Common Ways Businesses try to Rip Customers off

We call it a rip off.  Businesses call it sales tactics.  Customers expect companies to have a moral backbone.  Since business lobby groups exert so much power in government, we expect a lot of those companies.  It’s logical and reasonable.

The reality is that we will get ripped off one way or the other more often than we’d like.  We, as customers, expect a seller, manufacturer and corporation to make SOME profit on their product.  We don’t expect to be taken to the poor house.  

Corporations influence how we use their product and they whet our appetites for it through advertisements and other sales gimmicks. They lobby the government for control over customers, markets, and laws about their product.  So, it is natural for us to expect reasonable business/product practices without tricks or deception by them or their retail partners.

The problem is when they use unfair billing, packaging or advertising practices.  Lies, loopholes, and other tricks that stimulate spending and buying as well as after purchase issues are the things that are rip offs.

It can get down right dirty when businesses rip people off. Most people won’t detect all the little dirty tricks that sneak away their money. Even if it’s just a few pennies here and there, those things can add up. 

Retail businesses and manufacturers play a game of chance every day in order to maximize profits. Techniques used to move merchandise involve deceptive tactics along with obvious practices. Service industries like insurance and health care professions can also be fraud traps.

Billing issues that one might encounter with trash pick up companies and credit cards are some of the ways of getting ripped off.  For example, a trash company will tell a potential customer that it is X number of dollars per month.  They fail to say that “their” month only has 20 days in it. Then the customer wonders why they have to pay a late fee each month.  And that’s on top of miscellaneous fees not previously disclosed.  Then, the company makes excuses for not picking the trash up on time or at all.

Grocery:   Ways to get ripped off in a grocery store can include: Price tag under a similar, but different product (check the fine print for weight or type differences), selling expired food, quantity ‘discounts’ that are the same price as they are by the pound (nearly) or individually, a sale that is only good with a coupon or other purchase (read fine print), a ‘selected variety’ sale where they don’t specify which variety is on sale (they count on a person being too busy or overwhelmed to notice and put those tags under a variety that isn’t on sale), and items that don’t scan at the sale price.

Manufacturers:  Ways to get ripped off by manufacturer’s can include: Planned obsolescence, larger cardboard centers on toilet paper to make the rolls look bigger (check the square footage as a unit of price comparison), the toilet paper may be longer but is narrow or thin (so that more has to be used each time), a bag will be twice as tall as the amount of items in it (to give the illusion of more for the money), poor quality packaging (to make the item expire quicker), addition of MSG that isn’t specifically listed (to make one eat more of it), reduction in weight but not size of the package for the same price.

Banks:  Ways to get ripped off by banks can include:  Processing debits before credits when they come in on the same day, not informing a customer about delayed credit or availability on deposits in new accounts, undisclosed transaction or maintenance fees prior to occurrence, extra long hold on deposits (on corporate, personal or even certified checks), multiple checking account varieties with different benefits and penalties (to confuse the account holders), free checking (with high cost checks if bought through the bank) but expensive fees to use a debit card in an ATM, undisclosed limits on check or debit card purchase amounts (in order to keep your money longer), minimum deposit requirements with penalty fees.

Auto:  Ways to get ripped off by auto repair shops and dealerships can include:  Replacement of working parts by saying it is broke or is near broke, charging for replacement of a part that is never actually replaced, triple or more the cost of an item or part just because you’re buying it through them, saying that their parts are ‘authorized’ or ‘genuine’ so that they can charge more, not putting a part back on properly so that it fails and more money is spent fixing the damage.

Other businesses that make out like a bandit with your money can include:  Pay-day lenders who cash your post dated or other checks for a huge fee (there are more of these in the U.S. than McDonald’s restaurants), credit card companies that charge an annual fee on top of multiple types of interest fees, dealer financing on automobiles, larger interest rates based on credit scores (which you aren’t allowed to know without paying for it), rent to own, business coaching scams, many at-home businesses that promise intensive training but don’t deliver, sports arenas that charge $7 to $10 on a beverage that would only cost a dollar at a fast food place,  caps and gowns for graduation (save big by buying imitation gowns in the school’s colors), travel sized items (cost more per ounce or unit), buying extra frequent flyer miles, exotic ingredients in hygiene products for a higher price tag (often less quantity than they claim, or useless), and reverse mortgages.

Customers may also encourage deceptive practices when they or their children damage products or steal from retailers. Items they or their children steal, intentionally destroy or sully can seriously make doing business not worth the effort.  An honest business will raise their prices. Others make up the loss through any and every tactic they can.

Limit the number of hands in your pockets by being organized, in control and aware. Get ‘real’ second opinions on car repair and health issues. Read the fine print, or don’t buy.  Some things, however, we have to live with.  It takes effort and attention to detail to keep from being ripped off by companies.