As careful as many people try to be about parting with their money, everyone has had a company rip them off at least once in their lives. Whether they promised something they didn't deliver or hid something undesirable, some businesses have made themselves hard to trust.
But sadly, the tricks that sneaky marketers can pull are plentiful in number and vary in levels of subtlety. After all, all major companies have marketing departments that think of new ways to give themselves an advantage day in and day out. However, it seems that some consumers are proving just as wily.
And They Would've Gotten Away With It, Too
Out of context, it's hard to understand what's so wrong with this singular slice of pizza on this store shelf. However, Reddit user GitEmSteveDave had been in this Wegmans location during the previous day and noticed something interesting on their second visit.
Namely, that they were looking at the same slice of pizza they spotted the day prior. In other words, the store was selling day-old goods at the same price as when it was fresh. That sell-by date is doing a lot of heavy lifting.
Shrinkflation Seems To Be Happening Everywhere
Nothing makes someone feel ripped off quite like a sheet of pills that lies about how many it actually contains. It may have the right grooves for all of its spaces, but only some of those spaces are actually filled. It's like an Advent calendar that only gives people chocolate some of the time.
As for why the manufacturer would do this, it comes down to a concept known as "shrinkflation." Businesses know customers don't like it when they raise prices, so they run roughly the same principle in reverse. Customers may pay the same price, but they get less for that money.
Give Them A Second, They Need To Get Their Story Straight
It may be a little hard to see the discrepancy here, but this is a case where this product's marketing has backed it into an unexpected corner. After all, the label says in the clearest possible terms that this is a copper knife.
However, the bulleted list of features under the "stays sharp forever" promise says the knife is made of stainless steel, which obviously made one customer a little suspicious. That makes that "never needs sharpening" promise a little hard to believe now.
Misleading Brand Names Are The Worst
When someone buys a bottle of vitamin gummies that are marketed as "one a day," one would think they have a reasonable expectation that they're supposed to take just one a day. However, a look at the supplement facts on the back suggests that the appropriate serving size is actually two gummies.
So not only does this bottle contain half the value it's being sold as having, but customers who don't read this information aren't getting the right supplementary vitamins they turned to this company for. Isn't it great when a brand's name is not only meaningless but counter-productive?
Hope The Money Was Worth It Because It's All They Get
When Reddit user colder-beef ordered this goat curry, they were led by the promotional picture to believe they would receive a hearty meal loaded with the meat. And considering they paid $24 for this, it's natural that they'd have every reason to expect nothing less.
However, "less" is exactly what they got. As they described it, there were maybe two ounces of meat in this dish, and most of it was gristle. On what planet is such a skimpy goat curry worth anywhere near $24?
People Just Love Seeing Ads On Stuff They Already Own
When Reddit user Lockok5500 updated the software on their phone, they were very annoyed to discover that the point of this update was apparently to shove intrusive advertising onto to their screen. To add insult to injury, it's telling them to clean their device like it's not the thing dirtying it right now.
And as this person was even less impressed to discover, these ads aren't removable either. And even if this app manager is disabled, it comes right back with the next update. All because the mobile provider is apparently worried their customers will forget what they signed up for. The monthly bill is enough of a reminder, thanks.
There's Misleading, And Then There's Just Lying
If they were to look at this package, a seasoned customer might expect the empanadas inside not to feature quite the generous load of chicken and cheese presented here. And whatever is in there probably doesn't look quite so presentable.
However, even that somewhat cynical viewpoint can't prepare someone for the utter ripoff that was waiting in this box. Not only are the empanadas not loaded with their filling, but they seem to be missing it entirely. Does this company not want return customers?
They're Not Fooling Anybody
When Reddit user pepe-roni111 stepped into a Nordstrom location, they noticed that these Skechers boots were being presented as much more expensive Magnannis. Considering how loose the fake label was and how easily revealed the real one was, they wondered how the store expected to get away with that.
Well, based on a frantic message they received from a store manager and how shoddily the label was applied, they didn't. It seems some unscrupulous customer swapped their Skechers for the real thing and did a poor job covering it up. It's still a good reminder to check products carefully before buying them.
They Expected People To Fall For This?
After HBO Max planned some service changes, they sent this email outlining how customers on the Ad-Free Plan would be affected. But while one user wasn't thrilled with the reduction of streaming quality and allowed devices, that wasn't what stuck in their craw the most.
Instead, they were insulted by the idea that these rollbacks in service were presented as "new features" and not the deterioration that they obviously were. Nobody wants to pay the same price for less, but they especially don't want to hear people insult their intelligence by acting like it's a good thing.
Not Even Remotely Like The Picture On The Box
At this point, it's well-known that just about every food company on the planet takes staged shots of a product that never looks like the real thing. And it's also commonly understood that frozen dinners like this aren't exactly the best possible choices on the market.
