Is there a word to describe the situation of being forced into paying for something sophisticated and often expensive when you only need a part of it? An example that comes to mind is that of one of the subscription-based online services that offer dozens of benefits but you only purchase it for one or two of them.

Edit: To give an example of how I want this word to be used in a sentence, suppose that a company sells two models of a widget - let's call them A and B. A customer might need more features than what widget A has, but not nearly as many features as model B has. But because there are no models in between widgets A and B, the customer will be forced to purchase widget B and most of its features will go unused. Ideally, this situation could be described with the word I'm looking for in a sentence like

a customer {maybe word} a more expensive model because {maybe word}.

One of the words that was suggested is "upselling", which is very close to what I'm looking for, but it implies that the seller intentionally withholds a cheaper, simpler item in order to make more profit. I'm looking for a word that doesn't imply any intentions, only states the fact that the purchase was an overkill for the task in a situation where there were no other options.

  • There might be too many ways to express that for this site. Word requests should made narrow and specific enough to have only one clearly right answer. Try adding details of research you’ve done, especially solutions you’ve already rejected, and why. Include the desired connotation, register, part of speech, and context in which it is to be used. Generally we want the enclosing sentence or passage.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 18:14
  • @user070221 Avoid answers in comments. They cannot be community edited or peer reviewed. This discourages people from posting actual answers and defeats the core answer ranking process. A better place to post an answer is in the answer box. See: Privileges > Comment Everywhere – Help Center. See also: Is SE enforcing “no answers in comments”? – Meta
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 18:15
  • @MetaEd you're right, thanks for pointing out ways to improve the question. I fixed as best I could, is there anything that I missed?
    – avg
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 18:49
  • This is very common when one is buying certain types of screw or nails or plumbing items. You want what traditionally would have been sold separately but today you have to buy a kit or an entire box full of the item. I understand this question completely. However, I am not sure of fancy/less fancy models: forced to buy a product with unwanted bells-and-whistles.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 21:26
  • 1
    You might find some usable lingo here: forbes.com/sites/ronashkenas/2011/02/16/simplicity-sells/…
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 21:59

2 Answers 2


We often have to buy more than we want due to bundling. There’s a lot of legal and economic literature about its effects, both pro- and anti-competitive. iTunes unbundled music albums, letting people buy just one song off an album. Streaming services have done the same for cable bundles. You might also try “tying” and “coupling”. A razor might be tied to its proprietary razor blades. Cell phone handsets and carriers have historically been fairly tightly coupled, due to different internal radios or whatever, but are increasingly sold “unlocked”.

  • Excellent answer for an important term that has moved beyond jargon of legal parlance and into mainstream English usage. BTW, I am now following you on Github! I am Demeter. Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 5:28

My first two thoughts were:

  1. "bundling"-- as in, bundle packages. You only want to buy a subscription to a streaming service, but the only way you can purchase it is if you buy an entire bundle of streaming services with other services that you don't really want.

  2. "lowballing" or for a noun, "the lowballing technique"-- a sales strategy, it's all the hidden costs that are sprung on you at the end. Car salespeople are great at this. You're told the car will only cost a certain amount and it seems pretty cheap, but once you go to pay, you're suddenly told of all these extra warranty and insurance payments that you have to pay for in order to buy the car. Also can be the case for mattresses, TVs, any big purchase.

  • 1
    "Bundling" was already suggested. "Lowballing" indicates hidden charges. The question asks for words to describe the need to buy something larger to get something smaller. Commented May 15, 2021 at 17:53

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