Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

October 2016

Barry Goldwater claimed in an address to my senior class in 1961 that he always carried an extra $10 bill to reward any sales clerk who attempted to upsell him. Barry wasn’t the most successful presidential candidate but I kind of liked him. I read recently a collection of his quotes that were touted as giving liberty lovers the tingles. “American business has just forgotten the importance of selling,” was his number Three tingler.

What brought Goldwater and upselling to mind was this weird convergence of experiences. I had been waiting since late May for a refund on a cancelled insurance premium that I had figured to be north of a thousand. Mid August I got the check for south of $700.

No time to explode because it was my turn at grocery shopping. According to some diet guru, stick to outside aisles at the supermarket to eat healthy. I pretty much did, feeling justified to knock the stem off the acorn squash as I went. (You buy veggies by the pound; only reason to leave long stems on the produce is to fall for a sneaky upsell, no?)

Completing a record-paced swing, I approached an empty checkout line and started unloading my stuff. Dog only needed a can but there was a threefer deal (upsell) so that with BOGO Arizona Teas and with all my other stuff unloaded, I looked up at this kid staring at me from behind the register. I was about to give a shrug (international body language for “Whaa?”) when I noticed this sign stating that was a “cashier training” lane.

Wow! Terrific! Here’s a new businessperson launching a career. I had tried to do a reasonable grouping job, although I know the software at checkout will make sure I get all the deals for twofers, threefers, and manager discounts. She didn’t seem real sure how to kick-start the process. Scanned the cans, finally, but she just stood there with the squash. With the veg in her left hand, a plastic pricing sheet in her right, she was stuck. Sensing her problem, the kid at the next register said, “It’s an acorn squash.” She hurriedly put it down, making a face like she was going to hurl (I don’t think she likes squash).

We got through the process together and I tried to end the deal with a little reverse upsell, saying, “Hey, thanks, you did a good job.” She looked at me like I was nuts. I am pretty sure she’s not going to make it to the next level at that store. I am positive she would never reach the upsell level of that guy who sold me the extended warranty I was getting short-sheeted on. She may make her way to slow-rolling refund requests.

It’s a career, too, I suppose. But where would you go for tingles?