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We consider ourselves pretty savvy, right? That's part of the beauty of growing up in the digital age! We can spot a scam a mile away. Despite what your grandma really wants to believe, we know that Nigerian princes don't send emails promising millions. Banks and credit card companies don't ask for your account information via Facebook Messenger. And the IRS, no matter what people think, doesn't make phone calls. We hear all the time about people falling for the silliest scams, and it's actually pretty sad! But that's not us. Sorry, single ladies - that guy on Tinder with the celebrity profile picture isn't ... a celebrity. But how savvy are we, really? Sure, we can spot an obvious scam. But how good are you at spotting for everyday scams?
We're not talking about schemes to steal your identity or money. Well, maybe your money. No, we're talking about things we encounter every single day that we think are normal, but are actually a complete crock. These everyday scams can affect our quality of life, our financial security, and more. They're designed to just seem like part of life. But when you really think about - we are getting the shaft in so many ways. It would be funny, if it wasn't so infuriating! How many of these everyday scams have you fallen for? If you're like us, it's probably quite a few.
Do you commute to work? If so, how much of your time is spent just sitting in your stupid car, inching ever closer to your office or workplace? Maybe you're lucky and live in a place where traffic still hasn't reached epic levels. But for most of us, our commute is a huge chunk of our day. But why? Seriously, WHY THO? It's so infuriating because once you get to work, you're probably doing tasks that could have easily been done from home. Lots of companies are moving to a more flexible work schedule, allowing employees to work remotely 1-2 days a week. Even those 1-2 days save you money, time, and stress. Traffic is a goddamn scam that we don't need to deal with every single day, when you really think about it.
Now, this one is BEYOND. It's actually criminal, is what it is. Everyday scams sometimes target a specific demographic for no good goddamn reason. Once women hit puberty and get their periods, they're on the hook for the feminine hygiene product scam for years. Pads and tampons are insanely expensive, considering they are a necessary expenditure. There's even a "tampon tax". What's that, you ask? Well, for some stupid reason, feminine hygiene products are subject to value-added tax. But, other basic necessities are exempt from the tax. So we need pads and tampons, and we have to pay more for them. Such a scam.
Certainly, there are areas of this country that do not have access to clean drinking water from the tap. It's a travesty, and a discussion for another day. But for most of us? Tap water is perfectly fine to drink. You know why we know it's perfectly fine to drink? Because it's basically the exact same water you're paying to drink when you buy a bottle of water. Hate to break it to you, but companies are filling those bottles with pure, natural spring water, or water melted from a glacier. They're tapping into local water sources and depleting valuable natural resources, and then selling it to us as safe and natural. Plus, our oceans are drowning in plastic waste. Get a good reusable bottle, put a high-quality filter on your faucet at home, and stop falling for this scam.
OK, before the advent of streaming services like Netflix, cable was pretty necessary. But now? Why on earth would you pay $100 or more to watch shows and movies you can access ... pretty much anywhere else on the internet? If you have Amazon Prime, Netflix, or Hulu, your TV viewing is covered. You already pay for internet, so there's no sense in paying more for cable. Plus, who wants to spend all that time watching commercials?! You're pretty much paying for the privilege of watching ads designed to sell you more stuff. Cut the cable, you absolutely don't need it.
Now that everyone is Konmari'ing the crap out of their house, they're probably finding some old relics. Like phone books - remember phone books?! The giant directories would show up on your doorstep a couple of times a year, and most people just sort of shoved them in a closet somewhere or put them directly in the recycling bin. Completely unnecessary nowadays, so ... why do they still make and distribute them? Who knows. They might be "free", but the cost of compiling, printing, and delivering phone books is astronomical and a complete waste of resources. We don't need phone books, and it's sort of insane that they still show up on our doorsteps.
Why are pennies? Honestly. You can't buy anything with it. Tons of people don't even use paper money anymore, now that everything in digitalized. But even if you use cash, how often do you use pennies? They just sort of pile up and take up space and continue to build up in circulation. Countries like Canada are ahead of the game - they stopped minting their one cent coins in 2012, and only pennies minted after 1982 are still legal in circulation. But no, here in America we continue to produce and mint pennies, even though the cost of producing one penny is actually MORE than the penny itself (they cost 1.7 cents to make). Makes no sense.
