The 25 Biggest Ways You Are Being Ripped Off

Posted by on February 15, 2012

As much as it stinks to admit, even the best of us get taken advantage of from time to time. While in most cases there is not much you can do about it except fume and blame the system, as a consumer the best thing you can do for yourself is stay informed. Shop around, ask questions, and be a sceptic because these are the 25 biggest ways you are being ripped off.


Movie Theatre Popcorn

Although it costs less than ten cents per ounce to produce, popcorn in movie theaters will typically cost you around $5, which ounce for ounce is more than filet mignon! So why do movie theaters mark their concessions up over 1000%? It’s because they rarely make very much off of the tickets. Most of those profits go right back to the studios, leaving popcorn as their primary source of revenue.


Text Messages

It costs a carrier about one-third of a cent to deliver a text message. Users, however, generally pay between 10 to 20 cents per text. That is a markup of over 6,500%!


All You Can Eat Buffets

The average buffet charges somewhere around $12 per meal. And sure, you can eat all you want but the buffet owner knows that most people’s stomachs can’t hold much more than $7 – $8 worth of fast food. But it’s not fast food you say? Wishful thinking we reply.


College Textbooks

Over the past 20 years textbook prices have increased twice as fast as the annual inflation rate with the average student forking over a ridiculous $900 for textbooks they will probably not even use.


Wine Service At Restaurants

Most people, when taking their date to a fancy restaurant, will not order the cheapest wine on the menu for obvious reasons. Restaurant owners are aware of this which is why you will often find the highest markup on the second-cheapest bottle of wine they serve.


Printer Ink

It’s a classic marketing scheme that you’ll see on this list at least a couple times. You sell one product (like a printer) at a bargain price, essentially losing money and then you turn around and sell everything else that you need to use that product at a significant markup. In the case of printer ink, just make sure you shop around.


Razor Blades

Just like with printer ink, razors are marked up sometimes at nearly 5,000% for very similar reasons. Costing the manufacturers only pennies to produce they are often sold to consumers for several dollars.


“Free” Credit Reports

Evidently most people don’t know that the government requires consumers to be allowed one free credit check per year, which may be the reason these “free credit report” websites are offering their free service…that is already free. Why would they do that? To snag customers on their monthly subscriptions.


Hotel Mini-Bars

Like restaurants, hotel owners understand the human psyche. They know that after a long day of traveling/vacationing people will not want to leave the hotel to go find a snack late at night and a 1,300% markup won’t look so unappealing.


Electronics Warranties

In almost every scenario the price of repairing the electronics is the same as the price of the warranty you are buying and it hardly makes sense to buy something of that sort when you may never need to buy it all.


French Fries At Fast Food Chains

Potato distributors typically charge around 15 cents per pound of french fries while consumers are charged over a dollar for less than half that amount. The middle men (fast food restaurants) snag the profits.


Oil Changes

Although these aren’t always rip offs, a good amount of the time you will find yourself struggling not to pay for needless upsells like “high performance” oil and premature transmission flushes. In some cases you might even end up with an unscrupulous mechanic only partially filling your oil tank. The only defense is caution.


Fountain Soda

Costing restaurants only a small fraction of the price they charge, fountain drinks are a sour deal for consumers. Moreover, the restaurants that overfill your cup with ice and don’t use disposable cups are really making a killing.


Printer Cables

Everyone knows that the price of technology falls over time…in which case printer cables must not be technology. It seems like they’ve always been $30. The reason they are on this list, however, is because outlets like Staples get them for $3 before reselling them for ten times that price. Besides, you can’t use your printer without them.


Restaurant Coffee

This one is really no secret as you can brew yourself a regular 16 oz. cup at home for about $0.50. Of course, maybe the convenience of paying several dollars for a really small cup of coffee is worth it but just remember, by the end of the year this can equate to hundreds of dollars.