How are you being ripped off? 10 things American waste money on

Because I love Top 10 lists and saving money, I present to you CNNmoney’s top rip-off’s families should avoid.

Time.com quoting CNNmoney research: Here is the list of the top rip-offs (Because I don’t want to rip-off (heehee) their whole list, click on the link to see the cost-saving alternatives):

Text Messages.

Movie Theater Popcorn.

Free Credit Reports That’ll Cost You.

Brand-name Painkillers.

Wine at Restaurants.

College Textbooks.

Super Gasoline.

Hotel Mini-bars.

Hotel In-room Movies.

I’m not surprised they listed Hotel minibars and movies as big rip-offs but I am surprised that anyone is using them. My parents are all about their super gasoline — I can’t imagine their cars, while nice, are high-performing enough that they need it.

I am torn on the used textbooks. I would need to examine them in person to know how “used” they were. I also would want to know what grade the person got who used the books so I would know if I should follow their highlighting or not.

So what do you think? Are you getting ripped off by any of these items? What other rip-offs do you see?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, AJC Momania

50 comments Add your comment

AngryRedMarsWoman

March 16th, 2011
1:11 pm

Cable/Dish. I have to pay for 250 channels just to get the dozen or so that anyone in the household actually watches on a regular basis. Try to reduce from 250 to 200 and in that 50 you lose all the good stuff (most cartoons, military channel, food, etc). Every once in a while I hear a rumor that somebody is going to start offering cafeteria-style pricing where you can pick the channels you want and pay for them…and then it never happens. I don’t even watch much TV anyway (mostly sports or news on in the background while I work or clean), but every once in a while you want to watch something and you pay $100 a month for the pleasure. Bunch of crap.

FCM

March 16th, 2011
1:24 pm

Agree…Cable/Dish is a big one but I pay mine too.

LOL about movies…on a blog earlier this week (about child care at the movies) I pointed out that I will not do premium for a movie too often. The last movie I saw in the theatre was HP 7 part I so that was last November I believe. The next one is likely to be HP 7 part II which will be July.

I went to generic drugs after I worked as a drug clerk at Eckerd (1987). In order for a store to put it’s lable on it (and to protect from lawsuits) Eckerd put the generic through 14 additional tests/trials that were not required by the FDA. The pharmacist I worked for said that was pretty standard practice for most of the store brands out in the world. Also, if you ask the pharmacist can get you a copy of the scientific data results of what tests the generic had done and how it fares against the brand.

On the wine…stopped drinking for the most part when I go out about 10 – 12 years ago. Occasionally a beer or ‘rita….But honestly I can buy a bottle of wine (good wine even) for what a glass at a restaurant costs.

JOD

March 16th, 2011
1:36 pm

So agree – cable/dish is a total racket. Even worse, when you want to watch something…nothing good is on. I like to tell myself that On Demand is worth it :o)

On the used textbooks – there is a HUGE difference in cost for college students. New books can be (read could be ~’96-’00) $60-$100 while the same book used can be $25-$50. Just ignore the previous highlighting and use a different color, although there usually isn’t a lot – books are screened before bought back. Also know that college professors are notorious for making small changes to their textbooks (those who write their own), then you have to buy new.

MomsRule

March 16th, 2011
1:44 pm

Cable/Dish TV — huge, huge, huge rip off. I hate paying the monthly bill.

I paid $16 (I think it was) for a large popcorn bucket at the theatre we frequent so now we pay $2.50 to fill it up when we go to the movies. I bought it last November and it is good through 2011 so it is good for more than a year. We do bring our own candy.

I pay $30 month for unlimited texting on 4 phones so I don’t feel like I’m getting ripped off on this one.

One of our cars does use super gasoline so this one I can’t avoid.

And, I do purchase brand name pain killers. Years ago, I tried a couple off/store brands and I did not like them as well. Now I stick with what I know works.

DB

March 16th, 2011
1:45 pm

Huge rip-off — toner for printers!!! My son said he has a friend at school who just buys a new $30 or $40 printer that comes with ink when his printer runs out of ink rather than shell out money on toner cartridges! Even at Costco, the name-brand toner cartridges are ridiculous — and they are bundled so you HAVE to buy more than you need. I just found a place that sells the cartridges for $10, instead of the $19-22 I had paid previously. Yah!