Is there anything worse than that stupid "Ink Low" warning on your printer? When you see that, you know you're going to have to rework your entire monthly budget just to be able to buy some new ink. The cost of printer ink is one of the biggest everyday scams we all fall victim to, several times. According to a viral video by YouTuber Gregory Austin McConnell, we're all getting shafted. McConnell used to work as a tech support, and decided to share a disturbing truth with us: cartridges that we spend upwards of $60 on cost companies around $0.23 to manufacture. Then there's the whole cyan ink scam. If you're printing in black ink only, WHY DO YOU NEED CYAN INK? Because the cartridges are designed to add cyan to black (for a nicer black?), but it always runs out first, requiring a whole new cartridge. SCAM.
It never fails: your phone bricks as soon as a new model is about to be released (coincidence? No.). Battery life is a drain on us all (pun intended). But buying a new phone battery? Is a scam. Because they are expensive! So most people just end up getting a new phone. Why can't they just make parts and components that last? Why is everything designed to fail, forcing us to then buy a new part or a new product? Because money. We are suckers, and companies know this. These things are literally built to fail, and we are all taken for a ride.
OK, so there may be a few superfoods that are worth the hype. But generally speaking, no one food is going to magically make you healthier/stronger/younger/better. And some of the superfoods were sold are actually not as great as cheaper alternatives. For example, everyone is into acai right now. Bowls, smoothies, whatever. But you know what's just as good as acai, and a lot cheaper? Blueberries. Superfoods are over-marketed fads that try to lure you in with promises of health and vitality. But really, all you need to do is eat smart, balance your diet, and pay attention to what you put into your body.
Why do we pay $200 for two concert tickets that cost $70 each? Like, we get that new math is weird, but that just doesn't make sense! How much you pay for something should be HOW MUCH IT COSTS. Tickets fees, delivery fees, banking fees - we're paying extra for the convenience of having our money in a secure account or buying something online. Late fees, transfer fees, application fees. FEES FEES FEES. It's too much. It's to the point where you have to budget like $100 over something just to account for hidden fees at checkout. Such a scam, seriously.
Have you ever thought about how weird it is that there are commercials for prescription drugs? Like, a lot of them. For everything from erectile dysfunction meds to asthma meds and even meds for more serious ailments. These commercials run on television, on the radio, they're all over the internet. It's ... weird. And it really highlights the predatory nature of the for-profit pharmaceutical industry. Now, the pharm industry does a lot of good. But selling medication like cereal is a scam. Patients shouldn't ask their doctors for a drug by name because of what a commercial told them it could do. Doctors prescribe meds for a variety of reasons, but given that they know your medical history, they would no best.
You ever had a headache so bad you reached right for the EXTRA STRENGTH Tylenol thinking, oh this is better than regular Tylenol because it's EXTRA! Sorry, it's not. In fact, the FDA has warned against taking pain medication that contains more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per tablet, and it's been proven to not be more effective than regular strength Tylenol. Extra Strength Tylenol has 500 mg per pill, while regular Tylenol has 325 mg. So popping two extra strength pills puts you at the high daily dosage (1000 mg/day), whereas taking two regular will be just as effective and you'll be at the low end (625 mg/day). But people love extra strength stuff, so they're willing to pay $3 or more it. Sorry, it's a scam.
We suppose if you like paying double for something because it has a name brand, go on with your bad self. You do you! But when it comes to choosing between off-brand and name brand stuff like medicine, there is no difference. None! Not a single difference. All medications go through the exact same testing by the exact same organization in order to be cleared to sale. The ingredients are the same. The side effects are the same. Your headache will go away just as fast with Walmart pain reliever as it will with fancy-schmancy name brand pain reliever. And you'll be like $4 richer, so there.
Hopefully, one day soon, we'll be able to look back at how the healthcare industry presently operates and be like, LOL that was crazy, how did we live like that? If we live that long, that is. Listen, you need insurance right? Yes, we all do. It's a human right (or at least it should be). So you pay hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars a month just to have health insurance. Not to use it, mind you! Just to ... have it.
But then, god forbid, you need to use it. Only then do you find out that you have to pay thousands of dollars before anything is covered, you have to pay a portion of the shit that IS covered, and they can just cancel you at anytime. Oh, and just because that's not bad enough, you can't get really sick because there's a limit to how much money your policy will pay and you can't get an accident in a area with an out-of-network hospital because you'll be in the hook for basically the entire bill. GOOD TIMES.
For a long time, we were fed the lie that fat is bad. All fat. It's all bad for you! So suddenly there was fat-free everything. But we know better now. And when you know better, you do better, right? Fat isn't bad. Sure, there are less-good types of fat. And eating a diet that is high in fat without balance will create a whole bunch of problems for you. But come on ... fat-free candy? This is a scam, guys! It doesn't matter if it's fat-free when you're eating three days worth of sugar and carbs. But fat-free, so it must be better for you, right?
