Upselling : Would you like some humour with your travel madam?

I hate that I even know what upselling is. I have a train station branch of Pumpkin to thank for that – a notice on the back of an open staff room door, reminding the poor staff to “upsell” at every opportunity.

You know how it goes:

“A tea please”

“Is that a large tea madam?”

“Oh yes please. Good idea just before a long train journey”.

“Would you like a muffin with that madam?”

“Oh yes. Do you know, even though there is a wall of enormous muffins right in front of me as I order it had never occurred to me I might want a muffin. Please add one to my order”.

No of course, it doesn’t really go like that.

Me : “A tea please”

Server : Is that a large madam?”

Me : “No. If I wanted a large I would have asked for one. Isn’t that why regular is called regular, so you don’t have to specify that bloody size?”

Server : “Would you like a muffin with that madam?”

Me: “No. If I wanted a muffin I would have ordered. A. Bloody. Muffin.”

Server : “Butofcoursemadame”

Alright, it doesn’t go like that either. It’s more like this.

Me : “A tea please”

Server : “Is that a large tea madam?”

Me : *annoyed face, wonders what’s the point of the stupid description of “regular” if you still have to specify* “No thank you”.

Server : “Would you like a muffin with that madam?”

Me : *fumes quietly inside, thinking “No. If I wanted a muffin I’d have bloody asked!”*

Server : “No thanks. Just the tea”.


It’s not their fault you see. The sign on the door says they have to. So, 99 times out of a hundred I comply with the stupid ritualistic asking of questions to nobodies observable benefit, dietary, financially or otherwise. Once in a blue moon I mutter a half hearted sarcastic response and feel immediately guilty for taking it out on the poor barista…

Anyway, bearing in mind that these are the internal conversation I have EVERY TIME I TRAVEL TO COURT AND STOP FOR A COFFEE – can you imagine my delight at this new development recently?

Me : “Hello, can I have a return to [unnamed drab town*] please?”

Server :”Will that be first class madam?”

Me : “Er, no. Thanks for the compliment though” (yes, I actually said that)

Server : “That will be £x”

Me : “Do they actually make you say that?”

Server : “Yes, I was disciplined and demoted for not saying it.”

Me : “I think most people who are going to want a first class ticket probably know they want a first clas ticket”.

Server : “Especially when a standard ticket is £x first class is £YYY.”

Me : “They seriously disciplined you?”

Server : “Yes, But fortunately I have a good trade union”. *taps trade union badge on lapel*

Me : “You should probably ask me if I want a muffin with that you know.”

[me leaving]

Server : “Wait – do you need a bus ticket for travel in [destination drab town]”


I love him. He is an asset to his employers because he made a customer laugh.

And in response to being upsold on train tickets I shall henceforth never ever buy a first class ticket on point of principle.

Which is exactly what I would have done anyway, but now I’m doing it defiantly. Without muffins.


* train station and route costs concealed to protect identity of lovely train man.

5 thoughts on “Upselling : Would you like some humour with your travel madam?

  1. I have done mystery shopping and reviews and staff get marked down on every single thing that is not said… right down to, ‘were they wearing a name badge?’, ‘eye contact’…..

    An extremely long list.

    Better do some reviews now…

  2. W H Smiths is a particularly odd one for that. You buy a newspaper and they ask you if you want a Toblerone with that.

    Perhaps this is the thinking behind the new “user friendly” standard court orders (*pace Newman 2014 it is now judicial fact that they are user friendly because the President has determined it)

    You’re in Court to get your weekend contacts restored – would you like to argue about Easter contact as well? How about whether your ex can take the children abroad whilst on holiday?

    • Or possibly at the issue desk :
      “Would you like a Form A with your C100 Madam? It’s two for the price of one.”

    • It’s everywhere.

      Just imagine the next time you are in court and hand your advocates attendance form to the D/CJ and they will ask you, would you like a large bundle with that and do you want an expert cross exam. 🙂

  3. I am wise to this.

    “Small tea to go, please, nothing to eat today”.

    I don’t think they will get marked down for just giving me a small tea.

    And specify the class you want when you buy your ticket before they ask.

    “Standard class single to Blanktown, please, and [smug look as I get my third off] here’s my Senior Railcard”.

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