Thursday, August 14, 2014

I just wanted a hamburger

I just wanted a hamburger.  I was hungry.  I was driving by a fast-food restaurant, so I pulled into the drive through and placed my order.  "I'll have a hamburger," I clearly say.  But to get my hamburger I had to refuse a drink, french fries, an apple pie, and a pair of socks.  I might be making up the last one, but after being offered way more than I wanted I sort of zoned out and was saying no to everything!

I'm told it’s a common sales technique called upselling.  It operates under the assumption that the customer really doesn’t know what he wants and if offered more will come upon the realization that they couldn’t live with just a hamburger.  Life will not go on without the apple pie.  Every time I'm upsold my dark side wants to say, "I would have ordered that if I wanted it," but my wife reminds me that would be rude and that the employee is made to read off a script that includes offering you more than what you order, no matter how much you order!  I wonder how much I would have to order not to be upsold.  What if I ordered one of everything?  Would they suggest I order two?  Where does the madness end?

I get a sense of perverted pride when I say, "No" to the annoying upsell.  "You can't talk me into spending more money," I proudly say to myself.  I am a man who knows what he wants and no power of suggestion will sucker me into doling out an additional buck and a half!  I am a master of the upsell - or am I?

The upsell is not just limited to fast-food and the techniques are much more subtle than a teenager trying to super-size an order.  The extra square-footage, the appealing accessory, the second one half off, the lure of higher quality, the temptation of the designer label.  All enticing us to spend a little more than we intended.  All urging us to extend ourselves just a little more for what we deserve.  Sometimes the bait is so hard to resist and we can't help but say, "Yes!"   I must admit I'm much more susceptible to some of these upsells than I am to the apple pie.

It's none of my business how you spend your money, but many a person has fallen into unnecessary debt or has strapped themselves financially by falling for the upsell.  I know because I'm one of them!  We can all benefit from some sound advice from scripture in this dangerous world of the upsell.

The wise king Solomon, who himself seems to have been a victim, reminds us that, "Whoever loves money never has enough" (Ecclesiastes 5:10).   The apostle Paul, writing to his protégé Timothy, explains to him that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" and that an obsession with things often prevents a person from living a generous and charitable life (1 Timothy 6).  Jesus urges people to resist investing in things that inevitably disappear by either the thief's sticky fingers or by the destructive power of moths and rust.  He recommends investing in spiritual riches that have a much longer shelf-life (Matthew 6).

Extravagance and opulence are hard to resist but we must be aware that the upsell usually ends up costing more than what initially meets the eye.   Is it worth the financial stress?  Will this limit my ability to meet needs around me?  Am I expecting some thing to meet a spiritual need that is only satisfied by God?  These are questions we must seriously consider before we upgrade or super-size.

If you want a hamburger, just get a hamburger!

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