Americans spend approximately 60 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR on diet and weight loss products. That is ...staggering. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more predatory industry, to be honest. They exploit people's vulnerabilities, and sell nothing but snake oil and empty promises. We get it - when you struggle with your weight, you'll try anything. But the pills and drinks and supplements and frozen meals full of preservatives and junk are not going to make it happen. People want the easy way out, and are willing to pay a premium for it. So they try something, it works for a while until it doesn't, then they try the next thing they're being sold. Vicious cycle.
You remember college, right? The classes, the parties, the friends you made! The credit card bills or loans you took out to buy your stupid textbooks. WHY THO? There is nothing, NOTHING, more infuriating than having to buy a whole goddamn book for $300 for ONE class. You had like 5 classes! Spending $500-700 a semester on single-use books is criminal. We can read anything and everything on the internet, so why are college kids still being forced to buy textbooks? And then you go to sell them at the end of the semester, and you make $40. Textbooks depreciate faster than cars.
Your vagina is a magical organ. Seriously, it's pretty fantastic. But somewhere along the line, women were told that their vaginas were dirty or smelly or some such nonsense. So companies started selling a bunch of feminine hygiene washes and douches to "clean" the vagina. But guess what? Your vagina cleans itself! Not only are douches unnecessary, they are actually incredibly harmful. They upset the pH balance, they wash away beneficial bacteria, and they can introduce really harmful bacteria. Your vagina should have a scent, and if it smells off, then that's a sign something might be wrong. You need to see a doctor, not squirt some concoction inside of yourself.
So let's get this straight. You have to pay for a hotel room, yes? Probably a good chunk of change. You also have to put a credit down for "incidentals". OK. Then, you have to pay astronomical prices if you have the misfortune of getting thirsty or snacky at midnight and raid your minibar. On top of alllllllll of that, you also have to pay to park in the parking lot of the hotel YOU ARE PAYING TO STAY IN. You have to pay per day! What fresh hell is this?! We could see paying to park in a hotel lot if you're not staying there, sure. But we feel like maybe paying customers should get to park there for free. Where the hell else are they supposed to park?!
Listen, we get it - we love a good sale, too! We don't buy anything at full price anymore. But Black Friday is one of the biggest everyday scams going. It is a major shopping day, yes. The official kickoff of the holiday shopping season, in fact. But when you really think about it, the stuff you find on Black Friday isn't that great. Unless you're willing to stand in line for hours in the cold to hopefully score one of two decently marked-down TVs or something, the rest is kind of meh. Plus, if you've noticed, the prices on Black Friday aren't even the lowest prices you'll see of the season! Retailers slash prices quite a bit more as it gets closer to Christmas.
LOL, we literally never know what our total will be when we get to the register. Sales tax varies by state and city and county and pretty it's not the same in any two places, which is so ridiculous. Sure, the money collected from sales tax funds various programs and services, which is important. But why can't we have one standard tax and fold it into the price of goods and services? So you pick up something that costs $25, you know it's going to cost $25, and whatever is added to the seller cost as a tax is paid to the state by the seller. Sales tax is one of the biggest everyday scams, and none of us are safe!
You know you've done it - looked at the price of something and saw the $0.99 at the end and thought to yourself, wow what a bargain! It's less than <insert amount here>! But is it really? If your budget is, say, $100, and something cost $99.99, you ... aren't really under your budget, LOL. Plus, tack on one of the other everyday scams - sales tax! Plus adding these weird numbers together is hard, because math is stupid. Why can't retailers just use round numbers? Because they know you're more likely to buy something that's ONE WHOLE CENT less than a larger round number.
So we already know that fees suck. Fees to buy tickets or pay for something online or keep your money in a damn bank account. But is there anything worse than airline fees? As if buying a plane ticket isn't expensive enough, airlines tag on enough fees to buy a second freaking ticket. It should be a simple, transparent process, right? Pick a destination, pick a date, buy a ticket. But wait - do you want to check a bag? Gonna cost you extra. Carry-on a bag? Ooooooh, that's extra. Pick your seat? LOL extra. You can basically reserve a spot on an airplane for the price of the ticket; anything else is going to cost you. And don't forget the TSA fees and security fees.
Graduate high school, go to college! That's what we're all told, right? But there's a lot we're not told. For example, how many people will tell you that the first two years of college are pretty much the exact same everywhere, from fancy 4-year universities to community colleges (which are so much cheaper!). How many people tell you that 60% of your college education will be spent on classes that have literally NOTHING to do with your chosen major (but classes you have to pay for anyway)? How many people talk to you seriously about how to pay for college, or offer loan and financial counseling way before you even start applying? Or that you'll likely be paying your loans off long after you leave school? College in this country is not free, and for LOTS of people, it is prohibitively expensive.
