February 25 2010|08.54 AM UTC

Jonathan Rivers

The 12 Biggest Ripoffs in America

Category: Featured, SavingsTags: , , ,


Many of us feel ripped off in our day to day spending, so much so that bringing up even a single rip-off story in a group of people is likely to trigger a flood of them from everyone else. Whether it’s at the movies, in restaurants or on vacation, we seldom believe we are getting as much for our money as we ought to. Of course, some rip-off stories are more debatable than others. Often times, what is called a rip-off is little more than someone’s subjective opinion of what they “really” deserve for their money, whatever that means. However, other purchases actually do appear, by all objective criteria, to be a raw deal just about all the time. Today, BillShrink analyzes some common rip-offs as mentioned recently by CNN Money, that most of our readers are likely to be well acquainted with.

Movie Theater Popcorn

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Movie theater popcorn is as much an American icon as baseball and apple pie. Like a moth to its flame, movie-goers instinctively load up on hot, buttery popcorn before sitting down to enjoy the show. It’s hard to imagine things being any other way. That being said, movie theater popcorn is without question one of the biggest, most egregious rip-offs around. ABC News reported in July 2008 that a small bucket of movie theater popcorn will run you “around $5.50 — more per ounce than filet mignon.” University of California-Irvine professor Richard McKenzie, who wrote a book on this very subject, conjectures that popcorn costs less than ten cents an ounce to produce. That makes the markup somewhere between 900%-1,300%! The reason appears to be that movie theaters do not make much money on actual ticket sales. According to McKenzie, “the theater can be paying 70 or more percent of the ticket price to the studios.” That leaves concessions, like popcorn and candy, as the next logical place to raise prices and recoup some of the revenue being sacrificed at the ticket counter.

Text Messages

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Another rip-off most of us would hate to go without is text messaging. According to Srinivasan Keshav, a computer scientist who testified before the Senate on the matter during summer 2009, text messages cost about one third of a cent each for a carrier to deliver. But despite that cost, the typical pay-per-text plan whacks cell phone users to the tune of twenty cents and ten cents per each outgoing and incoming text, respectively. That equates to an eye-popping markup of 6,500%. Nor do unlimited texting plans completely eliminate the rip-off factor, since the carrier’s overhead is likely to be right around the $10 or so that is usually charged for such plans. Most of the time, the carrier comes out ahead regardless.

College Textbooks

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College textbooks have the unique feature of being a rip-off on at least two different dimensions. First is the price charged to students. CNN cites a study by the Government Accountability Office showing that “textbook prices nearly tripled from 1986 to 2004 — a jump that’s twice the rate of annual inflation over the last two decades.” In fact, the average estimated cost of books and supplies in a given college year is $900, and many students report paying far more than that. However, it’s not just the actual price of the textbooks. In many college courses, the textbooks are never or seldom even used! Savvy college students have found that they can often glean the material needed from the Internet, or simply by looking on with a friend on rare days when the text is being used by the professor. It’s bad enough to be gouged at the checkout counter, but to rarely even use the textbooks takes the rip-off factor to new heights!

Branded Painkillers

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Brand name, over-the-counter painkillers like Advil are sold at a 60% markup, according to Yahoo! Finance. Many will no doubt counter this fact by objecting that yes, the price is higher, but the pain relief is superior. But this is incorrect. As Yahoo explains, the law requires all generic drugs to be just as effective (and even use the exact same active ingredients) as the branded drugs they are modeled after. Yet still, a 50 tablet bottle of 200mg Advil somehow costs $8.49, while Duane Reade charges “just $5.29 for the exact same bottle of generic ibuprofen.” So unlike the age-old “store brand” debate where there is a qualitative difference between a generic and branded product, painkillers are the rare exception of being, literally, the very same product for a lower price.

“Free” Credit Reports

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Admit it – you’ve found yourself humming one of those catchy FreeCreditReport.com commercials at least once or twice. But while the commercials are memorable, the service being offered – allegedly “free” access to your credit report – is an unmitigated rip-off. For one thing, it’s questionable that there is a need for any business to offer such a service, as the government mandates that all consumers can check their credit score history once a year for free anyway. [Ed. Note: You can only check your credit report & history for free once per year, per each credit reporting agency. Thanks to eagle-eyed readers and the friendly call-in!] Beyond that, most of these services unwittingly bilk people into signing up for paid monthly subscriptions that actually charge them for what was supposedly being offered free. Time Magazine reported in November 2009 that the government went so far as to issue public warnings that FreeCreditReport.com and their ilk were not free at all. When you charge money despite the word “free” being in your corporate name, it’s tough to argue that your service isn’t a rip-off to consumers.