But budget food should at least seem edible, and the real product should at least look like it's from the same decade as the picture on the box. It's hard to tell that this little turkey slice is even supposed to be food.
A Scummy Practice To Make An Ad Seem More Important
Apparently, some companies have made their junk mail less likely to stay unopened by disguising them as bills. Worse yet, these glorified ads are presented as urgent bills that would either see services turned off or get a homeowner in debt if they're not paid.
This not only makes savvy customers infuriated at the promotional materials they end up seeing but dupes more vulnerable customers into thinking they'll ruin their lives if they don't do what the company asks. Needless to say, this is a disgusting way to drum up business.
As If The Fine Print Wasn't Bad Enough
It's unclear what this label is attached to, but the terms it's expecting customers to accept are so ludicrous that it doesn't really matter. Want to know what this product's packaging is expecting people to agree to? Well, that's too bad!
If they can't see the literature that outlines the terms the company expects the customer to accept, how could their agreement mean anything? Such spurious "agreements" aren't enforceable for precisely that reason, but they're hoping people won't realize that. This is definitely a turn-off for dealing with that company at all.
This Isn't A Real Sticker And That's A Huge Problem
Although this may seem like an annoying sticker that gets in the way of important information by presenting supposed customer reviews, the reality is actually worse than that. And considering where this blurb is placed, this design flaw couldn't seem more deliberate.
That's because it's a permanent feature of the bottle that is covering up the mandatory health warning. So not only are customers given little reason to believe these reviews (who even left them? It doesn't say), but they look like they're strategically placed to hide something people have a right to know.
Perception Isn't Always Reality
This image is an important reminder not to trust pre-made sandwiches with packages that don't show off the whole thing. Some would leave that advice at "don't trust pre-made sandwiches," but that discounts how much subtle work innocent-looking packaging can do to cheat customers out of what they paid for.
Imagine carefully constructing something to look filling for just as long as it takes a poor soul to fall for this bait-and-switch. Did they really think people were just going to accept such an obvious disappointment? Is the penny-pinching here really worth it?
The Brand's Thumb Isn't On The Scale. It's Screwed Into It
Sometimes, companies will ship their products with stickers that say, "warranty void if broken" or "warranty void if removed." In this case, that seems to mean the warranty might as well promise the customer a free unicorn with their return since this little screw suggests it was voided before the product even arrived. And if that seems like an illegal trick to avoid honoring any warranty provisions, that's not the half of it.
According to NPR, the Federal Trade Commission explained that even intact stickers of this nature are illegal because they tie warranty coverage to specific products and services. Because if a company doesn't even let customers look inside their products, those customers could be scared away from third-party services that do that.
This Is As Illegal As It Gets
Although many counterfeit products are hilariously unsubtle about being knock-offs, it's a lot less funny when the product isn't a "Robert Cop" toy. When batteries haven't undergone the safety testing people expect from major brands, they can end up starting fires.
And that threat is particularly pernicious when a counterfeit manufacturer disguises their products as belonging to a more trusted name brand. So, while these concealing sleeves are illegal, many customers wouldn't even be aware that they don't have the real thing until it's already too late.
One Little Phrase Somehow Means This Isn't A Lie
If someone reached into this bin without reading the label, they might think that they were paying this hefty price for a wool coat. However, the label reveals that this particular item is actually made from much cheaper polyester with no wool in it whatsoever.
However, the customer would find that if they tried to dispute this misleading sign, they wouldn't get very far. That's because the sign also says "other items as ticketed," which means the bin may include irrelevant items. Still, this jacket better not cost the same as the wool one.
This Shouldn't Happen, But It Can And Does
According to ABC13, it's illegal for the per gallon price at the pump not to match the price listed on the marquee. So, that would mean that the discrepancy between these prices listed here is a clear violation of the law, right? Not necessarily.
That's because the outlet also mentioned that it's not illegal to put the "cash only" price on the marquee but to add a hidden surcharge for using a credit card. So this misled customer only has a case if this pump price stays intact when they try to pay cash. Otherwise, it's underhanded and tricky but not illegal.
Those Poor Servers
When Reddit user license2chillio visited a restaurant they didn't name, they were confused by this 18% service charge on their bill. After all, the bill still suggested tipping rates while saying that the service charge helps facilitate a living wage for their employees.
However, the Redditor's waiter told them he doesn't actually get any of this money, which means the owners are pocketing the service charge and leaving the servers to fend for themselves. And since that service charge only discourages tipping, this dishonest language is making it harder for them to survive.
Good To Know Those Follower Counts Are Wholly Legit
One bizarre feature of Instagram is that users browsing the platform can follow as many accounts as they want as often as they want. While it's nice not to have that restriction, it doesn't do much about the pervasive problem of automated services that let influencers boost their follower counts with bots and other fake accounts.