DB

March 16th, 2011
1:52 pm

@TWG: God bless used books! My daughter has even rented a couple of books for subjects not in her major — ultra-cheap! The thing that absolutely frosts me are the professors who give you a list of 8 books you need for a class, and you end up only using 2 of them. GRRRRR. I had to start buying textbooks in middle school (yep, private), so college wasn’t that much of a shock. At least, in high school, if you could find a family you “stair-stepped’ with, the books got passed around pretty equably (my son passed to her daughter, her son passed to my daughter, and it so it went!) I got REALLY good at shopping books on-line, and my kids learned early early on — check on-line before buying at the student store!

I don’t give a flip what kind of grade the person got who had the book before me, especially buying on-line — not even the same school, much less the same professor! I tended to be choosy about the used books — the less writing and highlights, the better.

jarvis

March 16th, 2011
1:54 pm

Outside of theater popcorn, I use none of these. I must be a pretty good consumer :).

It’s not what they are referencing here, but trust me when I tell you that “brand” of gasoline isn’t important either. It’s all the same.

JJ

March 16th, 2011
2:00 pm

Text messages – We have unlimited texting…….

Movie Theater popcorn – don’t go to movies much anymore. BIG RIPOFF

Free Credit Reports that cost money – been there, done that……$14/mo to “monitor”….no thanks..

Brand name pain killers – I use store brand Ibuprofen, and generic RXs.

Wine in restaurants – Don’t go to restaurants much, and when I do I don’t drink, unless it’s a beer or a margarita at a mexican restaurant. Olive Garden is generous with their wine…….but I can buy a bottle and take it home much cheaper!!!

College Textbooks – Chegg.com. We have saved close to $1,000 by renting college textbooks. The books are in great condition, and they plant a tree for every book you rent. Plus they send you everything you need in order to return the books, on Chegg’s dime……

Super Gasoline – I go to BP, but get the “regular”…….have to pay for gas, have to get to work…..

Hotel mini bars – NOPE, I take my own……

Hotel in-room movies – again, I don’t go to too many hotels……and when I am at a hotel, I very rarely watch tv……

So there ya go……..

But to me, Insurance is THE BIGGEST ripoff out there……you HAVE to have it, by law you are required to have it on your car, and you have to have it on your home, if you own. BUT make a claim, and suddenly you are high risk and they will cancel you…….

JJ

March 16th, 2011
2:02 pm

Jarvis – I beg to differ. Not all gasoline is the same. Some companies have cleaner gas, some don’t. I cannot use QT gas in my car, it makes the engine knock. No other gasoline makes my engine knock….but QT sure does.

Lori

March 16th, 2011
2:10 pm

How about places that still charge for wi-fi service. That’s a rip-off. Like 200/night isn’t enough for a hotel room that you can’t throw in the wi-fi for free!! Gimme a break, I’ll stay somewhere that does, thanks!

MomsRule

March 16th, 2011
2:12 pm

@JJ – very interesting about your experience with QT as I have the best luck with QT, I’ve had issues with other stations and for several years now I’ve made a point of filling up when my errands take me near QT. I wonder why our experiences are so different……….

JJ

March 16th, 2011
2:19 pm

@MomsRule – I have no idea. I thought maybe it was the car, but my current vehicle, and my past vehicle both knocked whenever I used QT gas.

I don’t like Kroger, Citgo, or Marathon gas either. BP gets the majority of my gas money….

HB

March 16th, 2011
2:22 pm

Those of you complaining about cable/dish — have you looked into doing an antennae/internet combo? In a metro area with a good antenna, you can probably get 20+ channels since everything went digital. I get about 30 just outside DC using only indoor rabbit ears, and I’m pretty sure I could pick up 10 or so more if I could set up an outdoor antenna. Lots of cable shows are available online a few days after the original airdate, and ESPN3 is included many high-speed internet packages, so I can watch most UGA games that aren’t broadcast on free networks. I can’t watch many Braves games up here, but since TBS dropped them, I wasn’t getting them on cable anymore anyway.

jarvis

March 16th, 2011
2:29 pm

JJ…trust me it is all the same.

