9 reasons you overspend

The sales tactics are suggestive

The familiar phrase, “Would you like fries with that?” was designed to encourage you to rack up a bigger bill at your favorite burger joint. But it’s not just fast-food employees using suggestive sales techniques – up-selling happens everywhere from clothing retailers to cruise lines.

Even online shoppers aren’t immune, notes Daniel Bartels, assistant professor of marketing at Columbia University in New York.

“You’ll see things like, ‘Would you like to upgrade to premium protection?’ when you order virus protection software online or receive suggestive pitches like, ‘Customers who purchased this item also bought these items,’ when you’re checking out on Amazon,” Bartels says. “Suggestive sales tactics are everywhere.”

The reason up-selling is so ubiquitous is that it works: A study published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing found that insurance agents persuaded more than half of their customers to spend an additional 25% by using suggestive sales techniques.

Smart move: Be aware of the up-sell. Knowing you’ll likely be asked about up-sizing a fast-food meal or adding a warranty on a home electronics purchase – and preparing to decline the offer – is often enough to keep you from succumbing to the sales pitch, notes Bartels.