I need a verb or an expression to convey the idea of being sold something unwanted or unneeded. Like when you go to a shop to buy , let's say, a shirt, and they somehow are able to sell you also a sweater (something you didn't ask for and you don't actually need).

As in: - I needed to buy only a shirt but they ...... also a sweater.

Is it appropriate, for instance, to say that they dumped the blouse on me. ?

N.B. Please note that I am not a native speaker and though the expression may come natural to natives, it does not to me. In my research I could find only to dump something on someone but I am not sure if it may fit my context. Thanks

  • "... but they also pressured me into buying a sweater"?
    – deadrat
    Mar 6, 2016 at 10:01
  • "Tricked me into buying more", "Convinced me to buy the blouse too!"
    – NVZ
    Mar 6, 2016 at 10:15
  • 1
    ...but they also baited me into buying a sweater!
    – BiscuitBoy
    Mar 6, 2016 at 11:25
  • Another good example that might help people think of words is when you go in Best Buy to get a piece of hardware and leave with an expensive and useless service plan for it. :-) Mar 7, 2016 at 4:18

9 Answers 9


The words "upsell" and "cross-sell" are both defined below. While upsell is used more frequently, cross-sell may more accurately fit your sample sentence and be applied here.

Upsell - verb

to try to persuade a customer to buy a more expensive item or to buy a related additional product at a discount

They're always trying to upsell you on that jumbo popcorn bucket at the movies.

Cross-sell - verb

  1. to sell or try to sell (similar or related products or services) to an existing customer
  2. to suggest that customers buy additional, complementary, or related accessories or products during or just after their primary purchase


  • I don't think so. Upsell means to sell a more expensive version of a product through upgrades or add-ons. If the OP wanted an ordinary shirt, an upsell would be a designer-label, silk shirt. The OP wants to know what it's called when he walks out of the store having bought the shirt but also a sweater he didn't intend to buy when he walked in the store.
    – deadrat
    Mar 6, 2016 at 10:00
  • I think that it is generally understood that sales associates can be a bit too pushy when they try to upsell things. This suggests that upselling does result in customers ending up with things they do not want. I think it can also be backed up by the example that is given in the link I already posted which is: "They're always trying to upsell you on that jumbo popcorn bucket at the movies." Mar 6, 2016 at 10:16
  • 3
    I think that upsell is fine. From a business point of view, it doesn't much matter whether it was a more expensive version of the originally requested product, an option, an accessory, or a product protection plan. They all enhance the value of the transaction. Mar 6, 2016 at 10:21
  • 1
    A related term is cross-sell: pushing an existing customer to buy more stuff. Mar 6, 2016 at 10:22
  • 1
    You could use upsell if the shirt/sweater combination was a package deal (as in a discount on buying both individually). In the event that a persuasive salesperson convinced you to buy another product, then cross-sold is more accurate. Mar 7, 2016 at 9:57

You could say:

I needed to buy only a shirt but they foisted a sweater on me too.

Quoting Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, foist somebody/something on somebody:

to force someone to accept someone or something that they do not want

Here is an example that's similar to yours:

I have, however, owned several cars—some of which were overpriced, underperforming clunkers foisted on me by slick, high-pressure, promise-'em-everything desperados of the dealerships. Rose Mula, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, Pelican Publishing Company, 2010, p. 181.

If you prefer a milder alternative you could say:

I needed to buy only a shirt but they managed to sell me a sweater too.

I needed to buy only a shirt but they succeeded in selling me a sweater too.


You could say, they twisted my arm to also buy a sweater or I let myself be arm-twisted into buying a sweater too.

twist someone's arm

To persuade someone to do something that they do not want to do He might help us with the painting if you twist his arm. (humorous) Have a cream cake?' 'Oh, go on then, if you twist my arm.

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed.

(idiomatic, by extension) To coerce, force, or cajole (emphasis is mine.)


The woman serving me twisted my arm to also buy the powder, and I sure am glad that she did. BeautyLifeLeah

Alternately, consider:

sweet-talk [someone into doing something]

sweet-talk: To coax, flatter, or cajole (someone)

talk into: v. To persuade to by talking: I talked him into buying the house.

Collins English Dictionary

I needed to buy only a shirt but let myself be sweet-talked into buying a sweater too.

soft-sell (something to someone)

soft′ sell′

A method of advertising or selling that is quietly persuasive, indirect, and sophisticated (opposed to hard sell). [1950–55]

soft′-sell′, v.t. -sold, -sell•ing, adj.

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary

I needed to buy only a shirt but was soft-sold a sweater too.

fob off/palm off/pawn off (something on someone)

v. To get rid of or dispose of something by fraud or deception.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs

I needed to buy only a shirt but they pawned off a sweater on me too, saying it's the best piece money can buy.

lull (someone into doing something)

lull: to give or lead to feel a false sense of safety.

Random House Kennerman Webster's Dictionary

I needed to buy only a shirt but let myself be lulled into buying a sweater too.

