How to Identify Contractor Upselling and Avoid It

Construction tools depicting contractor upselling

We live in a world of upselling. From credit card offers at almost every checkout counter, to upgraded products and services at the oil change to “would you like to try our new sandwich,” when you go to grab a cup of coffee.

Most of us are used to saying no to those small things (unless we want to try to the sandwich). However, it can be more confusing and awkward to encounter upselling from a professional entering your home to do a specific job.

Does your contractor have your best interest at heart, or is he trying to make an extra dollar? 

How to Spot an Upsell

Because you can’t always be sure which services or products are needed, try getting a second or third opinion – especially if it’s a big thing they’re trying to sell you.

As an example, consider what happened to one Michigan couple. The couple hired a septic company to inspect the system in the house they were going to buy. When the original inspector failed the system and recommended a $20,000 fix, the sellers asked for a second opinion.

The couple got a second opinion from an uncle with a septic business in another state. The uncle found inconsistencies in the written form. The homeowners got a clean report from a new contractor.

Additionally, the realtor found out that the septic inspector had inherited the business from his father and wasn’t running things the way his father had. 

That contractor was banking on the fact that no one else in the situation had septic expertise.

However, the contractor will probably lose business that way. Most reputable contractors know they can’t do that kind of thing and get away with it for long. 

Another good way to spot an upsell is to be present when the work or the inspection is being done. In this case, the buyers and sellers weren’t present for the septic inspection. Have your contractor explain things to you in detail. If he can’t explain to you in detail what’s wrong and how he’s going to fix it, that should raise some red flags.

Later, after the couple bought the house, the uncle with the septic business was able to walk them through a thorough inspection. He was able to tell them every weak point in their system and how to maintain it to keep it running efficiently for many more years. 

What’s Not an Upsell

Not every recommendation – even if it’s going to cost you more money – is an upsell.

For instance, make sure you know what the base price you are quoted includes. For things like carpet cleaning, the base price doesn’t include stairs, which are more expensive. Failure to ask questions and get a cost breakdown can lead to frustrations and a surprise bill. However, it’s not upselling on the service provider’s part. 

Another reason to be present when someone comes to fix your house and get a detailed explanation about what needs to be corrected: you might see that the problem is more significant than you had thought.

Sometimes homeowners believe they have a good idea of the problem, but they don’t. It’s okay to be educated by a professional. If he’s recommending a bigger fix or a nicer replacement part than you were expecting, he will have good reasons.

The real test will be if you are getting pressure to buy something more expensive right now. A true professional will give his recommendation and leave the rest to the homeowner. 

Also, it’s not always an upsell when a contractor recommends a particular brand or a higher-end appliance. There’s a reason we like the products we use: they work well, they’re high quality, and the manufacturer is reputable.

We want to pass on that value to you. If you are worried it’s an upsell, you can always ask, “How does this compare to some of the other brands you’ve worked with?” 

Pro Tips to Avoid Upselling

  • Always beware of high pressure and scare tactics. There a few services or products you need on the same day.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s your home; you can take time to make a decision.
  • Ask questions, do your own research.
  • Find several trusted contractors and get multiple opinions.

Bringing it Home

Upselling is a stressful part of everyday life for many people. You can avoid the pressure tactics by doing your own research, asking many questions, and saying no when you feel uncomfortable.

Is your house located in Southeast Michigan? If you have any questions, we are always happy to help. 

Call today!


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