Wine Service at Restaurants

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This rip-off rests upon a shrewd appraisal of human psychology by bar and restaurant owners. Most people, when dining with a date, will never order the least expensive bottle of wine on the menu for fear of looking cheap. Instead, they will opt for the second least expensive wine to cover their bases. According to Time Magazine, “restaurateurs know this behavior well, and so they often put the heftiest markup on that second-cheapest bottle.” In fact, the cheapest bottle on the restaurant’s menu might actually cost more if you bought the same thing at a package store. The best course of action is deciding upon a wine that you objectively enjoy drinking (regardless of where you are) and order that without regard for the psychological pricing tactics of restaurants and bars.

Hotel Mini-Bars

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Anyone who has ever paid $2.00 for a minuscule bag of Doritos is already nodding their head in agreement. It’s true: hotel mini-bars are one of the biggest ripoffs around. Here, again, human psychology is taken into account by the hotel operators doing the pricing. Years of experience have demonstrated that the typical hotel guest is tired and weary from a day or more of traveling. Once they arrive, the last thing they want to do is get back into the car and drive around a strange new area looking for a convenience store. In fact, they are so loathe to venture out on the road that paying 1,300% more than usual for candy and soda starts to look like a decent idea after all. Rather than paying such inflated prices, just anticipate that you will want snacks in advance and stop off somewhere before checking in.

All You Can Eat Buffets

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All you can eat buffets thrive on an all too appealing sales pitch: pay once, eat all you want. It might seem difficult at first to find fault with such a generous offer. However, buffet operators do not offer that deal because they’re generous – they offer it because they know their numbers and study their customers. While the typical buffet charges somewhere between $12-$15, they know that that the average customer is not likely to eat very much more than they would’ve purchased for $7 or $8 at McDonalds, despite the fact that they can if they choose to. Furthermore, it’s questionable whether the quality of the food being served is much better than that of a fast food restaurant. Therefore, what often ends up happening is that a buffet’s customers pay for the ability to eat twice as much as they actually eat, on average.

Premium Gasoline

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This one is sure to draw the ire of at least a few people that swears by “premium” gas (when their car doesn’t need it). For whatever reason, many people believe that filling up with premium grade gasoline is somehow “better” for their car, or even that it “cleans out the engine.” Others actually believe that it is essential to put premium gas in their car and that it will malfunction if you try to run it on anything less. For most drivers, nothing could be further from the truth. Just check your car’s owners manual. If you need to use premium gas for a legitimate, mechanical reason, it will be stated in the manual so many times that it will be impossible to miss. Many luxury and performance cars often require premium gas because their high performance engines require higher octane – that is, slower burning – fuel. But if your owners manual makes no mention of it, you are simply wasting money on each premium gallon you purchase.

Actively Managed Investments

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In his book I Will Teach You to Be Rich, personal finance blogger Ramit Sethi writes that “fund managers fail to beat the market 75% of the time.” Not only do they fail to beat the market, Sethi writes, “but they actually charge a fee to do this.” With such a lousy track record of performance, one might expect mutual fund managers to lower the fees they charge. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort is true. It is common for mutual fund managers to charge 1.5%-3% on however much money you invest into their funds. It might not sound like much, but a 2% expense ratio on a $10,000 portfolio means $200 out of your pocket at the end of the year. Index funds, on the other hands, have few or no fees and generally at least match (if not slightly beat) the overall market’s performance year in and year out.

In-Room Movies

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As if gouging you at the mini-bar wasn’t enough, hotels are also happy to help themselves to your money via in-room movie sales. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with offering such a service, the rates charged are hardly what one would call competitive – as much as $10-$15 for a single movie, according to CNN. A Redbox machine, by contrast, will rent you a DVD for as little as $1 a night. A NetFlix account isn’t much more expensive, and streaming movies on your laptop is another inexpensive alternative. In other words, paying for in-room movie service at a hotel is just about the most expensive way to watch a movie imaginable. As with snacks and soda, it’s smarter to anticipate that you will want to watch one before checking in and make less expensive arrangements.

Health Club Memberships

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While not every gym or health club membership is a raw deal, many of them are. In most cases, it’s not the price that’s unjustified but the terms of the contract itself. Bally’s Total Fitness, for instance, hides a clause in their contracts stating that you cannot cancel your membership – even if you lose your job and sincerely no longer wish to use the gym – unless you die or move to a town where there are no gyms. No exceptions are made. Consumer Affairs even reports that a man who provided “military orders sending me to Europe” was denied the ability to cancel his membership. A gym that insists upon charging someone money for a service they are not using and do not wish to use, even when they are given orders to leave the country for combat, is a rip-off in the purest sense of the word!

Printer Inks (Bonus Rip-off via BillShrink Readers)

You’re absolutely right, Shrinkage readers. How could we forget about the abominations that is printer ink — the bane of all consumer existence? As pointed out succinctly by the Oatmeal, and frequently noted by other people on the interweb, printer inks makes us want to scream in silent rage (especially during the checkout aisle at Office-Super-Max-Staple-Depot). Unfortunately for us, printer inks follow the tried-and-true razor blade marketing tactic of offering something at an hugely marked down price (printers) in order to sell something disposable, but needed continually, for a much higher markup price (printer inks).

