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What are the largest rip offs in society today and what do you do about it??

35451 Views 112 Replies 54 Participants Last post by  Happyvdubber
I'll start with some emotional, timeless ripoffs that really piss me off :

1) Weddings ..been married twice...was widowed..

2) 3

3) Funerals. have dealt with 2 first wife and my father...
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What do you mean by "rip offs"? Are you saying they are too costly or are you saying they are unnecessary?
They are certainly necessary but the majority play on the emotions of consumers in the worst way..hence rip-offs
#2 is a matter of personal choice. Different people have different reasons to have kids and not to have them. You may as well add pets to your list.
I understand where you are coming from. Thankfully up to now I have not had to deal with #3, but I can understand how someone in an unexpected emotional state could be taken advantage of. #1 and #2 are all a matter of personal preferences and how much you want to conform to society's norms.
#2 is a matter of personal choice. Different people have different reasons to have kids and not to have them. You may as well add pets to your list.
I was referring more to the discretionary costs associated with having have you ever been into a higher end baby store....I remember walking into one in Sudbury of all places prior to our first child being born and they had a lovely selection of baby gear, goodies and furniture. I particularily noticed a nice crib which appeared to be hardwood.. maple me thinks..and I noticed the price tag of $350 (1994) I commented to my wife that this did not seem unreasonable for an attractive, seemingly well built crib....she proceeded to CORRECT me by indicating that the price tag I was looking at was just for the bedding "ensemble" ! I hate that word.."ensemble"

But then we even used cloth diapers..which were free, as my mother-in-law made them on her surger...
I'll start with some emotional, timeless ripoffs that really piss me off :

1) Weddings ..been married twice...was widowed..

2) 3

3) Funerals. have dealt with 2 first wife and my father...

Respectfully, I don't agree that any of the above are necessarily ripoffs, because at least you have choices on how much you want to spend and where you spend your money. To take the first example, its totally up to the couple whether they want an inexpensive or lavish wedding.

What I find to be ripoffs are expenses where the consumer doesn't have realistic choices. Utility companies really bug me -- when you open a new account they charge an account opening fee which I believe is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $150. What business without a monopoly would charge you for becoming a client? On top of that, instead of a straight charge per kilowatt hour on our hydro bill, we are charged for delivery charges, debt repayment charges, etc.
I understand where John is coming from. All of the things he's listed people tend to have emotional responses to and can cause a lot of stress in ones life which makes them susceptible to bad financial decisions.

I would have to add major home renovations. I'm not talking about looking for someone to paint a room. I'm talking about the renovations that impact your life. Things like kitchen and bathroom remodels. These are always delayed and in the end you get to a point where you'll pay anything to get the job done.
Cool topic!

1) Cars
2) Jewelry
3) Pharmaceuticals
4) Cigarettes

Working in the pharmaceutical industry I am familiar with the amount of profit the companies make and although we don't smoke, I have a feeling the margins are very similar.

We didn't think our wedding was a rip off because we both have small families and it was a family-only wedding. We don't consider children a rip off only because we know beforehand that children will be very expensive (financially and emotionally). Fortunately we haven't had to deal with a funeral.
1) Cars
2) Fixing the Cars
3) Pretty Women
4) Booze
5) Cigs
7) Food purchased at the Airport or Hockey Game / Organic Food
8) Gasoline
9) Real-estate purchased in the Greater Vancouver Area.
1) Cars
7) Food purchased at the Airport or Hockey Game / Organic Food
Good one!

As far as gasoline is concerned I don't think station owners make much from gasoline. Most of their profit comes from cigs, car washes and confectionary.
I have to agree with Spidey.

Utilities are the biggest rip-offs going. Over half our hydro bill is for everything but the actual electricity we use.

To top it off they charge high transportation fees when we have a local power plant that can easily supply our area with more than enough power and we still get nailed for transportation.

Not to mention paying for the debt retirement of a previous generations abuse and mismanagment.

Just my two cents.
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I might get flamed for saying this, but for me, one of the biggest rip-offs is one of those popular brand-name gadgets. The prime example is an iPod.

What do I do about it? I opt out. I've been very happy with a $30 mp3 player for .... (how many years has it been? 4-5?)

