/ Money

Would you like a [loan] with that [transaction]?

Picture this. You walk into a fast food restaurant, ask for a tasty burger to sate your appetite, and the assistant asks you if you want fries with that? Upselling like this is pretty harmless, until it’s done badly by your bank.

Upselling and cross-selling happens in every business and it’s not necessarily a bad thing – you’re in the mood to spend and you’re being offered an additional item or service that could complement your purchase and enhance your overall experience.

However, it’s a different story when it comes to financial products. In two recent calls to my bank, I was offered products that had no relation to my original requests, one of which could have been detrimental to my finances if I’d gone ahead.

Benign requests, serious offers

In the first call to my bank, I simply asked when I needed to tell them I was going on holiday so I could use my card abroad without having it blocked. After that query had been answered, I was subsequently offered a credit card on a limited offer. I couldn’t use this credit card abroad without fees, so how could it have benefitted me? I politely declined the offer.

In the second call, I told my bank I no longer wanted paper statements. After they said they’d stopped them – I was told I’d been pre-approved for a loan and asked if I’d want to pursue it. I said yes (out of journalistic interest) and was bounced around various departments and given a range of quotes and repayment costs.

The problem was that the rate I was offered for the loan was around 10% higher than that of my existing overdraft. So if I had needed to borrow some money, why offer me something that was so much worse than what I already had available?

If I had gone ahead with the loan they offered, my interest payments would have been much larger and the loan would’ve left me worse off in the long-run.

Clamp down on sales practices

The financial regulator has said that it wants to crack down on sales tactics used by banks to upsell financial products. In fact, its new chief Martin Wheatley said as much in a recent Convo. We’ve also launched our campaign for Big Change to encourage banks to put service above sales.

There’s nothing wrong with upselling per se – provided what’s offered is really of benefit to the customer. If not, it could end up causing considerable harm to your wallet and your well-being.

What are your experiences of being upsold? Have you ever taken up a bank on its offer to positive or detrimental effect?


Upselling / cross-selling should be allowed to continue, albeit with strong supervision, except that the banks should be banned from doing it, as they clearly aren’t doing it for the benefit of the customer and should lose the right to even try it as a punishment, as they certainly haven’t been punished enough.

My only concern about doing this is that interest for borrowers will probably rise and rates for savers will probably fall. So at the same time maybe Mr Cable could start up another new bank for the people of this country, as he seems to like doing dumb things like that rather than forcing the banks the state already has a large share in do it it for him.

I just switched from a Santander current account to Halifax and they are both as bad as each other when it comes to upselling or ‘upgrading’. Sandander was by far the worse when logging onto their web service as you would always be faced with a huge advert for a loan (along with endless mail shots too), it was only when you found the continue icon (hidden bottom right) could you access your account and ignore their sales advert….. Halifax is similar though not as bad, but rather than just access your account and details – you are still faced with adverts and icons to encourgae you to ‘upgrade’ (i.e. pay for services you don’t need!!!!)