Upselling: The Scourge of Dining Out

Ready for another cocktail? You know, that sauvignon blanc will be fine, but for another $20… Yesterday, Village Voice critic Robert Sietsema called out a development in restaurant service that he thinks is becoming too dominant: narrative upselling.

How many times have you heard the question, delivered in a wheedling tone, “Have you eaten here before?” Friendly-enough sounding, but the minute you make the mistake of answering in the negative (and often also when you answer in the affirmative), out flows a torrent of advice, pre-programmed. “This is a restaurant where the dishes are meant to be shared, so we suggest you order at least two or three per person.” What the waiter doesn't tell you is that two or three dishes per person is way too much food, and the busboy will be taking half of it away.

The centerpiece of Sietsema's story is a galling sales pitch on a bottle of wine that, had the critic not blocked it, would have bumped up the check $100 more than he was willing to pay.

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