EZ Up Sell: Integrity is Worth More

So I’m at a conference this week. I almost never get a rental car, but the hotel is a bit of a drive from the airport in DFW, and the shuttle was $112 one way! For an extra $26 I got a car online through EZ Rental Cars (Or something. Little known company, by me at least.) I arrived at the rental car facility at DFW, approached the desk and presented ID.

In the course of paperwork, the clerk offered me the EZ Toll sensor (Classic up sell), which when placed on the windshield auto pays the tolls around the area. The cost for the rental was about $30, plus the cost of tolls. My route was going to take me east and out of Dallas, so I was not going to be traveling any toll roads. As soon as I declined, the up sell picked up speed. I was told that I needed the device to keep from being charged $50 when I ran a toll booth. Driving around town, there was no way I wouldn’t run onto a toll road, and end up paying more than the cost of the sensor rental.

I am not one to just blindly follow a sales suggestion. I live in Orlando. We have tons of toll roads, and two toll companies to pay (Sunpass and E pass). I know how to get around toll roads. It is not required for people to drive on them. I almost grabbed my cards and went to another rental place, paying more just to not have to deal with a company that would do something this slimy. But, I also don’t like it when sales people try to take advantage of folks from out of town. So I began to probe this assertion, vigorously. I never raised my voice, but I did not let this lie, well, lie. The subjects we covered in the conversation were:

– What roads were toll roads? And weren’t the main highways still free?

– Why could I not pay cash at the tolls booth??

– I used to live in DFW, and never owned a toll sensor, and never got a ticket for running one.

– If, as he said toll gates no longer accepted cash, what were the booths at the airport parking/toll gates where people were handing money to toll employees?

– How did tourists who drive into Dallas/Ft Worth without a sensor not get a $50 ticket if this was required to drive around town?

– If there is no way to drive legal without a sensor, why is it even an option? Just roll it into the price of the car.

– And finally, just to be clear, was he telling me there was no way to drive off airport property without getting a $50 ticket for running a toll?

That last one allowed him to back down. During the conversation the sales guy kept saying that I would invariably get a ticket if I didn’t get the sensor. I refused to believe it. His colleague was sitting nearby, with his head in is hands while this went on.

He replied, that no, I could drive off the airport property without getting a ticket for running a toll. I said I must have misunderstood him then, when he had said just the opposite a few minutes before. He then finished the paperwork, checked the car, and off I went.

I know that was uncomfortable for the salesman. He made a statement that was a lie: I would get a $50 fine without his sensor. Instead of backing off when I pushed him, he pressed forward. Yes, if I ran a toll booth I would get a fine. But depending on where I was driving, I may not need the sensor at all. His lie had put him in a bad place. Maybe he was trying to make up the discount I got from using a booking website. Either way, he was trying very hard, and not being truthful

It didn’t have to be that way. He could have tried to sell me the sensor rental, and if I was driving in areas with toll roads, it might have been worth my trouble to get it. As soon as I said no thanks, he could have backed down. But since he started with the lie, he had no where to go. Short of admitting he had told something short of the truth, he was locked into his lie. That kind of life is no fun. He might have lied to me and gotten an extra $30 for his company, but what would he have personally gained?

Living a life of integrity is much easier, and much more fulfilling. The thing about telling the truth is that you don’t have to try to remember what lie you told. You just tell the truth. There’s no stress. There’s no worry, and you can sleep at night. Whatever short-term benefit you might gain from lying isn’t worth the cost of losing your integrity.

By the way, I arrived at the hotel and didn’t pass a single toll booth.