  • 2
    That sounds too strong, does it? I am referring to a more subtle way of being convinced to buy something.
    – user 66974
    Mar 6, 2016 at 9:54
  • @Saturana This ain't too strong. Please see my edit. :-)
    – Elian
    Mar 6, 2016 at 10:04
  • 2
    Arm-twisting sounds more like there was some kind of threat or coercion involved, rather than the typical masterful persuasive sales pitch. Mar 6, 2016 at 10:25
  • I was scanning to see if anyone had mentioned hard-sell when I saw your soft-sell. So here I am soft-selling hard-sell.
    – Phil Sweet
    Mar 6, 2016 at 15:33
  • I like "sweet-talked", as it's something I've said occasionally as a native English speaker.
    – Joe L.
    Mar 6, 2016 at 18:56

If the shirt you went looking for was being uses to lure you in, then that's a bait and switch. It generally means that you didn't (often couldn't) buy the shirt you though you were going to buy. I don't have any problem with it as a verb, ie bait-and-switched.

Otherwise, you were roped into buying a sweater.

To persuade someone to do something by means of trickery or deception: A dishonorable salesman roped us into buying worthless property.

rope into. (n.d.) McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. (2002). Retrieved March 6 2016 from http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/rope+into

The definition appears to overemphasize deception and trickery. I personally don't think the sales tactics have to be unethical so much as the buyer has to be gullible.

which brings us to gulled

We were gulled into believing that if we answered the e-mail, we'd somehow become millionaires, but instead we just got put on a list for junk mail


some others -

sucked in


I think you may use to lure:

  • to ​persuade someone to do something or go ​somewhere by ​offering them something ​exciting:

    • Supermarket ​chains ​try to lure ​customers with ​price ​discounts.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • they lured me into buying a sweater, too.

I needed to buy only a shirt but they managed to convince me I needed a sweater too!


to compel or restrain by force or authority without regard to individual wishes or desires

British English: coerce If you coerce someone into doing something, you make them do it, although they do not want to.
VERB He argued that the government coerced him into pleading guilty.


That Time I Was Coerced into Buying A $1,500 Movado Watch

One Tuesday afternoon, I wandered into a nondescript jewelry store on 5th Avenue. The battery in my cheap, old watch had stopped working months earlier, but because I still wore the watch every day (my wrist felt naked without it), people continued to ask me the time (this was before smart phones) and I, forgetting that the battery was dead, continued to read the watch and provide inaccurate information, which always lead to confusion and interrogation as to why I was wearing a broken watch.

Source: https://maddierottman.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/that-time-i-was-coerced-into-buying-a-1500-movado-watch/


They conned me into buying something else.

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    – user140086
    Mar 6, 2016 at 17:13

"They made me an offer I couldn't refuse." This might come off as too strong.

(idiomatic) An offer from one side in a transaction with terms so attractive that the other side is almost guaranteed to accept.

"They were very persuasive. I had no choice but to buy the blouse, too!"

Tending or having the power to persuade: a persuasive argument.

Although unpopular, one of many meanings of "throw on" may be used here, but I won't recommend it.

v. To force something or someone on some unwilling or improper recipient

"The new administrator threw the responsibility on us."

In your case, "They also threw the blouse on me!" I hope people don't take the meaning literally on this one. Or, you may simply say "They made me buy the blouse too!"

If you're looking for something more subtle, try this:

Sweeten (up) the deal

Fig. to make a bargain or a business transaction more appealing by adding value to the transaction.

"The dealer sweetened the deal by throwing in free car washes."

"He wasn't willing to do anything to sweeten the deal, so I left."

"She sweetened up the deal with a little extra money."

  • 2
    I've never heard throw used in this sense. Do you have a cite that backs up your claim? To throw on clothes means to dress hurriedly.
    – deadrat
    Mar 6, 2016 at 9:55
  • 1
    In spite of the example in your link (The new administrator threw the responsibility on us.), I've never heard throw on used to mean to pressure into buying. So I'll ask again: do you have a cite to such a usage? I'm not saying it doesn't exist; just that I've never heard of it.
    – deadrat
    Mar 6, 2016 at 10:10
  • 1
    @deadrat Let's just accept that it is not commonly used, but it's worth noting here and move on.
    – NVZ
    Mar 6, 2016 at 10:12
  • 2
    OK, I'm going to stop being oblique. No, it's not that it's "not commonly used." It's never used in this way. The metaphorical uses of throw all are based on the idea of hurling something. A native English speaker would conclude that "they threw the blouse on me" meant they dressed me hurriedly, not that they pressured me into buying a blouse.
    – deadrat
    Mar 6, 2016 at 10:20
  • 1
    There are more problems with your answer than throw. They made me an offer I couldn't refuse can mean they made me an offer I was afraid to turn down. This via the movie The Godfather. Sweetened the deal doesn't seem quite right, either. In your example, the car washes were free, so they weren't something extra sold: they were given away. Perhaps you should wait until you're at a device with a larger screen.
    – deadrat
    Mar 6, 2016 at 10:44

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