Yet, for some reason, the platform is much more stringent about how many accounts can be unfollowed in a given day. Although the platform says it's to protect their community, it makes users who are overhauling their accounts wait several days to unfollow people they were already sure about on day one. So Instagram doesn't care how people get followers, but it cares immensely about how they lose them.
Wow, What A Steal!
Generally, one can expect a sale price to be lower than the usual listed price, yes? Even if the savings aren't significant, that extra label should be a sign there will be any savings at all. But obviously, that isn't the case here.
Right down to the penny, the price listed on this "low prices" tag is exactly the same as these Zebra Cakes would normally cost. Maybe the fact it says "low prices" rather than anything explicitly describing the product as on sale is how they get away with this redundancy.
If Their Math Seems Wrong, Look Closer
At first glance, this looks like a pretty cut-and-dry case of false advertising. The store labeled this product as a sale item available at 70% off, but the inside tag reveals the price doesn't match this percentage and is only 40% off.
And while that's true enough, that doesn't mean the sale tag didn't already tell everyone that in its own sneaky way. After all, the tag is saying that this item is on sale for "up to" 70% off. Misleading as it may be, it's not lying because 40% falls in that range.
Not Everybody Gets What They Pay For
When a social media advertisement for AMC came across Reddit user Arucious's feed, they quickly found a reason to consider it misleading. And it wasn't the "unlimited" part of the ad they had a problem with, but the "butter" part. After all, they noted, the butter-like flavoring agent AMC adds to movie theater popcorn isn't butter at all.
Instead, it's largely hydrogenated soybean oil. They also mentioned that AMC is more transparent about this once customers get to the theater, as it's called "butter flavor" there. By committing that last word in their ads, AMC is giving the false impression they offer real butter.
Making The Shopping Experience Harder For Fun And Profit
Assuming that these QR codes even work, there's no way they could do a better job of showing customers the available drinks in this store than their eyes could. As this caption notes, that was very true when one embittered customer found themselves flying blind and opening five doors when they could have just opened one.
However, there's a good chance that efficiency was never the goal here. Instead, what should be just a means to find out what's in stock is yet another opportunity to show customers an advertisement. Because if there's one thing everyone needs in their lives, it's more advertisements.
A Subtle But Devious Design Choice
Although it often happens slower than people wish, companies can find that they get themselves into a lot of trouble when they don't give customers a means to unsubscribe from their service. However, that doesn't mean some of them won't make it as hard as possible.
And in this case, one devious brand has baked its customer retention trick into its website design. If someone wants to unsubscribe, they have to ignore every impulse that tells them to click the green button and realize they have to click the button that looks like it should say "no" to finish the process.
By The Time Anyone Notices, They're Long Gone
After Reddit user Significant-Lack-392 bought a home from house flippers, they noticed the brown streaks running down their walls. Naturally, they were concerned that their pipes leaked some unpleasant byproduct into the house and investigated. However, what they had discovered was that the flippers hadn't been very honest with them.
By that, they meant that these brown streaks were more characteristic of the walls than the white paint would suggest. That's because the previous owners were chain smokers, which meant the flippers just painted over the resulting residue and called it a day. Now, these appear any time there's steam in the house.
True In The Most Frustratingly Technical Way Possible
When Reddit user Statience bought this velvet art set from 5 Below, they were disappointed to see that there were duplicates among the projects included. However, little did they know that this was only the beginning of the ways they would feel ripped off by this product.
After all, it turned out that the only velvet in these art pieces was at the edges of each of these sheets' borders. There's just enough velvet here for it not to be a complete lie but nowhere near enough to actually satisfy anyone.
They're Holding The Product's Main Function Hostage
When people buy a printer, they can typically expect the price they paid to give them the right to have the item and use it when they get home. However, it seems that this is only half-true, and that doesn't become apparent until they've already started using it.
Unbeknownst to them, all they paid for was a free trial of the printer they bought. To actually use the product for longer than the undefined "grace period," they then have to pay yet more money for a supply plan. Otherwise, the printer refuses to do its job. That sounds like something the mafia would do.
Even A Cool Employee Can't Help Anyone Now
It's not unheard of to buy a soda fountain drink and find that there's a store policy limiting how many refills a customer can get. However, that policy is now baked into the cups themselves in some places.
For those unaware, the little gray circle at the bottom of this cup is where a computer chip was installed into the cup. Thanks to this chip, even the sneakiest customers can't get more refills than they're allowed because the machine will refuse to dispense them.
It's Admittedly Clever, But It's Still Pretty Messed Up
At first glance, this pizza shop gives the impression that its customers are in for an incredible bargain. Judging by the white text, it looks like each slice only costs a dollar. However, a devious design feature reveals that this isn't actually true.