Alternatives? We suggest finding a printer you can trust that has all the features you’ll need for years to come, and find a good alternative/generic brand ink cartridge set for that particular printer. You should note however that many generic brands may be manufactured from refurbished ink cartridges (there’s a huge industry for this), and at times, some generics or refilled ink cartridges may not work well. Always do your homework before you buy!

Beyond the nine rip-offs mentioned by CNN, we’ve also added in four more rip-offs that makes us cringe. What are some other rip-offs you can think of?

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{ 468 comments… read them below or add one }

smartalec April 7, 2010 at 12:05 pm

A 900% mark up on pop corn that costs 10 cents to make would mean…..A 90 cent sale price. Is multiplying by 9 so hard? No wonder it is so easy to rip people off.

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Anonymous May 28, 2010 at 10:16 pm

10 cents an oz…. they give you FAR more than 1 oz in the bucket… moron…

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Audrey June 6, 2010 at 11:16 pm

bwahaha right on!

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ben dover June 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

who are you calling a moron. Of course they give you more than 1 ounce, they’re saying that’s all it costs to make it, so stop calling people morons, unless you have actually graduated elementary school.
… moron…

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cadegrey July 16, 2010 at 1:22 am

OoOoOoh BURN!

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Anonymous June 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm

No wonder it is so easy to rip people off…. ;-)

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Anonymous is a douch June 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Why do you comment on everything? And it’s all ways douchey!

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BillShrink Guy June 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Actually when you don’t input a name it defaults to “anonymous”

But it’s always easy to be a jerk on the internet when you’re anonymous, I suppose.

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Anonymous June 24, 2010 at 6:51 am

A part of me died reading your comment.

A good part.

Anonymous June 25, 2010 at 10:02 pm

perhaps it was a joke..

math August 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm

900% is (10×2)20×2)40×2)80×2)160×2)320×2)640×2)1280×2)2560×2)=5120
actual markup is about 650%

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matt April 8, 2010 at 9:28 am

bottled water is the biggest scam this countries ever seen..not to mention the fact that the plastic from all the bottle will rot forever in a land fill, continuously poinoning the earth..just buy a damn britta if ur too good for tap water but im pretty sure everyone servived just fine on tap water for decades before someone put the water in a bottle and charged you a dollar for it

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Anonymous June 9, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Matt, obviously you have never been to Houston. Come taste the bayou water filled with outrageously large proportions of known cancerous agents (chloroamines), then talk..

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not anonymous June 24, 2010 at 4:03 am

i watched the show bullsh*t also :P (with water and restaurants)

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Shane April 9, 2010 at 10:21 am

I want to say that premium gas is not a ripoff. On a 120L tank (about 15 gallon) that’s an extra $12.00 per tank. On average I get about an extra 150 kms per tank which saves me about $5.00 a fillup. It’s slightly different numbers for different vehicles but I have tried it with 3 different vehicles I owned. Every one gains enough extra mileage from premium that you are saving money per fill up. Add to that the extra power from higher octane (which is noticeable) and there’s no reason to use lower grade fuel.

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Craig June 10, 2010 at 12:31 am

just be careful when you do that, i have seen some cars blow up because they were run on premium. i think it has something to do with the fact that these engines are made to such close tolerances that if you slow the burn down then the piston blows the heads off

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Anonymous June 15, 2010 at 5:55 pm

read the whole thing before you comment, yes it helps if you have an engine that can use it, no it doesn’t help in many engines, such as not luxury or sporty cars.

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Anonymous June 27, 2010 at 5:49 pm

You just said that you spend an extra $12 using premium, which, per fillup, saves you $5. That means you’re losing $7…

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THE DUDE April 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm

definatly. online cash u have to pay for and stuff like cloths for ur virtual pet that stuff is evil

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Anonymous April 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm

bottled water isnt a rip off if u use it for car trips.

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doesn'tmatter June 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm

even if you use is for a car trip its still a rip off. buy a plastic water bottle from walgreens for 2-5 $ and fill that up with filtered water from your fridge or faucet and it is way less expensive. When you buy an arrowhead water bottle for every car trip, you are being charged sooo much more for water than you would getting it yourself. Brand name bottled water is a rip off no matter what you are using it for.

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Ashley April 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Holy man, aggression problems anyone? Calm down, it’s only an article…

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Skylaark April 13, 2010 at 5:56 am

As if getting totally gouged for printer ink isn’t bad enough, HP cartridges have dated microchips that expire, rendering the cartridge useless WHETHER OR NOT YOU’VE EVEN USED THE INK!! Time to bend over and grab your ankles, kids!!

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kay April 15, 2010 at 7:03 am

for most of those mentioned you at least get ‘something’ . How about service contracts when the warranty on the product already covers it. And often when it is used the repair costs way less than the contract

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Morgan April 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

I don’t really think that Lotteries are a huge rip off like someone else posted. Think about it. A HUGE amount of the so called “profits” go to funding schools, building roads and paying for public services such as police, fire and emergency services. In some states the lottery is better for paying for these services than taxes. The reason for this? Many people that play the lottery live in rural areas and pay little in taxes, or live off of welfare.

