These days, you can’t be too careful. While everyone knows that emails from Nigerian princes are big scams, some rip offs aren’t so easy to spot. In fact, thousands of people fall for totally legal rip offs everyday and don’t even realize it. When you’re out shopping this holiday season, the potential pitfalls are everywhere. You don’t have to fall for it, though. With a discerning eye, you can avoid danger zones and come out better off. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you save money by avoiding all the unnecessary up-sells and overpriced junk you don’t need. Everyone should have a little extra cash for a gift for themselves, right? Here are the biggest rip offs that you’ve probably been tricked into buying.
The idea that companies are somehow bottling pure mystical mountain water run through filters constructed by elves is garbage. As several sources have pointed out, almost every major brand bottles municipal tap water. And yes, that comes with the fluoride and other goodies. What you’re buying for $1.25, you can drink at home for a tenth of a penny.
Warranties on Electronics
It’s hard not to be paranoid right after you’ve bought something expensive, but 90 percent of the time the price of the warranty is equal to or slightly more than the average price of a repair. In other words, you’re buying peace of mind, not the repair.
This is not a call to stop getting oil changes. That will destroy your car. Still, it’s easy to get ripped off at oil change shops. Usually, you’ll get an earful of up-sells, pressuring you to turbocharge your car with high performance motor oil and new windshield wipers. Despite what the guy at Jiffy Lube says, your car’s probably not days from breaking down. Whether you’re likely to fall for it or not, it’s best to take your car to a local mechanic who values hard work rather than a quick buck.
Travel Size of Anything
These only exist because of desperation. Plan ahead and avoid this obvious scam. Buy the travel size once and then refill it yourself.
Several years ago stories broke in the U.S. and U.K. about companies colluding to raise prices illegally. The stories may have made a slight dent but those razor blades are marked up by nearly five thousand percent. Avoid big name razor refills and buy generic cartridges in bulk. They might not have the most insane advancements in razor blade technology, but that’s okay. You’ll be fine.
You know the truth. It’s been staring you in the face for years. Ready for it? Here it is: Coffee is cheap to produce. This article isn’t going to stop you though. It won’t stop any of us.
Big electronic stores are having trouble competing against online. Part of their solution is tricking you, your parents, and your gullible grandparents to buy $12 dollar HDMI cables for $5o dollars. In case you didn’t know, all cables are created equal. You don’t need a gold plated one. Go online.
It’s not too often that funerals get mentioned in the same sentence as rip-offs, probably because no one wants to complain about how expensive it was to bury their loved one. At an average price of $6,000 though, that’s an awful lot for a hole, a rock, and a 30 minute car ride.
Restaurants buy the soda for a fraction of the $2 they charged you. On top of that, the whole product is like 90 percent water. The margins are certainly in their favor, plus it’s super unhealthy. Work on developing that weird Stockholm Syndrome skinny people have where they claim to “prefer water anyway.”
This whole industry revolves around selling you a cheap printer so they can sell you overpriced ink for the rest of your life. Not much to do here other than buy a new printer every time you run out of ink. If possible, print stuff at school or work for free.
While it’s understandable that people start gym memberships and then quit, the fine print in the contracts usually includes steep fines for cancellation. Some, like Bally’s Total Fitness even state that you can’t cancel your membership unless you die or move to a city without a gym. Jogging, push-ups, and sit-ups are free. Try some of those before you commit to a whole membership.
Premium gas isn’t magically better for your car and it doesn’t clean out your engine. The only difference between premium gas and regular gas is that premium gas is higher octane, or less combustible, which is necessary in very specific high performance engines. You most likely do not have a very specific high performance engine.
All You Can Eat Buffets
If you can eat $15 worth of food, then one of three things is going on. Either you are abnormally hungry, you suffer from a severe case of gluttony, or you are being seriously ripped off. Cooking for yourself is always the way to save money, but if you’re going out, find a place with local, fresh food. Infinite pizza under a heat lamp just isn’t worth it.
Hotel Mini Bars
Hotels know you’re lazy and don’t want to leave the room. For this reason they trap you with the smallest, most ridiculously expensive bags of potato chips and soft drinks you have ever seen. Hopefully, the only people still buying $15 dollar Toblerones are doing it on an expense account. If that’s not you, then stop.
Free Credit Reports
Why would anyone fall for this, anyway? In the U.S., you are allowed one free credit check per year. Companies peddling this service are actually selling you on some other product you don’t even want or need.
While in some industries generic brands really are lower quality, that’s not the case for most pharmaceuticals. Medication companies are legally required to use the exact same chemical composition in their “branded” versions. That means that Advil is 100% exactly the same as generic ibuprofen. There is not one difference except for the label and the price.
Not only have they gotten more expensive, their price tags have increased at twice the rate of inflation over the past 20 years. Ask college kids how often they use their books, and it’s pretty clear this whole industry is a racket.
Movie Theater Popcorn
This one isn’t so much the fault of the movie theater as it is of movie executives with fat wallets. The theater will have to give up nearly 70% of your ticket price to Hollywood. To make up for that, they have to charge more for the popcorn.
Wireless Cancellation Fees
While it’s understandable that giving discounts on phones in exchange for a certain amount of service time would lead to this sort of clause, it also led to most mobile carriers having awful customer service in the process. Everyone should just stay away from contracts.
You have a better chance of dying on your way to pick up your lottery ticket than actually winning. The lottery is fun sometimes, but if you happen to win a few bucks on a scratch off, just go home. Don’t turn around a spend it on more losing tickets.