It all comes out of the same refineries, it all goes comes to Atlanta through the same two pipes, it all lives in the same tanks until it’s ready to be distributed, and it is all delivered to the trucks through the same truck terminals.

It’s a commodity. It is all completely interchangeable right up until they put a ratio of a gallon of additive to thousands of gallons of fuel (For example, I think Chevron calls theirs Techron). It’s like peeing in the ocean.

DB

March 16th, 2011
2:31 pm

@JJ: I refuse to buy Citgo, even if I have to push the car to the next station. Not one penny of my money is going to Huge Chavez.

cc03

March 16th, 2011
2:33 pm

My husband and I rarely text, so it is cheaper for us to pay per text. We rarely go to the movies and when we do, we usually share popcorn and a drink. We take our own candy in my purse. We only go to the movies about twice a year, so it’s a nice treat. College textbooks are a huge rip off. You can pay $100+ for a new book, use it for one quarter/semester, resell it for next to nothing ($15 or $20) even if it’s in good condition. The bookstore will resell it for almost the same price as a new book. We don’t drink wine out very often anymore, but we will share a bottle if it’s a special occassion. A good bottle of wine can be purchased for less than $10 at a grocery store-it’s really hard for me to justify spending $6-$8 on one glass.

Stacey

March 16th, 2011
2:47 pm

I agree with those who put cable/satellite TV at the top of the list. I’m like everyone else who’s family only watches a dozen or so of our 250 channels. About 50 of those channels are just satellite music (no videos) and I personally don’t want a whole channel devoted to flute music.

I disagree that used textbooks are a ripoff. The new ones are the ones that I say are ripoffs, particularly when you go to sell them at the end of the semester and they only want to give you $5 for that $120 biology book that they will then turn around and sell used the next year for $60. I made the mistake 1st semester of my freshman year and going out and getting all new textbooks for my classes before class started thinking that there would be a shortage. When classes started 3 of my professors announced that they did not use the textbooks so we need not bother buying them. When I tried to return the books I was offered something like 10% of the purchase price because although the books had never actually been used, since I took them out of the store, they no longer considered them new.

As far as knowing the grade of the previous owner before believing the highlights, the person who highlighted the material didn’t write it so just because they got an “F” it doesn’t mean that the material is flawed. I tended to highlight keywords that I needed to study more or that might help me better understand the lecture. Plus if you have a different instructor than the previous owner, the material may or may not be covered in your class.

AngryRedMarsWoman

March 16th, 2011
3:08 pm

“It’s like peeing in the ocean.”

LOL. Glad someone explained that all our fuel comes in from the same holding tanks and pipelines. I have to use premium because of the cars I choose to buy – but hey, I say if you cannot afford to “feed” it or “clothe” (tires) it, then you shouldn’t get it…same goes for kids. I will NEVER go to Citgo…Chavez can suck it. QT is okay and normally the most convenient for me on the way to work. My son prefers the little cruncher ice cubes in the soda machine at AM/PM, so I fill up at BP a lot.

Lisa

March 16th, 2011
3:35 pm

JJ & Jarvis – there is a slight difference but not much. I work in the Environmental field and recently we did a test but it was extremely minimal differences. When they fill the higher octane tanks, they dump the remaining into the lower octane tanks and because of most people buying the cheaper gas, there is normally a large amount of high octane that gets dumped. Not sure about QT but I can tell you that Marathon stations have much more ethynol than others which is bad for your car/boat.

Lisa

March 16th, 2011
3:43 pm

Has anyone here been approached with mypennypincherscard.com? AKA “My harvest America”. I know I read another here a few weeks back warning us about it and I just want to say they are correct so if someone comes at you with this one, stay far from it please.

gpkbsin

March 16th, 2011
3:44 pm

I don’t get any of it except brand name pain medications for kids. But now that those are off the shelf, I don’t use them and so don’t get ripped by any of it.

Didn’t even have cable until couple years back. Now I have dishnetwork and its a little cheaper than cable. don’t need all the starz and hbo and all… just the daily channels and i’m happy.

gpkbsin

March 16th, 2011
3:45 pm

forgot to say that I used to get textbooks from the library when I was in college. I would rent them from different libraries if I couldn’t extend it. Had to walk miles to go to some libraries but then I didn’t have money back then to buy books.

