25 Super Shady Things Companies Are Doing To Rip You Off

Posted by , Updated on December 4, 2023

Whether you live in Sweden, Germany, the United States, or Russia, there is one thing that you can be sure of – you will be ripped off. Human nature all but requires it. Keep in mind, however, these are not scams. In fact, many of them are legal. The key difference though, is that they are not ethical. These are 25 Super Shady Things Companies Are Doing To Rip You Off.




internetSource: consumerist.com

There have been numerous reports about how elderly people still believe they need to pay AOL a subscription fee in order to keep their email address. According to the Consumerist, 2.58 million people still pay for AOL service even though they don’t need it.


Jiffy Lube

car repairSource: nbcnews.com

It’s not just Jiffy Lube, but car mechanics in general are well known for ripping their customers off. In a rather famous NBC investigation, numerous Jiffy Lube shops were caught ripping their customers off by charging them for work that was never actually done. And if they did do it, the work was usually unnecessary. The solution? Learn about your vehicle (google is your friend).


Flight websites

planeSource: businessinsider.com

They charge you different prices based on your browsing history. How? They use cookies and other information.


Free credit reports that aren’t really free

credit cardsSource: thebalance.com

There is one website that you can go to in order to check your credit report. It is annualcreditreport.com. If you go to any other website e.g. freecreditreport.com (they make them sound similar on purpose)…you’re being ripped off. Companies deliberately set these sites up to take advantage of people. You are legally allowed to check your credit at the legitimate website mentioned above 3 times per year.


For profit schools

student debtSource: theatlantic.com

Look no further than the President of the United States. Donald Trump settled his lawsuits against Trump University for $25 million. Online schools make you pay for a degree that quite often is unaccredited or worthless. You’d do better at a community college.


Multi level marketing

pyramidsSource: thebalance.com

From Amway to Herbalife, these companies rip off the most vulnerable members of society. Generally, you are asked to pay some sort of fee for training, materials, etc. They claim that you will quickly get your money back, but guess what? You won’t (unless you rip off your friends and family). Here’s a quick litmus test for you – if a company has to tell you that they are not a pyramid scheme…they are a pyramid scheme.


Bank of America

money signSource: consumeraffairs.com

Although most big banks rip off their customers in one form or another, Bank of America is notorious for “misplacing” important paperwork on home loans and then trying to foreclose. It even had to pay $17 billion because of mortgage fraud recently.

Note: the other banks aren’t any better, hence the 2008 financial crisis.


Geek Squad at Best Buy

computer keyboardSource: gizmodo.com

This goes for any computer repair shop. Most of these places take advantage of computer illiterate baby boomers by charging them hundreds of dollars for a “computer cleaning.” If a computer repair costs more than the price of the hardware plus a couple dollars to cover several minutes of labor…you’re being ripped off. Besides, these days you can buy a new computer for cheaper anyway.

Pro tip: anything with the word “optimization” in it is most likely a huge rip off.


Extended warranties

breach of warrantySource: news.com.au

Almost every company provides optional warranties and almost every company is ripping you off for it. Warranties are a huge money maker for businesses because most people never need or use them, and even if they do, the company quite often rejects the warranty anyway. The only legitimate warranties are lifetime warranties that you didn’t need to pay for. Anything apart from that is a legal scam.


Car rental companies

steering wheelSource: theguardian.com

This goes for Hertz, Enterprise, etc. Watch out for the fees. Typically you’ll find yourself being charged for things like smoking in the car when you’ve never smoked a cigarette in your life. Never mind the reservation fees, pick up fees, drop off fees, insurance fees, etc.


If you think this is a surprising ripoff, wait until you see number 1!



weightsSource: lifehacker.com

Places like Gold’s Gym are notorious for hiding fees in their contracts and making it ridiculously hard to cancel gym memberships. There are even stories of gyms charging people after they’ve already died.


Name brand medication

medicationsSource: scientificamerican.com

This argument can also be applied to name-brand anything, but ripping people off on medication is especially shady. Basically, many drugs are available as pure generics, but companies feed off of people’s ignorance by providing overpriced name brand drugs right along side the cheaper generic options.


