Is it dishonest when bartenders offer expensive drinks without mentioning a cheaper alternative? That question is proving controversial on TikTok, thanks to a viral how-to video in which a bartender explains how to “sell” a margarita.
The video has been viewed more than 734,000 times in just three days and features a simple conversation between a customer and a bartender, posted by the self-proclaimed “waiter and bartender sales expert” @therestaurantlaunch.
When the customer, a character played by TikToker, orders a margarita, the bartender replies, “Did you want to do it with Casamigos…?” Then he leaves the question open, without offering another (and by implication less expensive) tequila brand. The customer immediately says yes and moves on.
Without a second thought, this imaginary customer has now purchased a more expensive margarita than if they had opted for the house tequila. It’s a common type of sales tactic, but some people see it as misleading as it essentially trick the customer into paying more.
@therestaurantlaunch Easy Margarita Upsell! #serverlife #server #waiter #waitress #bartender #serverproblems #restaurant #greenscreen ♬ Head in the Clouds – Carly Pearl
There is a lot of resistance to this technique in the comments – especially from other people with bartending experience.
“Not everyone knows the difference between tequilas,” reads one of the top comments, explaining that they would give the customer the option to use the house tequila instead. Others chimed in with similar comments, such as, “I always ask if anyone has a taste for tequila, they don’t suggest a specific brand. That is dirty.”
Several bartenders and waiters claimed that selling such drinks was dishonest. They prefer to make it clear to the customer that they can “upgrade” their drink with a more expensive brand, but still offer the cheaper version.
However, some other bartenders agreed with @therestaurantlaunch’s method. One user explained, “This is called suggestive selling. I was always taught to do this along with accepting the sale.”
Nevertheless, this strategy was quite unpopular with customers. Scores of people have expressed frustration at ordering expensive drinks without knowing the price—and often commented that they would refuse to tip if a bartender were so misleading.
“Server did this to me once, I docked it from her tip when I realized how expensive it was,” reads one comment.
Another simply wrote, “Great way to not get a tip.”
In response to a commenter calling this a “slightly dishonest method,” the original TikToker @therestaurantlaunch gave a more measured response.
“It really depends on the customers/the restaurant,” he wrote. “If my customer seems like the type of guy who’s confused that they’re extra, then I would use a diff approach.” So even he doesn’t advise bartenders to aggressively upsell.
The Daily Dot reached out to @therestaurantlaunch via TikTok comment.
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*Initial publication: January 5, 2023 7:37 am CST
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in science fiction films and superheroes, she also appears as a film and television critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she is the co-host of the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor
https://www.dailydot.com/irl/server-margarita-upsell/ TikToker shares how to secretly sell a margarita to customers