the stress of their job, they don't want to deal with customers that are upset at waiting so long in line. Also, if their supervisor is around and they do not follow the behaviors that they are trained to do, then they can in effect be written up for not doing their job correctly. Most of these kids are young and are doing their best. Personally, if you don't like it, don't blame the messenger, go to the source; send an email or letter to the company and express your opinions. But as others have posted, this is just a part of sales and often does add on to the sale very effectively. Put yourself in their position, maybe you will treat them a bit kinder in respect.

          2. re: Val55

            Exactly. I worked at McDonald's in hs (years ago) and that was one of the five steps of serving a customer. It was a pain and people would get so offended or make nasty comments about it. If we didn't, we would be marked down and wouldn't get our nickel raise every few months--a bad economy makes you desperate to keep a job. Complain to corporate and, if it stops, it'll help out the worker bee, too.

            1. re: chowser

              Same here, "upselling" is what they used to call it. I've also encountered it at a Bank I worked at that required, while I was busy helping a customer with whatever question/problem they called about, to ask if they'd thought of an RRSP, would like an increase to their credit limit or fill_in_the_blank product not yet on client's profile. Dehumanizing for sure and I'd hear about it if I didn't meet my quota. (silly me I thought I was hired to help people not sell).

              I think suggestive selling would be eliminated if staff had anything to do with it; trouble is, it's been proven effective so management has grown attached to it.

              I don't have a witty response to the average "would you like ___ with that?" except a simple "No. Thank you."

              1. re: maplesugar

                Who needs witty when you can be succinct, polite and respectful all at the same time?

                1. re: ccbweb

                  When we come down to it, too, few people are clever enough to come up with a "witty" response that no one else has and when you serve hundreds of people, you hear it too many times to count and yet you're forced to kind of chuckle, at least, the umpteenth time you hear it.

                  1. re: ccbweb

                    Um, I wasn't suggesting I'd ever say anything but a sincere "No. Thank you" service industry jobs are hard enough.

                    The OP asked: "Your thoughts? Especially good responses to rehearsed suggestions!" I just meant that I didn't have any other suggestion other than to be polite.

                    1. re: maplesugar

                      I got that! I didn't mean for my comment to come off as criticizing yours, rather as agreement with it. I was trying to communicate my complete agreement with "no, thank you" and to point out that it is succinct, polite and respectful.

                  2. re: maplesugar

                    I feel badly for those who have to resort to the corporatespeak in dealing with the public. It's hard ENOUGH for servers to deal with the public, without having to spout words put in their mouths by management.


                2. re: Val55

                  exactly, Val. I've been forced to suggestive sell at jobs and hated it, but I wanted to keep my job.
                  I don't see why anyone would want to think of ways to be ruder to those who deal with the public.

                  In my experience, "no thanks" works just fine.

                  1. I'm not talking about someone trying to serve me, or seeing if I want cream with my coffee. Nor do I want to make anyone suffer. I'm just trying to call attention to the frustrations caused by the corporate machine.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: scuzzo

                      Yes, we understand that YOU are frustrated, but your original post is asking for 'good responses' as if you want to make them feel like a fool, bad or less than human for doing their 'job.' If you are so unhappy with the corporate machine, as you say, then as others have suggested, choose to frequent other establishments. Complain to the corporate hierarchy, not the hard worker right in front of you that is just doing as they are told. I agree with Kbee, a simple, 'no thank you' should suffice.

                      1. re: justagthing

                        I agree. I work for the big bad corporate hierarchy (not in food though) and we too are trained to engage in suggestive selling. You have to keep something in mind: these businesses are NOT a non-profit. They are there to make money and adding on a pastry with your coffee is a step in that direction.
                        These people work hard enough as it is and the last thing they need is a snarky retort when they are only trying to do their job.

                        1. re: HungryRubia

                          I was in retail sales as well and yes, we were trained to suggestive sell, but not in such an obvious manner. But my paycheck really did depend on what I sold (commission). Thankfully, my customers were all kind, understanding and respectful. I love that most of the chowers sound like they are kind and treat most others with respect.

                      2. re: scuzzo

                        Then write a letter to corporate.

                        1. re: PeterL

                          PeterL, ever hear the saying 'the fish starts to smell at the head'?

                          1. re: PeterL

                            Corporate doesn't care! It's called "marketing" and if they are making money, they don't care about you! If they did they wouldn't serve us the crap that they pass off as "healthy fare."

                        2. I worked in Starbucks while I was at college; and while I understand that it can be frustrating to have someone recite these lines to you, it's not really the server's fault. They're required to offer a specific product or try and upsell certain items at certain times of the day, and failing to do so during a mystery shopper visit can lead to a telling-off from the management. Just smile, and say "no thanks". FWIW, why do you say "forced (me) to look at your goodies"? Is it a problem to have pastries etc in a display case - surely this makes it easier to know what they have, if you did want some food, than having to ask what cakes they have?