Too Many Upsells – Is It A Scam?

Updated: September 27, 2022
by Ray Alexander

Often, you will find reviewers complaining about too many upsells in product reviews. When you are looking to buy something, you don't want hidden extra. From a seller's point of view, they may be being helpful to you by selling advanced products to take you to the next level. But do you believe it? From a buyer's point of view, you may feel it's nothing but a sneaky hidden extra. If there are optional products to pay for along the way, you may think you should be told in advance, before even purchasing the main product at all. In that respect, wouldn't blame product reviewers for calling any seller who brings in many upsells a scammer.

Upsells, as well as downsells, are supposed to be an essential part of any sales process, but what do they actually mean to you? Let me explore the basics of downsells and upsells with you.

Too Many Upsells - Is It A Scam?

What Is An Upsell? 

An upsell is a sales strategy where the salesperson encourages a customer to buy additional products or services after the customer has already made a purchase. For a seller, upsells are helpful in increasing the total revenue generated by a business. 

For example, an upsell might be to offer a discount on additional products or services if the customer purchases a product or service that the salesperson recommends.

What Is A Downsell?

A downsell, on the other hand, is an offer to sell a product or service at a lower price than the original price. For example, if you see a product for $100 but decide not to purchase it. The seller comes back to you to offer the same product for $50. In this case, the downsell is a 50% discount. Downsells are often used in conjunction with upsells to increase sales by tempting customers to buy more products or services.

The downselling tactics are often used to sell products of low quality. Typically, when a buyer decides not to purchase it and moves a cursor to close the browser tab, a popup message will appear offering a substantial discount. Or, the seller may send an email to the buyer later on in the day to offer a discount. 

They may attempt to downsell the same product more than once. Essentially, sellers are saying "If you can't afford to pay $100, can you pay $70? How about $50? How about $30, the last chance!" The downselling strategy is considered to be bad because;

  • The lack of integrity creates a negative impression.
  • Downsells would ultimately lead consumers to suspect a further discount and be reluctant to buy anything in the first instance.

What Kind Of Upsell Products Are There?

There are all sorts of upsell products. When it comes to online purchases, typical upsells are;

  • Subscription services: Additional content and bonus features to be distributed monthly, or discounts on future renewals.
  • Upgraded version of products/services: They may be the same products/services that the customer has already purchased but include more features, bundled services, or upgraded for advanced users. 
  • Customized recommendations: Recommended products that are specifically suited to the customer's needs.
  • Conversion tools: Upsells for conversion tools might include tips or advice on how to better convert leads into customers.
  • Extra customer support or VIP access: Upsells for customer support may include discounts or additional services related to resolving customer issues or providing extra ("VIP") support.

Why Do Sellers Believe That Upselling Is Good?

Why Do Sellers Believe That Upselling Is Good

Sellers believe that upselling can be valuable for their business. Here are the reasons.

Boost Sales

Obviously, upsells will result in higher sales totals. This is especially true if the upsells are complementary to the original purchase - i.e. if they help shoppers achieve their goals faster and more efficiently.

Increase Customer Loyalty

When customers feel like they're getting value for their money, they're more likely to stick around. In other words, when businesses offer customers additional value for their money, it builds trust - which can lead to future business opportunities down the road. 

In turn, this can not only lead to increased revenue and longer-term customer base growth. In fact, one study found that upselling results in a nearly 50% increase in customer lifetime value (LTV).

Help Buyers Save Money

Upselling can helps shoppers save money. If they are already considering a purchase of the main product, an upsell that adds on a related service or product can save them money in the long run. This can be especially true if the upsell is of a higher quality than what was expected by the buyers.

Also, it can save buyers money on their overall budget. For example, by purchasing an extra set of batteries instead of purchasing a full pack.

Increase Brand Awareness

By promoting additional products, businesses can help build their brand awareness - which could lead to more customers coming through their doors in the future. By promoting additional services or products, businesses can reach out to shoppers who might not have otherwise considered them - potentially turning them into new customers in the process.

