9 Infuriating Examples of Downgrades Sold as Upgrades

Downgrade sold as upgrade

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Mature unrecognizable woman scanning a QR code to access a restaurant menu
Carolina Jaramillo/istockphoto

The Downside of Upgrades

Companies bombard customers with opportunities to upgrade all the time. But are these added features and promos actually worth your while? Maybe you need to get the new iPhone, but it means you'll have to give up a headphone jack. Maybe you want to purchase a new video game for $60, but the expansion pack is actually another $30. 

We took a look at some of the most frustrating examples of downgrades that are sold to consumers as upgrades. Have you fallen for any of these?

P. Terry's burger
P. Terry's

1. When Restaurants Drop Burger Prices — and Leave Out the Fries

You've probably seen a local restaurant decide to advertise a new promo that reduces the cost of a burger by a $1 or $2, only to sneakily remove the side of fries from being included as part of the meal. Then you end up paying an extra $5 or more for the side of fries that you wanted all along. This is literally anything but an upgrade. 

ready printer sheet

2. HP Instant Ink

Far too many enraged customers have ended up falling prey to the old "smart printer ink subscription" debacle. Take HP, for instance. If you have an Instant Ink-compatible printer, you can sign up for an Instant Ink subscription. But try to use any other kind of ink — or finish the Instant Ink that's in your printer after your subscription has ended — and you'll likely run into some serious issues. Just check out this thread or this one from some enraged HP customers to get an even more vivid picture of the madness. 

Hotel room

3. Hotel Resort Fees

You'll find hotels with resort fees pretty much anywhere at this point. A resort fee can end up stacking an extra $50 or more on top of the bill that you already owe. 

The issue? These resort fees are positioned as a way to cover services like internet access, being able to make local calls with your room phone, and having access to the hotel’s amenities like the gym or the pool. You’d think that would all be included from the get-go and not marketed as an upgrade, but these are the times that we live in. 

Related: 15 Things You Should Never Do in a Hotel Room

Apple Store

4. Apple Removing the Headphone Jack

Remember that wild time when Apple decided to surprise its customers by unveiling a new line of iPhones that were thinner and without headphone jacks? Strange times, for sure. Apple said that through removing the single-use port, it could free up essential internal space within iPhones to integrate additional components. 

Or maybe, just maybe, Apple was setting the stage for the widespread transition to wireless earphones/headphones, and all the future profits that that could bring them? Seems like that could be a possibility. 

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Amazon Prime box

5. Ad-Free Amazon Prime Subscription

Plenty of willing customers have signed up and paid for Amazon Prime. But then the company went ahead and surprised those same customers with the news that they'll have to upgrade to an ad-free Amazon Prime Video if they wanted to improve their streaming experience. Ridiculous. 

Mature unrecognizable woman scanning a QR code to access a restaurant menu
Carolina Jaramillo/istockphoto

6. QR Codes Being Used Instead of Menus

Sure, there are plenty of people that are regularly attached to their phones, but what if you wanted to go off the grid for a solo lunch? Using a QR code, which some restaurants have described as an improvement over a printed menu, would be impossible. Even if you did have your phone on you, there are hackers that can create fake QR codes that allow easy access to your phone and info. Can we all go back to traditional menus, please?

Mystery Car

7. Touchscreens Replacing Physical Buttons in Cars

Yes, there is an added convenience with being able to use advanced touchscreen technology to adjust something like the bass or treble in your car's audio system. However, making drivers navigate a touchscreen to adjust something like the temperature in their car while they're driving is hazardous. Just take it from this enraged Redditor, who had their own negative experience using touchscreen controls in their car. 

Related: 12 Car Brands You Should Never Buy Used (and Why)

Chat bot  service concept. Virtual assistant and CRM software automation technology. Customer using online service with chat bot to get support.
Galeanu Mihai/istockphoto

8. Automated Customer Service

If you ever needed to troubleshoot an issue with your phone, smart TV, an app, a streaming service, etc. and not been able to get past the gauntlet of customer service chatbots, we feel for you. Chatbot customer service can be literal garbage. While the robot overlords are making steady gains, they're still not comparable to the help and calming reassurance that is provided by a human customer support agent. 

Hot Air Fryer

9. Smart Kitchen Appliances

This one could prove to be a bit divisive, but we're including it on the list because there are plenty of folks that will stand by the fact that simpler appliances are better. Does your air fryer need to be "smart" and have a fancy touchscreen? Maybe not. At some point, numerous companies hopped on the "smart" bandwagon and fully embraced the buzzword. It resulted in what seems to be practically every kitchen appliance you can think of having a "smart" option, even when it's unecessary.