I agree that coffee shop coffee is a big rip off though. Starbucks charges $1.50 for a small brewed cup of coffee where as I could buy the whole beans and make an entire pot of coffee at home for the same cost or less using the same beans that they use!

Bottled water is a scam and a total convenience thing. Most bottled water is not any cleaner than tap water.

I don’t agree with the tipping thing at all. That is not true and whoever said tipping is a rip off was stupid. Waiters typically live off their tips. Do you think that you could afford to live in NYC if someone was only paying you $5/hour and you weren’t making any tips? No way in hell. I typically leave a 5-10% tip if the waiter was really rude and bad at his job. If they did a good job or I can tell they are really overworked I will tip really well. Besides going out to eat is not something most of us do every day anyway.

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Ed Smith, Palm Springs, CA April 15, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Some of these people just refuse to accept the facts. The -only- difference between “regular”, “plus” and “premium” at the pump is the octane level. In a regular engine that is not high-performance (high compression ratio), high octane gas does not make your car “run better”. It does not “improve” your gas mileage. It is a scientific fact that the only thing high octane fuel accomplishes in automobiles, is providing high compression ratio engines with the fuel they need to function properly. If you don’t have a high performance engine, premium fuel will do absolutely nothing for you. Those who believe otherwise are only imagining it. This info comes from someone who has worked at Exxon refinery, Chevron refinery and Tenneco refinery, with 15+ years experience and thorough understanding of motor fuels and the engines they run. Merely sitting behind the wheel of a car or repairing their engines makes no one an expert on the above subject.

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Andy April 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Premium fuel when you don’t need it and buffets that you don’t make the most of are not so much a case of business ripping off consumers but consumers wasting money. Theres a big difference.

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trick April 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I’ve often wondered what would happen in the U.S. if everyone at the same time decided that we weren’t going to pay for television. If everyone decided to cancel the cable/satellite TV, do you think that the TV industry would collapse? I doubt it. Paying every month for TV is a ripoff.

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Anonymous June 28, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I’ve often wondered the same things about banks.

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Scott April 19, 2010 at 10:39 am

Some of these are funny, but you clearly have no idea what gasoline octane ratings mean.

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Anonymous October 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Except the article hit that dead on. If you put “premium” in a car that doesnt require it, you’re completely wasting your money.

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Barb April 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

When I lived in China, I got my eyeglasses in a shop, where the shopgirl could instantly get my accurate prescription as I looked into her machine–it was all automatic and free! Why do we not have this advanced machine in the US?? Because eye doctors would lose money???

And speaking of other less-advanced equipment, Cell Phones, anyone? What is up with our crap, have to buy a phone locked into a network system??? And dropped calls all over the place? My Indian camel driver got a phone call in the middle of the desert in Rajasthan, and I can’t even get a signal in my house???

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Anonymous July 28, 2010 at 8:42 pm

We do, in fact, have those machines here. The doctors just use the ‘old fashioned’ method to double check each eye as well as check for astigmatism.
Try to find a reasonable answer before you pick up your picket sign and start exclaiming hatred with multiple question marks when just one would suffice.
Thanks,
The rest of the sane world will much appreciate it.

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Anonymous April 20, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Cash for Gold gimmicks.

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Botchalist July 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm

DING! We have a winner! Cash for gold is not only a rip-off, but anyone who sends them their gold DESERVES to be ripped off. I have seen tests where these people will give you as low as 1/4th the value of your gold. You can get 75% at most pawn shops so stupid is as stupid does.

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Dan April 22, 2010 at 1:52 pm

You can rent textbooks, or you can do what I did. I took a 10 MP camera into the bookstore a couple times a month and photographed a handful of chapters each time, per class.

Total cost: free.

If you don’t want to do it in store, you can buy the books, photog/scan them and then take back the books.

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irony April 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm

and none of them were the claw machines with the stuffed animals and what not inside

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michael neblock April 23, 2010 at 4:07 pm

lol great list, however i learned in material sciences the primary cost of printer ink is the cartridge because the ink dispenser uses a micro machine that is difficult to make. still, im sure that they still charge way more than its worth for it.

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Patrick Welch June 24, 2010 at 7:32 am

Materials Science fills you in on the cost of a lot of little things like that. If only there were more ppl interested in it.

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Hotel Person April 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Regarding Hotel minibars. Hotels still lose money on the ridiculously overpriced goods in the minibar. Why, you ask?

I’ve audited minibar records, almost half of the people that use items from the minibar, complain and lie at check-out that they didn’t use the items. The items are usually adjusted off the bill to avoid a conflict.

