Upselling is bad customer service in any economy. It's okay to recommend a product that you think the customer may enjoy, but customers don't like going into places that are pushy and trying to sell them things all the time. It can scare customers away and also is unfair to employees because it forces them to do something the customer may not like and places unfair competitive practices on them.
I do not see how upselling is irresponsible on the part of business. Business is there to make a profit. If they do not upsell, they do not make a profit. This is a way of doing business and, in most cases, the buyers are aware of what is taking place.
No, I do not think that Upselling in this bad economy is irresponsible on the part of businesses. I think that today businesses need to do everything they can to survive in this economy even if it means to upsell as part of their business. It will help in the long run to keep them a float.
If the economy is to go from bad to good, then businesses need to make money in order to generate more confidence, jobs and economic activity. Any business that starts getting soft or sympathetic and stops focusing on making as much money as it can is going to be doomed eventually.