Becky

March 16th, 2011
4:00 pm

Don’t use anything on the list except texting..I get 400 minutes per month for $5.00..That is plenty for me..

@jarvis..My ex works in the petroleum industry and he said the same thing about gasoline..Actually, the engineers at Chevron told him that about 25 yrs. ago..He also always told me to never fill up your gas tank when the tankers are there putting gas in to the underground tanks..It stirs up the dust and other “things” that are underground and it can get into your gas tank..

@AngerRedMarsWoman..The lady at COmcast told me the same thing about buying only the channels that you watch..Sure wish that would happen because I’m like the rest, watch about 8-10 channels and have to pay for all the others..

jarvis

March 16th, 2011
4:06 pm

@ Lisa, I wasn’t referring to octanes…those are definitely different. I was referring to brands of gas.

blaser

March 16th, 2011
4:09 pm

College textbooks are a big one; every semester I am amazed at the high price of some of these dumb books. I know more and more students are beginning to rent textbooks instead of buying them, which can help quite a bit at times.

jarvis

March 16th, 2011
4:10 pm

@Lisa, sorry just read the last part. Yes, ethonal differs, but it has to make up a government mandated %.

I’d love to know where your husband works. Be interested to know if we know each other.

jarvis

March 16th, 2011
4:10 pm

that last part was for Becky.

Becky

March 16th, 2011
5:00 pm

@jarvis..He owns his own company and I don’t really know the name of it, we’ve been divorced for 17 yrs..:~) His company actually repairs the gas “pumps”..

Mattie

March 16th, 2011
5:25 pm

Clark Howard did an article on premium vs. regular gas, and said for the average driver, you don’t need to use premium, even if your dealer says you should. I switched to regular, and have noticed no difference in performance around town. If I have to do some major highway driving, I will probably pay for premium.

I tried to dump cable, as I also think it’s a waste of money, but the majority male household I live in swear they need ESPN, ESPN2, History Channel. etc.

We never go to the movies, not because of the price of popcorn but because I can’t stand paying ticket prices just to deal with people who yak it up while the movie is playing. But, if there was something I wanted to see, I know I’m capable of sitting for 2 hours with neither a snack or a drink.

Wine in restaurants? Well, to me that’s part of the dining out experience, so I pay the price for a glass or two. I’ve even busted open a few hotel mini bars in my time, but woe to any child of mine who thought they could grab anything out of there without a really good reason.

Mattie

March 16th, 2011
5:26 pm

BTW, one of the biggest ripoffs on my radar is printer ink.

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Old Sandra

March 16th, 2011
7:44 pm

Well, we are currently living here over the pond but I’ll give ours anyways. :-) Ours is halogen light bulbs and gas (petrol).

We have ceiling light fittings that only take halogen bulbs (4 light fittings – 18 bulbs total – £1.20 each) and for some reason, if we are lucky, they may last a month. My husband will now only buy one bulb per light fitting. They were here when we moved in and will be next on our list for replacement after we redo the kitchen.

I’ve complained about the price of gas before so will just leave it at that.

There is a tv program/series that Heston Blumenthal is doing over here that showed on one episode just how big a money spinner popcorn is for the cinemas in this country. My eldest son loves watching Heston’s tv programs.

Miss Priss!

March 16th, 2011
7:53 pm

Toilet paper.

justmy2cents

March 16th, 2011
8:08 pm

@ Becky…it is BS&W, bottom sediment and water…I was a fueler in the army :o) and nope, I still don’t do windows LOL

We text, but daughter and I are on same plan, unlimited texting. Popcorn at movies…NCG here in Acworth has free refills on popcorn and drinks, so 1 tub of popcorn, two drinks, and the 4 of us share. Ziplock baggies are wonderful! Divvy it out before the movie starts and refill the tub before we miss any good previews. Calories be damned! :o)

Looking to get rid of Comcrap….OTA antenna an option, but think hubby is looking Direct Tv route. :o(

Techmom

March 16th, 2011
10:12 pm

I think the biggest things people “waste” money on is late fees b/c they forget to pay their bills on time. And of course we talked about the Groupons the other day as well (my waste came from a HalfOffDepot.com passes that expired very quickly- you better believe I’ll look more closely at expiration dates in the future).