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Replikov April 25, 2010 at 7:23 am

Diamonds are one of the biggest scams. I get a kick out of their marketing techniques. Hmmmm how do we sell more diamonds? “One for the past, one for present and one for the future.” Have you ever tried to resell a diamond? Have you noticed that the jewelry stores have a lot of 75% off sales? I imagine the mark up is tremendous on these. Save money and buy Zirconia.

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Anonymous June 11, 2010 at 11:12 pm

I couldn’t agree more. I’ll never understand why it would ever be okay to pay $5,000 for a shiny rock.

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Shogun37 July 25, 2010 at 11:21 pm

And if you add the silly “I love you with all my heart” line, since emotion does not orginate in the heart, it sounds like this : “Here’s a piece of crystallized carbon, I love you with all my pancreas.” Kind’ve makes me well up inside…

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Anonymous June 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm

not to mention that the entire diamond market is based on their rarity when in reality if the De Beers vaults were opened up diamonds would be so common they would be worth nothing..

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jacob April 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Bottled water for sure is on the list. It is a known fact that tap water is regulated far more heavily than bottled water. That means more bacteria in bottled water than tap water. Also, there is a giant price difference, bottled water is anywhere from 1-5 dollars/ bottle, where as tap water is… basically, free.

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Anonymous April 27, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Printer ink for sure. I just printed this blog and used up half a cartridge!

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cb April 28, 2010 at 7:27 pm

whoever said tiping is an idiot. Tip wages are 2.65 an hour. most waitresses/waiters can’t even make 20,000 a year on tip wages + regular wages and overtime….witch is a whole 1.33 extra to make it an even 3.98. good job stupid people who don’t tip. You probably cost that person their rent money that they barly make each month.

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anonymous June 2, 2010 at 7:34 am

its a rip off because the company could pay the worker full wages. They don’t so we as the consumer have to cover whats missing on top of already paying too much for the food.

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gp June 6, 2010 at 2:16 am

Okay don’t tip them. I mean you don’t know them. They are bringing your motherfucking food to you from the kitchen, because your lazy fat ass cannot get up and grab it because you believe you are a king. Their job is pretty easy so they do not get paid well. Like if you ever asked me a complete stranger to pour me a water and explain a menu to you I would just tell you to fuck yourself in the ass. Oh and do not tip the valet either. They just have to sit outside in the cold usually while again your lazy fat ass cannot walk and park the car. Nah don’t tip them because while you sit fucking obliviously in the restaurant they have your keys. If you gave me a complete stranger your keys you could probably say goodbye to your vehicle as well as whatever was in it. Tips ensure quality service and consistency in restaurants. I mean waiters and valet drivers and etc are almost like indentured servants to the customers. And you have to trust them. I hope a waiter rubs his dick on your food one day cocksucker.

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Anonymous June 28, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Tipping is a way for employers to get out of paying taxes. It puts the burden on the employee, they have to work extra hard to get tips then they have to pay taxes on it themselves, state, federal, social security and medicare. Normally an employer would pay half that tax. That is the rip off of tips.

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server June 14, 2010 at 11:17 pm

if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out to eat. it’s a cost of dinning in restaurants and if you feel like you don’t need to tip go elsewhere and stop wasting a servers time

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Anonymous June 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Being a waitress, tips are honestly the biggest part of what pays for my private college tuition. And being a waitress isn’t easy. We are constantly running, lifting, and having to deal with assholes. Yesterday, I worked a 6 hour shift, without a break, outside where it was 90 degrees and I had to wear black. Those $70 in tips I left with are the only thing that make that job worthwhile. We also HAVE to do tip share with the kitchen, food runner, managers, and bar. Meaning if I were supposed to leave with $100 in tips, I would normally leave with $70. Tips are taxed. And in most states, there is a lower minimum wage for servers than all other jobs. When people don’t tip me or tip poorly, it’s a slap in the face especially if I know I was working hard to make their experience good.
The general rule I had before being server is (if your state has sales tax) whatever your meal is going to cost, expect to pay out twice that. If you go to a restaurant planning on that, then there shouldn’t be a problem with tipping out properly.

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Passin Through August 21, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Servers get taxed as if they got 15% whether they did or not. I try to leave at least 20% and will go as high as slightly more than 100%. I don’t do this because I am made of big bucks, I do it because a lot of other people are cheap cretins who want incredible service but think a 10% tip is a big deal. It isn’t … because you sat your cheap butt down in the chair, the server is out 5%. So I, in an attempt at being a decent human being, leave extra on the table.
Now, servers, be honest … I KNOW that you will skip ‘tipping out’ to the other staff if you can. I worked in the kitchen at a first class restaurant for some 6 months and got tipped out exactly one time. And the only reason that happened is because I basically trapped the waitress before she could get out the door with the loot.

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Meg May 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Tampons- it’s cotton and string for pete’s sake.

