Upgrading can be downgrading

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Dandy Stevenson.

heavenI just received notice that shoes I ordered on-line last week have been shipped. For some time now, most major retailers with a strong on-line presence (that’s an oxymoron, name a major retailer that doesn’t have a strong on-line presence) have been sending email notices when items have shipped, along with a reliable expected delivery date and time. Even though I have a doorman, and don’t have to fret over packages swiped from a stoop, I very much appreciate this notice.

But today’s notice was different in that it included an option to upgrade my delivery. For an additional fee, I could have my shoes on Wednesday instead of Thursday. I chose the free (read: slow) shipping option when I ordered the shoes, cause I don’t really care if it takes two weeks, so I passed on this new service.

This got me thinking about how years ago the only upgrade consumers were offered were in regards to airline seats. In fact prior to the 1950’s it was a mere noun used mainly by engineers and people who forgot to engage their parking brakes.

But it was the airlines use of the word, to entice rag-tag economy passengers to sit with the fat-cats in First Class, that brought its now mainstream usage. Now, no matter what you do, you are offered the opportunity to upgrade, i.e. spend more money.

Reserve a hotel room, and at least twice, once when you receive confirmation and again at check-in, you are offered the opportunity to upgrade. Supersizing fast food meals is just an upgrade. Rent a car and be asked over and over if you want an upgrade. And of course millions of folks wait not-so-patiently for the day to arrive when they can upgrade their phone from the woefully outmoded device they now have to the iPhone X. I theorize that being asked if you want to donate to the United Fund when you check out at Duane Reade is just another chance to upgrade your purchase. Order an appetizer sized portion at a restaurant, and you are likely to be asked if you want to upgrade to an entrée size. Order 4X6” photos on-line and before you check-out, you’re given the option to upgrade to 5X7s.

What really grinds my gears (I love ‘Family Guy’) is that all these offers are presented as something extra the seller is doing for me, the consumer. When of course, it is just an opportunity for them to squeeze more money out of me. Maybe it’s two sides of the same coin, but I’d be less offended if they just came clean and made a straightforward option, minus the word upgrade.
The way they present in now is downgrading.

Comments are closed.