Ever think you’re getting ripped off? You probably are.
A wide range of products in the United States qualify as rip-offs. Everything from the popcorn you buy at the movies to the diamonds you purchase for your engagement come with sky-high markups.
At the risk of angering consumers across the country, here are the top 10 ways in which consumers get ripped off on a regular basis:
10. Cosmetics: Did you know that 80 to 90 percent of most makeup consists of dirt? Oil and wax are other main ingredients. The question, then, is this: Why does makeup cost so much? The answer, marketing convinces people that the product is more exotic than it really is.
9. Bottled water: Water is one of the Earth’s most plentiful resources. The person who decided to encase it in plastic and sell it at a premium was a marketing genius. The United States, not surprisingly, leads the world in the consumption of bottled water. U.S. consumers bought about 33 million liters of the stuff in 2007, a big jump from the 21 million liters they purchased in 2002. Mexico comes next; its residents purchased 22 million liters of bottled water in 2007. In China, that number stood at 18 million while it reached more than 13 million in Brazil. The residents of Italy were thirsty, too; they purchased more than 11 million liters of bottled water in 2007.
8. Greeting cards: Paper isn’t expensive, unless it boasts bad poetry. Greeting cards come with a markup of 100 to 200 percent.
7. Mattresses/furniture: Here’s a question: Why are mattresses and furniture always on sale? It’s because salespeople make a higher commission, about 20 percent, if they sell these items at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. If they sell these items at the minimum advertised price, salespeople only nab a commission of about 7 percent.
6. Restaurant drinks: If you can avoid ordering drinks the next time you eat out, you might be surprised at how much lower your total bill comes in at. Wine in restaurants comes with markups ranging from 300 percent to 600 percent. Soda is even worse. The average 12-ounce soft drink costs restaurants nickels, but they sell them to their patrons for dollars.
5. Brand-name clothing: Again, you might be surprised at the size of the markup on brand-name clothing: 500 percent to a whopping 1,000 percent.
4. Diamonds, jewelry: Again, these items boast some incredible markups. Jewelers rely on uneducated shoppers to charge markups of 100 percent to 1,000 percent.
3. Glasses and frames: Most glasses frames consist of little more than a scrap of metal. For some reason, this scrap carries an average markup of 1,000 percent.
2. Movie popcorn and candy: Here’s an interesting stat: Concession sales at movie theaters account for about 20 percent of the average theater’s sales. But they also account for about 40 percent of their annual profits. What’s the recipe for success here? These treats come with markups ranging from 900 percent to 1,200 percent.
1. Prescription medicine: Prescription drugs top the list of rip-off products. This is unfortunate; the high costs keep important medication out of the hands of people who can’t afford the markups.