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Anonymous June 24, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Huge rip off. The tampon companies use the fact that most women become attached to a brand so they have been slowly raising prices and lowering the amount of tampons in a box.
Also, in California at least, non-essential items are taxed while essential items aren’t (so like food stuffs). Condoms are considered an essential item. Tampons (and all feminine hygiene products) aren’t. I’m sorry but sex is a choice. Women (for the most part) can’t choose whether or not they are going to have to use those products.

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MTecknology May 9, 2010 at 12:05 am

“Free” Credit Reports

Don’t forget about the REAL “free” option:
https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

You can only do it 1x/yr but it requires no subscription of cost.

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EC June 24, 2010 at 5:58 pm

http://www.annualcreditreport.com is free and you don’t have to pull all 3 reports at the same time. One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft and check your credit is to pull 1 report every third month. If you see ANYTHING you don’t recognize, report it as soon as possible. Oh, and there is NO site that will give you your credit score at no cost.

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Joe Dude May 13, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I agree with the textbook thing. At the bookstore where I USED to get my books they have a ‘deal’ where you get them at a ‘cheaper’ price than they would normally cost but they won’t buy it back. I paid 60 bucks for a statistics book and thought I got a deal, when I got to class the dude next to me had purchased his online for around $20. I was so pissed, and I can’t even sell it back to them. I can probably find a place to sell it elsewhere though… anyone taking stats next semester?

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Brenden May 16, 2010 at 8:28 am

And real estate / rent. We spend inordinate amounts of energy simply to LEGALLY have a place to sleep at night. Especially where I am

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Mackenzie May 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I just wanted to let you know that I was with Bally for about nine months, and I did lose my job nine months in, and they let me cancel my membership with zero hassle, and even offered to lower my payment every month to $4 to keep my account active without the $29 bill every month (in case I didn’t want to pay the $140 re-enrollment fee, should I wish to re-enroll).

Bally is the furthest thing from a ripoff if you go every day, and take full advantage of their free personal training sessions, their free classes, and the facility.

I very much enjoyed it, and the unfortunate phone call I had to make to cancel the membership was over and done with in under five minutes.

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Anonymous May 20, 2010 at 10:37 am

I visited Austin, Texas for Reggae fest this year and was walking down 6th street looking for food amongst the bars when i found a small cheap looking pizza place, they had the smallest large pizza i have ever seen! and thats not even the bad part, the pizza was 4.50 a slice! idk about other states but in north texas we get pizza from little caesars for 5.55 for a large pepperoni pizza that is twice the size. but with no other cheaper choices i was forced to be ripped off…

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Will May 20, 2010 at 11:02 pm

I’d like to say I went to purchase ink cartridges for my printer and they were asking around $100 for color and black and white. I ended up buying a new printer with cartridges included for around $70. Where is the logic in that?

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Stephanie May 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

“Tipping is a scam of a system. so lets see, thee employer pays you NOTHING, you agree to it, and then you expect me, the customer, who has already paid through the nose for food that is overpriced, to supplement YOUR wage because you gave me “good” service? really? so I should pay you extra to do what is expected of you? lets remember that YOU willingly took a job that pays crap. So, while it is nice to get a tip, it is certainly NOT something I feel obliged to do. seems like the restaurant business needs to do what every other business does, and PAY its employees. I am an electrician. When I come into your home to do work, the costs are clearly laid out for you. I don’t or wouldn’t agree to do hard work for less than its worth. why do servers? and I certainly would not be relying on the “generosity” of my customers to pay me what My work is worth. damn, they are already paying for the job, and the parts.
Servers, wake up and figure out that the job you are doing is worth whatever you agree that the wages for it are. anything extra is a bonus, not a necessity.”

EVERYTHING HE SAID!!!! Thank you Chris for an excellent articulation. Why should we pay for the fact that you CHOSE to take a job that pays you nothing? As I stated previously, I work with human brains and organs. My job is far more challenging than you wait staff could ever comprehend. yet I don’t want or NEED tips because I wouldn’t have taken this job if it didn’t constitute a decent living wage. Why did you?

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gp June 6, 2010 at 2:36 am

Maybe you do not understand the difference. You are an electrician. That requires some sort of education you do not simply become an electrician. Also do you truly enjoy your job? I mean I am a college student and am pursuing a job that I know I will love law. And I have the means to do so. Being an electrician sounds like settling. It would fucking depressing to be for me. But although I say something like this to you I actually have had the experience of humility of being a waiter. And I am going to be incredibly honest, if people consistently didn’t tip they are going to get bad service. And if you say I CHOSE to take a job that pays nothing? It was the only thing available and I had things to pay for. Now if you would like your food to be even more overpriced then by all means DEMAND that restaurants pay more for their motherfucking waiters and waitresses. And then you can have a fast food like restaurant experience especially with people who have my type mentality which is more dominant. I am getting paid already regardless of the service I give. FUCK you if you want a lemon in your water. Fuck you if you want me to explain something complicated about your order to the hispanic chef which I constantly had to explain in Spanish, I would just say we couldn’t do that. Now about you being an electrician. Like there is no difference between a reaaally great work that an electrician does and a shitty one. I mean you either fix the fucking thing or you don’t. I mean realistically also if more people learned about electrical wiring like I did in my freshman year of motherfucking high school in my fucking Lab Science class (in which we actually worked with a live wire although the power was killed to our circuit until we had wired the ground and the “hot wired” properly in our circuit) I mean your job wouldn’t be worth dick. You would probably earn your living sucking dick for nickels. I hope you listen to this instead of just spit out something retarded. You were after all given two ears and only one mouth. I prefer to think you were given two legs and only one head. So you can think less and fuck off.