Reduce Wasted Time and Effort 

When buyers are offered value for their money, it can cut down on wasted time and effort spent on shopping elsewhere (or not at all). This frees up resources that could be put toward more profitable ventures - such as increasing sales or expanding customer base growth.

Reduce Marketing Costs

When businesses promote additional products, they can drastically cut down on marketing expenses. This is especially true if the upsells are complementary to the original purchase - in other words, if they help buyers achieve their goals faster and more efficiently.

Upsells - Buy or Avoid?

You've probably been offered upsells at some point while shopping. If you think about it, the "Customers Also Bought..." section that you see on Amazon is an upsell, too. The temptation to buy more products (or services) after a purchase is often strong. But is it really worth the money?

Upsells aren't always bad. If you're not interested in a particular upsell, all you have to do is put your food down and click "No thanks" no matter what they say.

Why Do Reviewers Say Upsells Are Scam?

Particularly when it comes to "make-money-online" products, reviewers often call them scams because of the number of upsells introduced right in your face after the purchase. We can understand the rationale behind it, can't we? Because;

  • You JUST purchased the main product and you haven't even tried it out yet. 
  • The upsell page contains a lengthy video. Again, you JUST made a purchase and want to get on with it, rather than have to watch another sale video.
  • The seller's intentions are unclear apart from trying to pocket more money. They don't tell you exactly why the upselling product will help you more.
  • They often use the phrase "one-time offer", or OTO, only to create a sense of urgency. Nobody sells a digital product only for "one time" when they can market it for a period of time. This implies that the quality of the upsell is inferior so they want to sell it quickly.

How To Decide Whether To Buy An Upsell Product Or Not

How To Decide Whether To Buy An Upsell Product Or Not

Should you buy an upsell product or not? Here are some tips for you.

Don't Make A Decision So Soon

Don't get carried away no matter what you are told by the seller. If you are told that this is your "only chance", then you have every reason to be suspicious.

Make A Decision Based On Your Experience

Are you happy with the main product so far? And do YOU feel the upsell product you're encouraged to buy by the seller is necessary, based on YOUR experience with the main product?

Be Clear About The Product Description

What I mean is that you should be told exactly what the upsell product will do. If the seller only tells you that it's an enhanced version of your main product, such as "help you make 10x more sales", or "20 times faster" without valid reasons, then it's a red flag.

Search For Alternatives

Do a Google search to find what alternatives are available out there. You can keyword search such as;

  • "ABC (the upsell product name) alternatives"
  • "The best email analytics tool" (the type of the upsell product)

Cheaper alternatives don't necessarily mean better, you know? It all depends on the specifications of the upsell product and how much you can trust the seller.

Ask The Seller

If you're still unsure whether or not to buy an upsell, it's best to send a message to the seller and ask your question directly. If they explain the benefits clearly and in a helpful way, then you'll be more convinced. 

Too Many Upsells - Is It A Scam?

I wouldn't say upsells are scams, because some of them are worth the money for sure.

But when a seller presents upsell products one after another, then another... I think you should be warned. You should hear them say "Buy Some more! Anything!" It's not a grocery store, nobody's expected to buy multiple products at the same time. You should be presented with the right product at the right time when needed.


From a seller's point of view, upsells (and downsells) are sales strategies to increase revenue. Don't be fooled by the sales copies! Make sure you make use of the product you bought first. Learn exactly what kind of benefits an upsell product will provide. And if you are confident that it's worth the additional investment, then by all means go ahead and make a purchase. 

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About the author 

Ray Alexander

ASD. Recovering alcoholic. LGBTQ+ advocate. Semi-retired. 15+ years of web-designing experience. 10+ years affiliate marketing. Ex-accountant. I'm nice and real. Ask me if you need any help in starting up your home business.

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