If your wallet is feeling a little light these days, it may be because you’re getting ripped off on products or services you’re purchasing. Ripoffs are everywhere these days, some can be avowed; other you simple can’t. The kicker to groin area is that these ripoffs are perfectly legal, yet they add up, leaving you fleeced, angry and light in the wallet.
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.
You know you’re overpaying for all sorts of things in your daily or weekly purchases. Just check some of your grocery receipts and gas bills, and you’ll see some of the extra charges are tacked onto every purchase. So, I wanted to shine a light on the overpriced stuff and ripoffs that are depleting our wallets with everyday purchases.
1. Car Parts at the Dealership
This is where they really stick it to you, and they know you’ll buy the car part at the end of the day. I recently went through this with BMW due to my compressor crapping out. Long story short, the compressor was $1,500 at BMW, yet due to some connections and a good friendship, I manged to score the same part for $650. The only difference between the two was that the compressor from BMW came in a fancy BMW box, while the other came in a standard generic box. And the real kicker was that both were produced by the same company in Germany.
According to my source at BMW, on average BMW parts are marked up 200%, while some are marked up even more.The thinking behind this is simple:
- Your car is out of service
- You need your car to get to work and do daily things
- You’re desperate and want to fix your problem
- Your lack of knowledge on car parts and the problem as a whole
2. Paying to Order
This one boggles my mind, yet most travelers are accepting that it’s okay to pay for fees for booking tickets online. As a regular business traveler, and someone who books tickets online, why should it be fair to pay an additional fee to book my flight online? I’m already giving you my business by deciding to do business with a given airline, and now you’re going to stick it to me further? It’s unfair!
What about those fees for checking your bags and reserving seats? Air Canada charges up to $22 for reserving a seat. Most airlines are now charging $25 for the first checked bag and up to $50 for the second one. This is why I rarely fly Air Canada and opt for other airlines.
3. Wireless Reconnection Fees
Telecom companies are notorious for charging additional fees. Here are few, just in case you forgot – 75 cents for “911 fee”, “$6.95 network connection” fee and the famous $25 reconnection fee for your new cellphone or data phone. Most cell phone providers will charge you $25 to reconnect your wireless phone.For example if you lose your phone or drop it in the water, you’ll need a new wireless phone, and if purchasing your new phone wasn’t enough, you’ll also get hit with a $25 reconnection fee.
4. Land Transfer Tax
As if paying property taxes wasn’t enough, we also have to pay a land-transfer tax bashed on the sale price of the property. All provinces with the exception of Nova Scotia participate in this surcharge tax. Here in Toronto, the city charges you in addition to the provincial tax, a municipal levy. In British Columbia, the tax rate charged is one percent on the first $200,000 of the sale price, plus two percent on anything over that. So, if you were to buy a $300,000 home, you’d get dinged with $4,000 in extra taxes.
5. Utility Hidden Charges
Utility companies such as gas companies charge for the delivery of the gas to your household. Enbridge Gas charges roughly 0.7 cents per cubic meter for the delivery charge of the gas to your home. Furthermore, they also charge for transporting natural gas through pipelines from Western Canada and the United States to Ontario – the cost of transpiration is directly passed onto the consumer.
6. Paying to Pay
This one hurts a lot – you’re paying to pay something. City of Toronto charges $1.50 per online payment for your parking ticket. So, for example your parking ticket is $30, you have 15 days to pay, and on the 15th day you decide to pay the charge online and in a timely manner. Guess what though, your total cost is now $31.50, because you’re being charged for being a faithful on-time citizen that just want’s to pay your parking ticket.
7. Statement Charge
Most service providers are charging their clients an additional fee for statements that are printed and mailed out. The only way to avoid these charges is have it e-mailed or for you to view your statement online. For example, I have my wireless service with Telus, and if I want my statement mailed every month, that would be an additional $2.00 per month or $24 per year.
My parents have their long distance plan with Primus Canada, who charges them 50 cents for every statement they mail out to them. That’s an additional $6 they’ve paying every year.
That being said I’ll rationalize, and I realize the benefit of e-statements – less trees are vut down and therefore less waste is produced. However, as a loyal customer you hate to see additional surcharges on your monthly statement. As for my parents, who are approaching their 60s, they do things the old school way, and prefer to see the statements in person rather than scouring for them online.
8 .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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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!
16. Automatic Tips
Establishments that automatically add a 15% tip on your bill. Whatever happened to earning a tip, and not expecting it?
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. 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.
When extra fees are excluded from prices, you feel surprised, shocked and abused. Your trust in sellers is gone. The integrity of the shopping experience is in tatters. Yet majority of the sellers refrain from talking about their additional surcharges that will illustriously appear on your monthly statements.