What I Saw at Jiffy Lube Yesterday Made Me Shake My Head

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Jiffy Lube

I was standing outside of a Jiffy Lube the other day waiting for my Jeep to get an inspection. It’s the only service I can’t do myself, so I have to pay someone else to do it. I used to have a really nice guy at a local shop do my inspections, but we are too far away now that we moved. I don’t feel like driving 30 minutes away to get an inspection when I can get one from the biggest oil change chain, which is only five minutes away. As I was standing outside enjoying the light rain, I heard an employee speaking with a customer in line ahead of me. He was also getting an inspection.

Unfortunately, his car failed due to cracked windshield wiper blades. Now, to me that is no problem. I could just jump in my Jeep, drive down to the Walmart, and pick some up for less than $15. Yes, John and I both have a strong distaste for Walmart, but they do have cheap things like wiper blades.

Anyway, as I was standing there, I could feel what was about to happen. The dreaded upsell. The employee was looking at the customer and I think I saw him lick his lips. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. If you aren’t aware, upselling is where an employee will work to sell you higher priced goods or add-on services to your existing order. This is where companies like Jiffy Lube make their money. Many car shops have to do the upsell. They don’t make much money from basic services.

The Jiffy Lube Customer Took the Bait


It didn’t take but a few seconds for the customer to take the bait.  The employee really did a good job with selling the wiper blades. He told the customer he had three versions to choose from and even gave him a “discount.” Now, as I was standing there shaking my head, I realized this customer was just making a quick decision because it was offered to him. He might have not cared about the price (about 3X the price you could buy wiper blades at Walmart) or he didn’t want to deal with it.

Either way, the upsell worked like a charm. In the matter of seconds, this customer went from just getting his inspection done to buying $40 wiper blades just to pass.


Seriously, in a matter of seconds his man lost out on $25 just because he didn’t take a step back and go through the purchase decision. To me, I would rather save the $25 and go get the wiper blades. Yes, you have to take into account the driving and coming back to finish the inspection, but since two car parts stores and a Walmart are across the street, I think we can add a negligible $0.50 to the total, maybe even $1. Still, well worth it in my mind.

Why Upselling Works


I have seen many upsells in my lifetime. I have done quite a few as well. I used to run an online e-commerce company, so upselling was part of the process. Face the facts, a business owner makes more money when they upsell customers. I don’t fault them for doing it, but I do try to be really cognizant of the upsell process. Upselling works because it puts consumers in a spot to make a quick and sometimes rash decision.

In the case of the wiper blades, the employee said he failed and with wiper blades (which they had on site), he could pass and be on his way. The employee did the upsell right. He gave him an option to get him out of the shop quicker. Yes, it cost much more, but it was more convenient.

When consumers don’t have enough time to make proper decisions, especially financial ones, they tend to make poor decisions. We can’t possibly get enough information in the matter of a few minutes to make a good decision. This is what makes upselling thrive in service oriented businesses like Jiffy Lube.

How to Counteract the Upsell


In order to make the best decision you can in an upsell, you have to know you are in an upsell. A dead giveaway that you’re entangled in one is having an employee try to add on other services or say you might want to add this or that to help you. They are typically very nice about it and say it will improve this or save you money down the road. Upselling is incredibly obvious to most of us, but when we are busy and not paying attention, we can let it slip by.

To counteract an upsell, you need to be on your toes and be willing to say no. Saying no isn’t going to hurt anyone’s feelings. If you have ever been in sales, you know you will hear ten “no’s” before you hear one “yes.” That is the nature of the game. With most of us having smartphones in our pockets, we can easily get the required information we need to make a more informed decision. You will need to delay the upsell to do your proper research.

Don’t be afraid to tell an employee to wait while you look up some information about their request. Remember, upselling happens many times a day in almost every industry. “Do you want fries with that” rings a bell for most. Sometimes we fall right into the sell and other times we stand there and shake our heads. The point is upselling can push us to make quick decisions, which aren’t necessarily in our best interest. We have to understand that and work to counteract the art of upselling.


Do you notice when you are being upsold on a product or service? How do you deal with the practice? Looking back, when was the last time you fell for an upsell in a time crunch? If you were facing the same situation today, would you still say yes? 



Photo courtesy of:  ** RCB **

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and iMark Interactive. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial.


  • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

    Upsells are usually a straight trade of money for time. Sometimes that’s the right decision, other times it’s not.

    Assuming what is being upsold is actually useful to you (as in this inspection example) one thing I’ve found useful is to try and get them to price-match from an online source.

    Used to be, most brick and mortar shops were disregarding online price matches, but that is changing rapidly. Especially if you can use a B&M site like

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Good point on the price match. I have done that before a few times. Jiffy lube doesn’t tend to be receptive of that idea when I used it in the past. That’s one reason why I do most of my automotive work myself.

