Is Upselling a Halal business practice?
Upselling is a common practice these days in pretty much all businesses and there are various ways in which a seller will go about trying to get you to spend more money, sometimes without the customer even realising the process they are caught up in. Now as much as upselling itself is not an illegal practice we can still question whether upselling is a halal business practice. Or indeed an ethical business practice as the links between Halal and ethical practice is pretty close.
Firstly let me explain the difference between upselling and cross selling. Cross selling is where you are offered related products to go with the one you have purchased. So, for example, you buy a pair of trainers and the retailer then suggests you may also wish to purchase some trainer whitener to keep them clean. Or maybe an extra pair of laces in a different colour.
The cost of the additional products is usually less than the initial item purchased and the cross sell may occur before or after the initial item is purchased and doesn’t detract from the original use the item is purchased for i.e. you can still wear the trainers straight away and walk around comfortably with or without the cross sells.
In online marketing terms you may have just purchased a course on getting your golf technique perfected. The cross sell here could be some discounted tickets to a golf tournament or some great offers on golfing accessories. Again none of these will detract from the course you have purchased in any way.
An upsell on the other hand is designed to sell the consumer a higher priced product. In the trainers example above the sales assistant may upsell you by showing you some trainers that are twice the price of the ones you are looking at.
They have probably been targeted to sell the higher priced ones as these generate higher revenue for the store. However the final decision is still yours and the options are there before you.
All the above a pretty common practices and, in our eyes, all ethical and Halal business practices. But now let’s take a look at the less ethical side of upselling.
The shadier side of upselling is when you have already purchased an item and are then upsold to a bigger/better and more expensive one. This is becoming a growing practice especially in internet marketing.
Using the golf technique course example from earlier, you have just clicked and paid for this course which will be delivered to you in either PDF or brochure format and you can’t wait. BUT… before you can exit the site you are taken to another page which tells you that you could actually have the very same course but in DVD format which will be so much clearer and easier to understand. And it will only cost you a little bit more!
You decide to go for it, as it does make sense, and you pay once more thinking you can’t wait to start. BUT… you are then taken to yet another page that tells you that to fully understand and benefit from this course you can purchase one to one Skype sessions with a professional golfer. And all for just a little bit more…..
Sounds great you think to yourself, and once again payment is made. You have now spent probably three times as much as you intended to and there may still be a couple of further upsells to come.
Although there is nothing illegal in the sales process used it is completely unethical as had you known all the options beforehand you may just have opted for the Skype sessions without the need to purchase the first two courses.
The upsells may even come days after the original purchase. There have been occasions where some online courses purchased have offered a ‘done for you’ course where most of the work is done by the course supplier, at an additional cost of course. Had this service been offered upfront some students may have opted for it without paying twice.
The frustrating thing is there are now some Muslim Marketers pushing these tactics too when selling their online courses and all just to line their own pockets. How anyone could work with these morals is beyond me.
There is only one Halal and ethical way to sell any product, course or service – Be Upfront!
Include all costs, fees and any future expense that may be incurred. Allow the buyer sufficient time to understand exactly what is being offered and the overall cost along with any risks they may incur.
Final advice is just be careful. There are way too many sharks out there hunting for easy prey. Use common sense and due diligence and if anything doesn’t seem right, for whatever reason, just stay away from it.