Siiiiiiigh. This one bugs us so much. Because it's preying on fear and uncertainty, and when it comes to dealing with a health issue, everyone is scared and uncertain! Say what you will about the pharmaceutical industry, but not everything they do is rooted in evil. And medicine is good! Modern medicine and medical technology is GOOD. Seaweed isn't going to cure your psoriasis and essential oils aren't going to cure your autoimmune disease and some pink drink isn't going to cure your IBS. Can they provide some relief? Sure, in some cases. But they aren't a substitute for actual medical attention and support.
High rent prices is another one of those everyday scams you can't really avoid (in most cases). Not everyone is in a position to buy a home, or even wants to buy a home! Owning your own home is a lot of work and worry. Plus, you need some pretty hefty cash up front, and if you live in an area where the housing market has gotten out of control, you might be priced out of everything but a box on the street. But rent really isn't any better, and because of demand, it's getting worse. It's impossible to get ahead of the game when you're a renter, and you're at the mercy of landlords and management companies who can raise your rent without much of a notice.
Some of you might get your panties in a wad over this one, but it's true. That MLM "business" you're doing? Not a business. The majority of MLM's are basically pyramid schemes designed to exploit the labor of the people at the bottom in order to make the people at the top a lot richer. What's worse, these companies sell products that prey on people's vulnerabilities and fears and insecurities, and make it seem like they're selling the answer to their prayers. If you're thinking of selling wraps or miracle drinks or supplements and the business model means you only make money when you recruit more people to your team? Run, don't walk, as fast as you can.
Really, this is one of those everyday scams that would be sort of funny if it wasn't so infuriating. WHY ARE RAZORS SO EXPENSIVE? And furthermore, why are women's razors so much MORE expensive? Listen, we don't need unique floral handles. We don't need ergonomic grips. And we certainly don't need our own colors or names or designs. We need a razor that will remove hair from our bodies. That's ... that's pretty much it. And then you think you'll be really smart and buy a razor with replaceable heads, right? Take that, razor people! Until you find out that the stupid replacement cartridges are even more expensive than the razor itself. Ridiculous.
Listen, we love us some beauty products, we do! Makeup and skincare and hair stuff, we're all over it. But when you see a beauty product commercial with some gorgeous, flawless celebrity or model, you have to know it's not real. We're sure the products are used for the shoot itself, but do we really think that Gal Gadot uses Revlon foundation? Do we really believe that most of these celebrity spokespeople are using products they can buy at Walgreen's or Target? They're there to sell a product, so don't base your decision to buy it on these commercials. Head to the internet and look for real reviews by real users.
You'd think data grows on trees based on how tightly cell companies try to ration and regulate it. It's not a finite resource! We're not going to ... run out of data. Those cables and satellites exist regardless of how much data we use. But we pay exorbitant fees for a certain amount of data, and then get hit with overage fees or throttling if we go over this completely arbitrary number decided on by the company. Plus, most companies won't even let you roll it over! It's so dumb. It's just another way for companies to make money, selling us something that we can't really live without but also shouldn't have to pay so much for.
Much like cellular data, the internet is not a finite resource. Once those cables are in, bam! Internet. So why do internet companies offer so many packages for different speeds and usage, and charge an arm and a leg? Short answer: because they can. And it's not like you're paying a premium for the fastest internet speeds in the world, either. A lot of the time, you're paying upwards of $60-70 a month for slow internet that cuts out way too often. When you live in a city, it's basically as easy as these companies ... turning your house or apartment on their network. But sure, charge us prices that suggest we have our own private internet.
LOL, people get wiiiiiiiiiild with their Kohl's cash. We suppose if you plays your cards right and do your homework, you can game the system a bit and walk away getting an actual good deal as opposed to a deal that just looks good. But really, you're sort of in the hole with this stuff no matter what. You get $10 for spending $50, and then you can spend your store rewards or whatever, but do you actually end up spending less than the amount of store cash you have? Unlikely. So you're spending money to get fake money that you spend along with some more real money. It's kind of insane how they've gotten people to fall for this scam.
Between coupons, mark downs, clearance, and the sales that stores seem to run every other day (Arbor Day Sale - 20% Off!), why is anyone paying full price?! It sounds like even more of a scam when you start to research how much things actually cost. Not their retail cost, but their wholesale cost. If you've ever wondered how stores can mark stuff down so much, think about what their cost for the item must be in the first place. We're talking a few bucks here, and then they turn around and sell it for $60, mark it down to $30, and somehow we're convinced that we're getting the deal of the year. Never pay full price, full stop.