That's because there's some black text within that white outline that reveals that each slice actually costs $3.99. Perhaps that's why it matches the minimum price of the "lunch special" sign next to it. It can't be unseen once it's noticed, but it looks like it's designed to go unnoticed.
Even If This Weren't A Knock-Off, It Would Be Shady
When examining this olive oil bottle, an attentive consumer would already be pretty suspicious of its contents. That's because the brand name is Berloti, which is both a similar name and amid identical iconography for the more widely-recognized Bertolli company.
However, the biggest problem is that unlike the brand it's ripping off, Berloti doesn't really sell extra virgin olive oil. Instead, it sells vegetable oil that's dubiously blended with extra virgin olive oil. Naturally, those clarifying facts are written in smaller text than what the customers are actually looking for.
Just About Every Claim On This Bag Is A Lie
If a customer were to take this candy at face value, they'd believe they were getting a vegan product that's both fat-free and contains no high-fructose corn syrup. However, they would also discover that literally none of these things are true if they look on the back.
The promise of no high-fructose corn syrup is broken by the fact that this exact ingredient is listed among the others. That ingredient list also notes that the candy contains confectioner's glaze, which OU Kosher identifies as an insect secretion and, therefore, not vegan. Finally, it contains a "trivial" amount of fat, which is also now a hard word to trust.
Well, At Least They Can See How They're Being Ripped Off
For years, customers have been complaining about how many chips come in their chip bags compared to the air they're packaged with. In fairness, some air in the bag prevents the chips from crumbling as much in transit, but that doesn't mean there aren't companies abusing this fact.
For instance, well over half of this bag is clearly empty. And judging by the one next to it, this wasn't the result of a factory worker getting hungry. At least the little window warns customers that this isn't worth buying ahead of time.
They Are Obviously Doing This On Purpose
Considering how large and intentionally designed these menu boards are, the owners of this coffee shop couldn't make it more obvious that they're price-gouging customers if they tried. After all, how outrageous do the prices have to be for them to refuse even to list them?
Hopefully, whoever made the decision to run their coffee shop like a casino wasn't counting on getting many return customers. Or customers at all since one look at these mystery prices would make a lot of people turn around and go elsewhere.
It Looks Like A Lot, But Looks Can Be Deceiving
When someone buys this metal canister of hot chocolate, they might be under the impression that the tub would be directly loaded with the powder used to make the drink. However, shrinkflation strikes again, and customers are left with a disappointing extra step.
And that extra step is to open the packages that powder comes in. Not only do those packages take up room that could have just included the powder itself, but they don't even fill that much of the canister. This is a valuable lesson to go by the weight of the ingredient listed and not the size of the package.
They Know Most People Aren't Going To Check
Whether they're worried about voiding the warranty or breaking something, most people aren't going to open up the ink cartridges in their printers. When they run out, these big and bulky cartridges are simply swapped out for another one.
But if it seems like they don't take long to run out despite their size, that's not just because of a customer's imagination. When someone actually does take a look inside, they discover how tiny the important part of the cartridge really is.
Well, Well, Well, It's The Latest In Placebo Machines!
While it's hard to put much faith in an air purifier with nebulous specs, and that's unclear about what it's certified to do, this is a blatant ripoff even by that standard. Because even if the other ones don't work that well, they're at least doing something in the process.
Meanwhile, this unit was packaged with just enough electronic components to turn the little lights at the front on. Other than that, it's completely empty inside and has no practical use whatsoever. Hopefully, it was at least cheap.
Yes, Very Necessary And Not At All An Excuse To Waste Ink
Soon after this printer was set up, it started printing out this ad as a kind of test page. The only problem is that this ad seemed like it was intended to use as much expensive cyan ink as possible.
Considering how small the cartridges already are, this is tantamount to rubbing salt into a wound that customers didn't have to suffer in the first place. Moreover, it's not like anyone needs an advertisement for a product they've already purchased.
That's One Loose Approximation
It's a little hard to see what's wrong with the pack of pizza rolls in this picture, but the important part is the fact that the bag says it contains "approximately" 40 rolls. Not only is that a dubious way of telling customers what they're going to get, it's not even remotely true.
When this person laid all their pizza rolls out on a cookie sheet, they discovered that they had 28 of them in all. That would be close if the bag said it contained "approximately" 30 pizza rolls, but it comes up seriously short if there's supposed to be 40. Sorry, "approximately" 40.
It's Like They Were Laughing As They Packaged This
Apparently, the chocolates in this little package from Bali taste nice, and the person who took this photo also liked the designs of their wrapping. That's all nice, but it's still hard not to feel a little ripped off when the packaging around them is considered.
After all, there's just enough chocolate in here to seem enticing through the transparent "Bali" letters. It's one thing to hide an insulting cost-cutting method in a package, but it's quite another to actually design the package to take up as much space as possible.