Everywhere you go you’re surrounded by convenience, and an overload of advertising to buy a given product. Shopping at your local supermarket is very similar to being a contestant on a game show – If you think hard, and make the right decisions you can end up being a big winner. But rushing through your shopping, not exploring the flyers, and lack of proper comparison will leave your wallet dry. Furthermore, you’ll end up with products that will produce the same results as the products that are $2-3 cheaper.
Majority of the supermarkets we walk into everyday are offering completely ripoff products on their shelves. Fat loss products that don’t actually work, gourmet foods that aren’t gourmet, specialty cleaning products that do the same job as regular cleaning products, health products that aren’t healthy, and products that claim to outlast the average product in the same class.
These are just some of the ways we’re getting jipped every time we buy something, order something or use some form of a service. I’m not sure about you, but I certainty don’t enjoy getting ripped off. Why spend more of my hard earned money than I really need to? So, I’ve complied a short list of 20 ways you may be getting ripped off.
1. Bottled Water
We are fortunate to live in a society that offers us clean and running water. Sometimes we forget that water is a natural, and free source, so why are we paying $4.99 (on high end) for a package of 24 bottled waters? The cost to produce each bottle is less than 2 cents, and more importantly you’re buying something that already comes FREE in your home.
2. Nitrogen Gas in Tires
Unless you’re racing your car on the track, having nitrogen gas in your tires won’t make a difference in your everyday driving. It’s completely false to claim that nitrogen behaves differently than air in tires.
3. Pharmacy Dispensing Fees
Why pay a $11.99 dispensing fee at Shoppers Drug Mart, when you can pay a $2.00 dispensing fee per prescription at Costco. If you’re getting your prescriptions anywhere else other than Costco, you’re probably getting ripped off, unless you’re getting it for free of course. Most pharmacies charge per prescription. So, 10 perceptions will be $20 at Costco or $119.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart. Got refills? Yup another $20 or $119.99.
4. New Car Freight & PDI Fees
Anytime you purchase a new car, the buyer is charged freight & pre-delivery inspection (PDI) charges. On average these costs run anywhere from $400-1000 depending on the dealership and vehicle make. The worst part is that these fees are non negotiable.
5. Gluten Free Goods
Gluten-free goods are super expensive, and they don’t necessarily have fewer calories or more nutrients. Unless you got the money, or you have a celiac disease, you’re getting ripped off by buying gluten-free foods.
6. TV Packages
Why pay a flat fee for a TV package, when you only watch at the very best ten different channels on regular basis. Generally a good TV package goes for $80+, and includes some decent movie channels. Sports package? Costs another $29.99 per month, and a four month minimum. If you love movies like me, just get Netflix.
7. Airline Baggage Fees
I have huge beef with having to pay $25 extra to check my luggage bag at the airport. That’s an additional $50 for a round-trip. The extra fee to check my luggage bag is a major ripoff.
8. Canadian Beer
The prices of Canadian made beer always boggled my mind. Molson Canadian is produced and bottled in Toronto. It sells locally for $35.99 for 24 bottles. The same beer, in the same bottles, and the same package is sold for $19.99 in Buffalo, which also happens to be a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto. Ripoff? Totally!
9. Automatic Tips
Establishments that automatically add a 15% tip on your bill. Whatever happened to earning a tip, and not expecting it?
10. Eye Glasses
There is no difference between a set of Hugo Boss glasses ($499), and a set of generic non-brand name glasses ($150). Both sets include the lenses and frames, except one set has eight more letters pasted on the side of the frame. There’s your price difference, and the ripoff as well.
11. Universal or Whole-Life Insurance
Majority of the people who have universal or whole-life insurance don’t actually need it, and more importantly don’t understand it. Insurance as a whole is pretty complex, universal insurance is beyond complex. Instead get cheap renewable, convertible term insurance from an independent broker.
12. Razor Blades
Discount razor blades and expensive razor blades are made by the exact same manufacturer in the same plant and packaged in different packages. Cheap discount razor blades will do the same job as the $35 Gillette super expensive razor blades. Expensive razor blades don’t last longer, and are made of the same material as discount razor blades.
13. Plastic Bag Fee
In Toronto you’re charged five cents per every plastic bag you purchase at the grocery store. They call this the “Green Fee”, and that it’s good for the environment as less bags will end up in landfills. If the city want’s to be green, simply stop offering plastic bags. Eventually people will start bringing in their own reusable bags to carry their groceries. In essence you’re getting charged a convenience fee. There is nothing green about charging consumers five cents per bag, except that it’s a big ripoff or simply a consumer stupidity for anyone who spends the five cents.
14. Cell Phone Contract Cancellation Fee
What happens when you sign a three year cell phone contract, and 12 months later you’re not happy with the service and want to leave? You need a get out of the jail card which costs $20/month on the remaining months in your contract. Using the above example that works out to $480 that you’d need to pay the cellphone provider before you contract can be canceled.
Essentially you’re paying back the phone company for the phone you got for FREE. Next time buy the phone outright, and steer clear of the contract, because nobody likes feeling chained down.
15. Car Parts
If you go to your local car dealer to purchase a certain part for your car, you’re more than likely being charged at least a 60% markup. Feeling ripped off? It gets better though. That same part is no different than the same “generic” part selling for much less elsewhere, except the dealer had the manufacturer print the vehicle logo on the car part – therefore calling the part an “OEM” part.
16. Unjustifiable Delivery Charges
Getting charged a delivery charge on your gas bill is a ripoff. You’re already paying for the usage, and the setup on your home gas line has been in existence since the home was built. The gas can’t be used unless it’s delivered, and now you go to pay a delivery charge? Doesn’t make much sense.
Coffee at $4-5 per cup is expensive anyway it’s made.
18. Energy Drinks
What’s up with all the hype over energy drinks? They’re not healthy at all, have an abundance of sugar in them, and the biggest boost of energy comes from caffeine. They cost anywhere from $3 and up, and will not give you the boost that they claim. If you need a boost to get through your day, have a cup of coffee at work. It contains way more caffeine, and more than likely it’s FREE.
19. Tenderloin Steak
It’s not the best tasting steak around, can be a little dry at times, and lacks true flavor, so why is the tenderloin steak so expensive at a steakhouse? Because there aren’t very many tenderloins on a cow. If you want a really good steak, opt for a top sirloin. It packs way more flavor, and is much cheaper.
20. Popcorn at the Movies
How in the world do they get away with charging $5 for a bag of popcorn? The short answer: movie theaters do it because they’re in a position to get away with it. And the movie goers who buy the popcorn there are simply getting ripped off. Instead get the girlfriend to sneak in some snacks in her purse or don’t buy anything at all.
Note to Readers:
I understand that a lot of the above is simple common sense. I also understand that whether we choose to purchase anything or use a certain service is a matter of choice. However, I wanted to use this post to get us thinking again about ways we may be throwing money away by getting back to basics. We know that personal finance can be complex at times, and there are multiple ways to do the same thing. And what works for me, may not work for you. I’m also certain there are way more than 20 different ways that we’re getting ripped off. The above is not the be all and end all of getting jipped. Feel free to add any other ways we may be getting ripped off. Knowledge is meant to be shared, and I’m certain that we all can help each other.
Readers, now that you’ve heard my 20 ways of getting ripped off, please share yours and let’s grow this list together.