  • Travis @debtchronicles says:

    What this customer bought with his $25 was convenience. Some people just don’t want to deal with doing basic maintenance. Or they don’t know how, and don’t want to learn (or don’t realize how easy it is). I had the same thing happen with a headlight. When the good folks at Jiffy Lube tell me I have a headlight out, and tell me they’d gladly fix it for some inflated price….I just smile and politely decline. Then go by my own lamp for pennies compared to their price.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I agree, it was his convenience. I think that is what Jiffy Lube is betting on. They know that most people just want to get out of there. I have left my car in an inspection before and just walked across the street to pick up a part. I save 60% and install it in seconds. I prefer the savings.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    Ah yes Jiffy Lube. I struggle with this sometimes because my last car really had problems way before it should have and it always makes me wonder if I didn’t do something I should have and done some preventative maintenance, so it’s always tough to know when I should and shouldn’t do something with my car, mostly because I don’t understand cars. Now when I got my carpet cleaned and got the upsell I just kept saying no even though the guy got aggressive. “Oh pet bacteria on my couch…yup, I can live with that!” 🙂

    • Grayson Bell says:

      That is one of the reasons why so many people hate mechanics. They don’t understand the car as well as they could, so they really can get the upsell and fall for it every time. I see it more and more. Most people will try with me, but when I start talking about parts that most wouldn’t know about, they quickly back off.

  • Money Beagle says:

    Often times you are just paying for convenience and that’s probably the case here. I put my own blades on but in the case of the guy here, maybe 1) He knew he would keep putting it off. 2) He didn’t like the lines at WalMart or wherever. 3) He’s had past struggles getting the blades changed out.

    If any or a combination of all of those things is worth $25 to him, then he didn’t get ripped off at all.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I agree there. One thing you can do at Jiffy Lube is buy the part and they can install it. They don’t really even charge for it in cases like wiper blades. Hell, I would have put them on for the guy. Paying for convenience is expensive.

  • Derrick Horvath says:

    Upsells are great…for the business owner. But, sometimes as in the case here maybe the customer doesn’t want the hassle of doing it themselves and an upsell is more favorable for them. I have always known when I was being upsold, but sometimes I weigh what it is and decide hey, that’s right for me.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      They are great for the business owner. I get the convenience factor and that’s why this guy went with it. He just paid a high price for doing so.

  • kay ~ says:

    I probably would have stuck my nose in and told the customer that they could get them for under $20 at Walmart, thereby pi$$ing off the salesman. I like when other customers do that for me. Maybe the salesman won’t like it, but my wallet will. 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    I strongly dislike going to places like Jiffy Lube and Valvoline for this very reason. I know more about cars than most of the people who work there, and they tend to upsell me on things that they have no clue about. I look extremely young and that is definitely to my disadvantage at places like this.

  • Jenna says:

    If he just wanted it done, he probably thought it was worth it.

    I do like going to a local mechanic though. Then, everything feels like it is priced properly. The mechanic costs more but the wipers cost less. I like having a mechanic I can trust a bit more.

  • Brian @ Debt Discipline says:

    He did take the upsell, but he didn’t have to leave go get the wipers, install them and then come back to have the inspection completed. So the trade off was his time for the increased cost. For some that may be worth the additional cost.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I get the convenience factor. When you are talking 5 minutes of your time (Walmart is that close) and saving 50%, I would go with the time. You can leave and Jiffy Lube will keep your car there and finish it up when you get back. I have done it in the past.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Ah Jiffy Lube. The only reason I go there regularly is because there is a manager at one near my house who my wife and I really like. Seriously enjoy seeing the guy and he scaled back the upsell with us as opposed to other managers we’ve dealt with at Jiffy Lube. I won’t even go to Jiffy Lube unless he’s working.

    Anyway I’m sure I fell for an upsell more than a few times in my life, but I think you’re right that with smartphones it should become rarer.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I only go there now because it’s close to my house and I can’t do my own inspections. Otherwise, I do everything else myself.

  • Jason says:

    I’ve been in numerous situations where people try to upsell to me. I listen to what the employee has to say and then I politely tell them “no thanks”.

  • Kim says:

    I probably would have been running and missed the whole scene, but in his case, I would have probably paid the $25 to be done. I don’t like Walmart or Jiffy Lube so adding a trip to both is worth $25 to avoid.

    In general I do realize when someone is trying to up sell, and I usually decline unless it does save time.

  • Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    I hate that upsell tactic because I feel I will not get the right service unless I choose another service or products they are offering. I just say that “no thanks, I will just probably look for another”. However, there are some people who are really good at making someone say “yes”.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      That’s part of the job of the salesman. If you earn a living like this, then you better be good at getting people to say yes.

  • Laurie says:

    I love how the employee used the word “failed” too. Nothing creates panic in most of the human race as the thought that they haven’t lived up to someone’s expectations, which can lead to panic purchases.

  • Syed says:

    It’s also important to realize the type of establishments that upsell regularly. Car places like Jiffy Lube are notorious for that, but restaurants and electronic stores are big on that as well. I love saying no to upsells.

  • Mel says:

    I can’t believe how common upsells are. When I started working as a mystery shopper, I started to notice them everywhere (and give employees props in my head when they did it well… and give shoppers props in my head when they walked away anyway). Prior to that, I never noticed them.

    I’ll be the first to admit though, somewhere like Jiffy Lube is where they tend to get me too, since I don’t have a clue what they are talking about… and they know it.

  • Gretchen says:

    The smartphone tip is a really good one. I find that even if I’m not going to order it from Amazon, I can find a pretty decent baseline price there – and it’s quick, like if I have someone waiting on an answer! Great tips!

  • Alicia says:

    Ugh, don’t get my started at those chain shops. I used to be a fan of my local one until I went in to have my oil change and I asked them to take a look at the suspension. I got a quote for $900 after a $200 repair. Took it to my brother, who is a mechanic, but lives 5 hrs away (I was going home any way) and he said I’d easily pass inspection and that I was getting hosed.

    I know the point of your post is about the upsell, but it irks me that they prey on people not being so well informed and knowing these things.

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