The Hungry Man Eats

An Upselling Experience at Subway


Not too far from the Hungry Man’s workplace is a Subway. It opened almost three years ago and I get over to it once or twice a month. This was a big step forward in my sandwich procurement routine, it was a new addition to the assortment of mom and pop style sandwich places with hot and cold buffets of erratic quality and ethics.

Ethics you say? Well, when you charge for your food on a per pound basis and you choose to slice your cucumber into ½ inch thick slices, you are not coming across as the most ethical of food vendors now are you?

 Normally a trip to Subway is an uneventful affair with blandly polite sandwich assemblers and consistent quality, with surprisingly good bread.

Today was different though, but based on the research I did on the web regarding the issue, I should be surprised it didn’t happen sooner with them. Subway tried to give me a hard and clumsy set of upsells.

Not sure what an upsell is? Well let me give you a quote that is the most infamous upsell: “Would you like to supersize that?”

Upselling, at least in the food service industry, is the dark art of attempting to get you the consumer to spend more by getting more food and drink that you do not necessarily want or need, but often sounds good.

Here are the ways which Subway tried to upsell me today:

  • Extra meat. Somehow, the lady who asked what I wanted somehow misconstrued me saying no while shaking my head in what I thought was a properly negative enough fashion as I assumed she was asking me about whether I wanted my sandwich toasted or not, was actually a hell yes to extra meat. I had to stop her as she was attempting to load it on.
  • Extra cheese. For an extra $1.50 this could be worth it if you love your cheese, but the most you will get is an extra two slices, I said no to this also.
  • A combo, a bigger drink, a cookie, rustproofing my car, a puppy, etc… They sure do pull out all the stops at checkout, now I normally get the combo with the Sunchips and the medium size cup for getting the fresh brewed Fuze ice tea(which is really good tea for fast food) so when they ask if I want a combo, I usually say yes, This one occurs all the time, so I never really considered it an upsell(it is one). Normally this is the only attempt I would receive at an upsell, but there was more to come. I believe the line was, after grabbing my medium size cup: “Would you like a larger cup with your meal, or some cookies or some fruit or anything else?” No, no, no to all…

So, what didn’t they try to upsell me? A foot long, avocado as an add on to the sandwich or asking if I wanted to buy extra sandwiches to take back to my friends/co-workers/loved ones.

Given that I have been going to this Subway for nearly 2 years now and this is the first time I have seen such upselling going on leads me to believe that:

  • They always should have been upselling but weren’t and corporate/the franchise owner gave them a recent tongue lashing, recent because it seemed really awkward for them to do the upsell.
  • The government shutdown is having more of an effect on the chains than I would have expected (I do work really close by to Washington D.C., but had not noticed a drop off in business at other places I grab lunch)
  • Rising costs, their sandwiches are quite a deal for what you get

Anyhow, given that I hate being on the receiving end of an upsell, especially one as cumbersome as they tried to pull off, I may have to steer clear of them for a while as I am not a fan of their approach.


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