Textbooks – in college I always bought used if I could and NEVER bought a book until after the first class. I found that normally the dean of the department would choose the book list and then you’d get into the class only to find out it either wouldn’t be used or wouldn’t be used much (or you COULD use a different version). My physics teacher told us we would only use our books for reference and the study guides at the end of the chapters were useful. I promptly borrowed someone’s book, spent about $5 in copies and didn’t spend the $160 everyone else did. I think CHEGG is awesome and I’m looking forward to seeing how eBooks are going to revolutionize textbooks. Think about how you can loan/borrow books on Kindles now. Personal sharing is limited to 14 days and at that point the book is automatically “returned” to the owner. So the theory is that you can rent a book electronically for say 90-120 days (a semester) and at the end, the license expires and you can no longer use the book without having to mail anything. Talk about environmentally friendly too!

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HB

March 17th, 2011
12:20 am

I agree with Mattie on wine at restaurants. Anything is cheaper if you have it at home — food, soda, beer, whatever–but I want my soda while I’m eating pizza out with friends, not later that night at home. If you like having wine with your meal, then it’s no more of a rip-off than eating out in general is.

I am whatever you say I am

March 17th, 2011
1:11 am

I’ve always known wine (and don’t forget hard liquor) purchased at restaurants and bars was a huge market but for some odd reason, I still buy it.
Maybe it’s the fact that you are actually out and about enjoying yourself makes you desire the need to buy versus drinking the same bottle of wine 85% cheaper at home.
And as you know, not too many place if at all are going to allow you to bring your own bottle to the establishment to open unless you are at a BYOB venue.

So, since we all know how we are being ripped off allow me to share my ways of stretching a dollar

1) when you get a car wash, get the cheapest price wash possible. The brushes still contain the hot wax, etc… from the previous user that opted for premium suds
Personally, I believe in handwashing and if that’s your option, pay the do it yourself places for the water if you don’t have access to an area to wash your car ($3-$7) for a wash and vacuum yourself.
If you keep your car neat (yes with kids, it’s possible) you will probably spend $1-$2 in vacumming

2) Cancel Cable, Infinity, the Dish, etc….. and sign up for Netflix.
With Netflix- certain movies/TV shows are available for instant download viewing to your WII, laptop, etc…if you don’t want to wait for the DVD to arrive and they have a plethora of movies/TV shows for the kiddos (all ages) to watch as well on an instant download. Honestly, I think they have more kids/tween programs available for instant download compared to adult programing.
This is a huge win with my 3 year old and I have yet to spend a dime on a video for him

3) Need a Rental? Most places only have the $9.99 rate during weekends as a special but during the week it can be costly. Call a major rental car place and say that (enter major insurance company here) is cutting you a check to cover your rental while your vehicle is being repaired but they are only authorizing $16.99 per day and ask what can they get you in for $16.99 or under?
If they ask for a name of who’s handling the claim, Say John or Mike but you can’t recall the last name since it’s the other guy’s insurance that is liable for your car repairs and that you don’t have the claim number handy. They may say something like I can get you something for that rate but it comes with insurance which your respond I’ll purchase insurance but the total cost of the car + insurance cannot exceed $16.99. And that’s where the negotiations begin (rental car companies make profits off the insurance they sell and not off the cars they rent so they have to sell x amount insurance in order for the branch to meet/exceed quota) Exceed quota= Job Promotions for the branch

4) And Lastly, if you must drink at a restaurant, drink during happy and only drink house specials
The amount will still be high but not nearly as high if you were to indulge during normal peak hours

:-)

I am whatever you say I am

March 17th, 2011
1:12 am

Sorry for my novel but I like to share ways to save since this economy is tight!

I am whatever you say I am

March 17th, 2011
1:19 am

Oh My Bad!!! Forgot to add that if you have to have cable programing, don’t buy cable/ the dish/ Xfinity/ etc….
Nowadays, major networks (HBO included) are available for free (yes, you heard right FREE) on the net.
Do a google search for free internet TV and watch the links pop up. don’t do the options that have you fill out a survey or do a download to watch. Those are scams and will give you virus.
Instead once you pull up a link for free internet TV, type in the name of the program you are looking for (you can also do a google search for free internet (enter name of program here) and links will populate in the search history.
Examples of shows I’ve watched: Lakers versus Celtics playoff (live and not pre-recorded)
HBO movies, Everybody Loves Raymond, Fox 5 in California, etc….