(P.S. I know that iPod also "buys" social status, but I really don't care :p)
Oh.... and let me add a couple of more things that I particularly felt after coming to Canada (from the US):

- Books are so expensive here. There is a huge difference between vs. Whenever I visit a friend in the States, I buy a whole bunch of books (sometimes in hundreds of dollars) and ship them to my friend's address and bring them back. Thank God there's no tariff on books.

- Postal Service: Canada Post is much more expensive and poorer quality than USPS.

Expense Ratio (Mutual Funds): Expense ratios on mutual funds in Canada are outrageous by American standard. I think somebody posted a link to the report that Canada received F in expense ratio in a study that compared mutual funds in 10 or 15 countries. That F is well-deserved IMHO.

(Of course, I have noticed the opposite as well. Certain things in Canada are unbelievably inexpensive. But that is for another thread.)
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The Number, I think it's a matter of personal choice when it comes to gadgets or toys. Some people may swear by the iPODs for the very simple fact that they are ardent Mac users, you will probably find iMac, iPhone and other Apple products around them as well.

Similarly, I am not going to tell an amateur (or professional) photographer that he or she shouldn't be spending $10K on a Nikon camera + body kits and lenses when a lesser-known brand name can do the same job for much less.

I just don't think we can measure in monetary values what people enjoy as their hobbies.
Starbucks coffee and fountain drinks at fast food joints. Those are some items with healthy profit margins!
Biggest rip offs:

1/ Cheques

2/ Stamps

3/ Tax that supports automakers
Just to restate what The Number mentioned upthread....

Canadian Mutual Funds' MERs compared with other countries. Their expense ratios are a colossal rip-off!
Weddings, funerals and babies are definitely areas where a person can be taken advantage of due to the high emotional values attached to all three. (I went with a friend to a funeral service place once and they very sleekly made us feel guilty for not buying a high quality coffin that was hermetically sealed "for enhanced preservation.")

Whole Foods is another place where it's easy to get ripped off (although one makes the choice to shop there). Bliss Balls, for example, are $10.99 at WF and $8.99 at the local Iranian corner store, yet WF buys in bulk. However, you have the choice of where to shop. Canada Post is the worst rip as there are no alternatives. I send the same item over and over to the US and (rarely) to Canada. Cost to send to US $6.70 or thereabouts with tax, and it gets to NY in three days. Cost to send to Calgary from Vancouver? Well over $9.00 and it often takes a week. You pay your money and pray the mail will arrive in a shorter time than possible with a carrier pigeon.

Pharmaceuticals are another biggie. The companies would have us believe that the high costs (and patenting) are to help them recoup the "losses" of funding clinical trials. However, when you look at their profits, it's easy to see that this is more a case of money management to benefit stakeholders. I pay $15 per triptan for my migraines. At an average eight migraines a month, that's a lot of money.

Off topic: I would love someone from this forum to write a guest column for my blog. You are all so knowledgeable.

Middle Ageless (I changed the name)
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Part of the rip-off with weddings, kids & funerals is the social pressure and expectations to which we should conform.

I will just give you an example with a funeral. I have been to one of a close family friend for the first time a few months ago. I had no idea what to expect. Other folks who have been invited told me that everyone is buying a flower stand with their's family's name on it. These things are sold in specialized boutiques and the prices still give me nightmares. We choose the cheapest one and it cost us 200$. I argued against it at first, but finally conceded that it would look really cheap if we just came with a bouquet of flowers especially since everyone else was buying one. And everyone did. It was a very showy, commercialized funeral with pretty much standardized expectations. What I would have preferred is to bring my own flowers and instead pay extra money for a mass for the soul of the deceased as is traditionnaly done in my country. It would be much more meaningful to me but nobody would have seen the last part, everyone would just have remembered that I was cheap. So I let it go, but the whole experience has been painful and frustrating for the wrong reasons. Do not even get me started on the ridiculous prices for body-preserving coffins, indoor shrines, etc ;) I spoke to some of the salesmen after the funeral asking what the cost would be for something similar if I died. The estimated cost was beyond 30K in today's dollars.

Sorry for the long rant, but I still hate how I have been forced into this against my values by pure social pressure.

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