Wedding services

wedding ringsSource: huffingtonpost.com

If you just mention the fact that you are planning a wedding, prices will skyrocket on everything from flowers to food. So what can you do? Make it sound like you’re just organizing a run-of-the-mill function, and then when you do have to acknowledge that it is a wedding, ask why the prices are higher.


Health insurance companies

medications moneySource: forbes.com

This is especially true in the US. Why? Because the health insurance companies are run for-profit. You pay thousands of dollars for basically nothing. You still have to pay co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, etc.

Note: most insurance is of questionably integrity, even when it is run by the government. They will do everything they can to not pay you when you need them.


College textbooks

college textbooksSource: washingtonpost.com

They sell them to you for $100, buy them back for $20 dollars, and resell them for $80. Furthermore, your professors are quite often in the pockets of the textbook companies (sometimes they’ll even recommend their own books).


Relationship services

broken heartSource: local.se

This is especially prevalent in lonely, individualistic societies like the Scandinavian countries and the German speaking world. People tend to get scammed by the prospect of finding love online, and the people behind these “dating services” know who to prey on. When you have countries like Sweden, where a higher number of people die alone, it makes sense that more people would be scammed for love.



lottoSource: lifehacker.com

This basically boils down to statistics, but if you look at the math, lotteries are one of the biggest ripoffs ever. You have a better chance of becoming a wealthy CEO (there are more wealthy CEO’s than lottery winners). Some economists have even noted that publicly-run lotteries are little more than a tax on ignorant and vulnerable people.


Fad diets and pseudo-scientific health products

fad dietSource: fda.gov

Many health promoters (like Dr Oz) will talk about miracle pills, diets, cleanses, and detoxes that are supposed to help you lose weight, get healthy, and live a long life. Unfortunately, none of this has much bearing in science or reality. The worst part is that quite often the sickest and least healthy members of society fall for it.


Cable companies

cable companiesSource: gizmodo.com

Whether it’s Comcast or AT&T or somebody else, cable companies are well known for ripping off their customers. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it because they are usually the only service provider in your area. You have no other choice.



taxis in MunichSource: bbc

Even in well reputed countries, taxi ripoffs are surprisingly common. Usually they make their money by confusing or hiding their fees. Yet another reason to use an alternative service like Uber, even if you think you’re in a “clean” society.


Car dealerships

car dealershipSource: businessinsider.com

This isn’t really a secret, but if you walk into a car dealership without knowing exactly what you want, you’re most likely going to walk out with more than you bargained for. You have to decide what you want beforehand in order to resist the up-sells and ripoffs.


Career sites

job applicationSource: thebalance.com

Many of these websites, like Monster and CareerBuilder will sell your information to the highest bidder whether or not you find a job.


Electronics companies

power adapterSource: lifehacker.com

Companies like Apple create their own proprietary connectors and cables so that if you upgrade your phone you need to buy all new cables as well. This is common practice for most manufacturers of electronics, and it is completely unnecessary.



planeSource: time.com

From overbooking to poor customer service, airlines know exactly how to suck money out of you without giving you anything in return. And it’s not just shady airlines. From Switzerland to Canada, even the most reputable sounding countries have major trouble when it comes to their airlines ripping you off. (For instance, many Canadians fly cross country using US airlines because it’s cheaper to fly from Toronto to London than Toronto to Vancouver!)

Pro tip: trust no one



diamondsSource: priceonomics.com

Basically, the jeweler De Beers created the demand (with super smart marketing) and controlled the supply. It’s true, diamonds are relatively worthless. In fact, they are the most common gem found in nature. But hey, people bought into the marketing. So is that a ripoff? Well, as with most of this list…it depends on your perspective.


If you enjoyed this list, be sure to check out 25 Biggest Ripoffs That You’ve Probably Been Tricked Into Buying.

Photos: All photos public domain from pixabay.com except feature image: shutterstock & 17. Nick Youngson/nyphotographic.com, CC BY-SA 3.0