Mr. Freeze

March 17th, 2011
9:02 am

The items are on your list are self imposed rip offs. If you don’t see the value, don’t make the purchase. However, what about a “rip off” that you almost must make the purchase?
For example,car Ad Valorem taxation in the state of Georgia. Who knew plastic decals could cost so much? Yes, I know it’s taxation but it’s still a blatant rip off to me.Next,the service fee that AGL tacks on to my monthly gas utility bill. Almost 38.00 dollars a month even if I don’t use any natural gas? The people in the state of Georgia were so much better off before deregulation of the industry.
Finally, don’t even get me cranked up about Comcast. A company that holds a virtually monopoly in my area and compounds the issue with virtually no customer service.

shaggy

March 17th, 2011
9:23 am

Mr. Freeze,

Gas deregulation was a fraud put over on a gullible citizenship that actually believed the politicians. It amounted to inserting middlemen (gas marketers) into an otherwise direct buying set up that existed for GA consumers. INSTANTLY, the price of gas to the consumers went through the roof, as these crooks sold you something that they never owned in the first place…of course, with their “fees” (near 91% profit margin) added. Just go back and look at the marketer’s, and you will see either connections to the PSC of the day, AGL, or energy companies not even located in GA
.
It was a very sordid, corrupt, but sweetheart deal from the start, and the GA citizenship bent over and took it…even asked for another… Sometimes, this is a VERY dumb state.

1911A1

March 17th, 2011
11:25 am

Let’s talk about government-mandated, -subsidized and -tax-break-incentivized corn ethanol in fuel that can ruin the fuel systems in lawnmowers, chainsaws and older vehicles. Grrrrrrr………..

Elaine Daly

March 17th, 2011
4:31 pm

Will someone please tell me where I can spend $594.90 a month and get back $805.00 a month in giftcards from the #1 credit card company in the country except from My Harvest America? This price includes the mebership fees and the cost of the cards. That is $210.10 extra in your pocket every month by doing nothing but paying membership dues and buying cards. If you want the truth you can email me at mhapays@live.com There are diffrent levels of payment for diffrent levels of membership and the card combination you buy. I dont know about you but I can use an extra $210 a month.

Mr. Freeze

March 17th, 2011
5:06 pm

@Shaggy

Thank you for your accurate post. To this day, I have yet to understand why there has been such an apathetic attitude toward natural gas deregulation in this state. Where is the public outrage over such large monthly bill increases?

Kat

March 17th, 2011
5:49 pm

@justmy2cents: I live up there as well, and we LOVE NCG! One bucket of popcorn and I split it up among some large cups that we divide out beforehand. Then, they always refill it on the spot!

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Carrie

March 19th, 2011
9:25 am

College textbooks are so expensive as we know after 4 college kids.. here are some ideas our kids used to save money.. with all the new online applications, there is help coming too.. but in the meantime some of these are simple enough..like getting your course syllabus early and checking the books out of the campus library for free: http://www.celebrationideasonline.com/saving-money-on-college-textbooks.html Just gotta get the kids to be organized and start early..

Ann

March 20th, 2011
6:32 pm

We canceled our Charter cable about 4 months ago, because we watched so little and it wasn’t worth the price. We got a cheap $20 indoor antenna and we can pick up about a dozen channels. We may upgrade to another antenna to pick up a few more channels. The digital picture is also clearer than it was with cable. So, we have no monthly tv costs, other than Netflix. Between the channel choices, Netflix, and watching something special occasionally via the Internet, we have enough to watch, and we are saving over about $720 per year.

deidre_NC

March 22nd, 2011
1:21 am

cable is dead weight but i also pay for it. rather the kid that lives with pays for it…if he doesnt it gets turned off as i do not watch it. i can see anything i want to on my laptop…half.com has save my daughter and me literally 100’s of dollars. not too much highlights-i dont usually get the very cheapest…but we havent had the first problem with this. plus you can sell them back to the school bookstore (they dont care where you got them) and actually make some money.