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Anonymous June 7, 2010 at 10:20 am

Maybe you take the job because its the only employer who will give you a job at the moment and you have run out of money and need to support your family? dont be a jerk, every time you dont tip you could be killing a baby.

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John June 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

You’re all thinking about the tip issue wrong — if everyone didn’t pay tips, restaurants would have to pay more to waiters & waitresses… the prices on the menus would just go up — so instead of the $10 sandwich it would become a $12 sandwich.

On top of that, most waiters & waitresses don’t pay taxes on the majority of their wages (not legally of course)… if a restaurant had to pay the wages, they would have to put a lot more “on the books” and would have to pay a higher percentage of taxes for that labor. This means that the restaurant would have to actually raise the price of the meal more than if you had paid the tax separately… so in a sense, the restaurant is saving you money (in my example above the sandwich may cost you $12.50 instead of $10 + $2 tip).

And as for people “choosing” to take a job that pays less, the only reason restaurants are legally allowed to pay below minimum wage is due to tipping. It’s just the way the industry is run. People “choose” to take the jobs because people do tip. It’s a leftover from an age old system.

It’s like paying $10 for an item and $10 for shipping ($20 total) vs. paying $20 for the item and getting “free shipping” — do you really think you are getting free shipping? Hell no — it’s factored into the cost.

Lastly, how can you tell a waiter/waitress that it is their fault they “chose” to work for a job that paid a measly wage, when you are complaining that you “paid through the nose for a overpriced meal”?? Why did you “choose:” to pay for an overpriced meal in the first place?

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davey May 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm

hearing aids, $4000 to $5000 a pair at a dealer, cost less than $200 to make.
Buy a 2 channel one Siemens etc. on ebay for about $200, behind the ear.

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The Dude May 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Like everything but the one about premium gas. There is no real fact in the paragraph explaining why premium gas is bad for your car. You know why? Because its actually good for your car.

It is a joke about how Shell markets ‘V-Power’, and that it cleans your engine. Their are hardly any cleaners in the premium gas that they sell and studies have proven that.

Studies have also proven that premium gas burns cleaner, provides better fuel economy, and is actually more cost effective in the long run because you won’t have to replace failed fuel injectors or have your valves replaced because they became coated with carbon deposits from cheaper gas.

Its true most cars can run on regular unleaded fuel. But any performance car worth over $50K requires the use of higher octane fuels. If they don’t use premium fuels, detonation and preignition can occur causing severe harm to your engine such as blowing holes threw the top of your pistons, or completely burning out the electrodes in your spark plugs.

Do some more ‘real’ research and talk to actual automotive technicians that have been professionally trained. Seriously.

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Joe June 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Again, you are assuming. Give us reference to some research paper or any studies done on the subject. Just saying “Studies have also proven” doesn’t prove anything.

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BrokeInBC May 27, 2010 at 2:05 am

Real estate in Vancouver, BC :(

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babycakes June 1, 2010 at 3:06 pm

texting …..who really pays by the msg any more?

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Botchalist July 29, 2010 at 2:49 pm

I turned off texting. If some idiot wants to call me, they know my number. Why they hell text in the first place?

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Anonymous June 6, 2010 at 9:58 am

Premium gas a actually is less explosive than regular gas. It reduces mpg in the short term, but provides better mpg in the long run since it keeps your engine clean.

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Anonymous June 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I agree with alot of the list but all you can eat Buffetts are not a rip off. Don’t go there if you can’t hang I usually work in about 3-4 meals when I go to one of those places. If I were eat the same amount at Mcdonalds (ugh) I would be spending at least $24.00.

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Botchalist July 29, 2010 at 2:43 pm

LOL me too! I never get out of a buffet without eating at least $20 of food and most of the buffets around here are like $8 to $9.50.
The trick is to go there at the end of the lunch period so you get the higher priced dinner slop on the lunch price. UMMM UMMM thats goooooood slop.

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Anonymous June 9, 2010 at 9:52 pm

that thing on the buffets is right. they also forgot about the people walking around asking you if you want bread or something like that (aka fillers) they offer around fillers so you get stuffed faster

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anonymous June 13, 2010 at 11:33 am

Gym memberships are total rip offs. For NY Sports Club, they show off in huge print their student friendly rate of $20 a month for Student Memberships, but in small print below that they also mention a $99 sign up fee and a $20 processing fee. So this student friendly fee of $20 a month is actually $119 + $20 a month every month after that. This is ridiculous because most students who want to go to the gym are only home from college for a 3 month period anyway. Its even worse when you consider the NYSC Gold Membership plan can in some areas costs less the than the ‘student friendly’ Student Membership. Total bull.