It's upsetting how many of the everyday scams on this list seem to prey on certain segments of the population. Payday loans, or fast cash or cash advance loans, are one of the worst. These lenders prey on financially vulnerable people who are in a bind, and they make it seem so easy to get some quick cash. When you're desperate, you'll do what you have to do. So people go to payday lenders and borrow a small amount of cash, maybe because of an emergency that popped up or the need for more cash than they have on-hand to pay a bill. But those lenders come a-callin'g two weeks later, for the full amount of the loan plus interest (interest rates for payday loans can be anywhere from 400-5000%). If you live paycheck to paycheck and need every cent of that check to pay your bills, you're going to be hurting in a big way come payday.
In 1947, the De Beers diamond syndicate created a brilliant marketing plan around diamonds, somehow convincing people that a diamond engagement ring was a necessary tradition. So couples began dropping big bucks on the stones, and the "tradition" continues to this day. But here's the thing: diamonds are a massive waste of money. They're useless, they depreciate like crazy (have you ever tried to resell a diamond engagement ring?!), and spending that much money on a piece of jewelry is a really bad financial decision. Yes, they're pretty, but so are so many other precious gemstones! Diamonds are a scam, don't fall for it.
All natural! Whole grains! Sugar-free! Low-fat! People see these proclamations on food labels and assume that the food is healthy and good for them. But advertisers walk a very fine line between truth in advertising and stretching that truth. Can something be considered sugar-free if it's loaded with other artificial sweeteners? Is a sugary breakfast cereal really a good source of whole grains? Can orange juice be called all-natural if it only contains 2% of actual juice from oranges? The labels on food packages don't come close to telling the whole story about what's inside the package, and many people are fooled by them.
Ugh, car buying is the worst. Why do they make it so hard?! There's the MSRP, the dealer price, the sale price - all different, for some stupid reason. And then the salespeople raise or lower the price for completely arbitrary reasons. Oh, you want floor mats? THAT'S GONNA COST YOU. You finally make a deal, only to see several hundred dollars tacked onto the final price for fees and whatnot. Paperwork fees. Moving the car from one space to another on the lot fees. Transfer fees. It's a scam! Nine time out of ten, if you threaten to walk those fees will magically disappear. So why even include them in the first place?!
OK, so you've got your LinkedIn all updated, you polished up the resume, and you're ready to apply for some jobs! We hope you have approximately 198274859 hours to spend doing just that. You find a job, click apply, and then go through an insane number of steps and hoops. Fill out your basic info, upload your resume, fill out an application WITH THE EXACT SAME INFORMATION FROM THE RESUME YOU LITERALLY JUST UPLOADED. Answer some personality questions, do an hour of unpaid labor so they can see "how you work", write a cover letter repeating all of the information you just spent two hours submitting, hit submit, and never hear from them again. Lather, rinse, repeat forever.
Just ... where do you even start with this one? The electoral college is used for the biggest and most important elections we have, and it's asinine that someone could be elected president without winning the popular vote. And not just not winning the popular vote, but losing it by a significant margin! Every vote from every person should count, regardless of where they live and how many EC votes their state was given a couple hundred years ago. It's incredibly frustrating, and plays a huge role in voter apathy. Because really, why would someone want to vote when their vote literally doesn't matter? It's a scam, and it should go.
Let us say first: if you are a no-tipper or low-tipper, you are not a good person. We definitely think tipping is a scam, but not one perpetuated by the people receiving tips. Rather, tipping is a scam created by employers and owners to avoid paying their service industry employees a living wage. Wait staff, bartenders, bussers, they all make a wage that is considerably lower than even minimum wage, and nowhere near a livable wage. So tips is how they are able to scrape by. Thankfully, a lot of establishments are doing away with tipping and paying their staff more. It's better for business, better for workers, and better for consumers (yay, transparent prices on goods and services!).
All throughout childhood and adolescence we looked forward to growing up and being an adult. All the things we would do and buy and say and watch! The dreams we would realize and the mountains we would conquer! Couldn't wait, to be honest. But then you become an adult and you realize VERY QUICKLY that this is a goddamn scam. It's never easy and rarely fun. It's expensive and soul-sucking and stressful. All you do is work and pay bills and work some more. Things hurt in the morning and you need supplements to sleep at night. Kids can't wait to grow up, but meanwhile we're over here trying to figure out how to go back in time. Adulting: biggest scam of them all and one of the only everyday scams we cannot avoid, no matter how hard we try.