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john June 14, 2010 at 10:11 am

A 900% mark up on pop corn that costs 10 cents to make would mean a mark up of 90 cents. to get the sale price you have to add on the original cost, leading to a sale price of 1 dollar. however, your point stands. ( i should be revising for calculus atm btw lol)

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Matty D June 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

The biggest ripoff? EVER???

Religion-people actually construct their lives around fairy tales spun by hucksters that offer zero return on investment and cannot guarantee their claims.

How much money and time have been thrown away (or spent on luxuries ‘needed’ by the huckster) since ‘the beginning’? And there’s no way to put a price on your dignity, which is just chucked to the curb.

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Jenni June 15, 2010 at 11:56 am

I don’t like paying tips on meals either. I do, but I think the employer should pay them. The food costs enough I agree.

I think another rip off now too is when you are not getting a service you pay for like our directv, it’s not working but we have to pay to get it to work. I am already paying for the service, provide it! We have to pay for them to come out and fix whatever so we can get the service we are already paying for. It doesn’t make sense to me. Same thing with electric, phone co., ect. You have to pay extra to be covered if something goes wrong where you are not receiving the service you pay for. I think they should be responsible for making sure I get the service I pay for outside of gross negligence on my part like if I go out there and hit the sattelite with a bat or something.

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dave June 16, 2010 at 3:51 pm

premium gasoline IS the biggest rippoff, i work at a airport and just tank jet fuel for my car, makes the old piece of shit reach over 250km/h, no premium fuel did that for it.

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AC June 24, 2010 at 8:40 am

Tanning beds should be on the list. You might pay a month-unlimited fee around $50, but I would guess that most people who buy these packages don’t go every day, or even every other day, and many beds have limited hours. And owners charge prices much higher than that for beds which they claim are superior to the basic beds. The bottles of lotion that they sell can be anywhere between $50 and $100. Considering that the overhead cost of running a tanning bed is so low, these prices are outrageous.

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Ron June 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I agree with all but buffets. They are a good deal.

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kelby June 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm

i actuality have my oun well and i did some math the money i would pay for a replacement britas filter actually exceeds the cost of my well

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Alex June 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Calling any restaurants a rip-off is retarded. Any non-franchised restaurant deserves our support, trust me, unless you are selling huge quantities of alcool, you are not making a damn cent running that restaurant.

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Anonymous July 2, 2010 at 10:20 am

How about TicketMaster’s “convenience” charge on every ticket and then another ridiculous fee on top of that for the convenience of printing your ticket at home rather than having it snail-mailed?

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Richard Ellis July 11, 2010 at 5:16 pm

For printer inks some pharmacy chains like Walgreens offer cartridge refills (black ink). They usually have a special of $9.99 per cartridge. So I suggest saving your recent cartridges and check your local Walgreen ads for the sale. Then stock up. Doens’t help if you run out in between sales but it saves you a little extra money.

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Nate July 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Great List! I have 2 things that need to be out there for readers:

Genaric verses Brand Name Drugs
The statement about drugs, generic v brand-name is almost correct. Under FDA regulations for drug production there is a few issues that are a problematic to patients. The FDA does require that the generic formulation must contain the “active” component the same but not always. The active compound “must be the same “formula” but this is only true at the chemical state (the elemental level). The companies may use anything they want as long as the molecular structures look alike. This can cause major issues for some patients. Patients may respond differently to the “same med” but the result can be catastrophic. There are things like Digoxin and Linoxin. The drugs are the “same” but there are many patients who have life threatening reactions if the med is switched between the brand name to generic and the opposite is also true that the generic is more effective than the brand name. In our practice we have found that this happens more than you would think. When we give WELLBUTRIN and swap it to the generic there have been dramatic differences in effectiveness. Also under FDA guild-lines, a generic is allowed to be less effective than that of the brand name. The stated standard is that the generic must be at least 70% as effective as the brand name option. I like generics in the grand scheme of things, but also must evaluate the efficacy of the meds.

Printers and ink.
I totally agree that this is a ripoff for consumers. After evaluating the options of Laser and ink-jet printers, there is some helpful tools. I found that the ink-jets are a waste of money. I switched over to laser printers. Per print cost is sheet was clear that the laser won. I have found that if you choose bypass low toner and keep printing until you see a difference, you can get at least 2 times more printed sheets than otherwise. (HP has a menu option and Brother does to) If there isn’t an option, take electric tape and cover the window on the cartridge.

Ink-jets- I as well as most of my friends found (carrot or carrot top) head inks online and are great on price as well as standing behind the product. They still believe that the customer is always right.

I hope this helps someone on the posting

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