It’s a good time to be a consumer. As the recession continues to roll on, more and more excellent deals on hot ticket items are becoming available—flat screen televisions, computers, cars, and even homes are cheaper than ever.
But they’ve got to find a way to screw you, don’t they? Some products, many that we all pay for on a daily or weekly basis, are more expensive than they ever rightly should be.
7. Movie Theater Concessions
While it’s extremely unlikely that you’d pay over eight dollars for a bag of microwave popcorn at the grocery store, chances are you spent that and then some on snacks whenever you attended the latest Seth Rogan flick. Prices at movie theater concession stands have become comically high over the past ten years, and it only looks like they’re going to get higher.
Why are the prices so ridiculous? Because we keep paying them. Box offices sales are up about 11% over last year as Americans search for less expensive outings with the family, and theaters looking to capitalize on crowds markup the belly bombs. Especially popcorn, which according to economic professor Richard McKenzie, is marked up 1,275% an ounce.
Why the hell do we continue to pay for it? Unfortunately, most movie goers have been programmed to associate a night at the cinema with stuffing their faces. And as theaters continue to enforce the “no outside food” rule, the expensive concession stand seems like a hungry consumer’s only option. But it might be time to start sneaking those Snickers bars in your purse, people. They won’t change their ways if we don’t.
In the south, people are frequently caught smuggling these into Martin Lawrence films.
6. Event Parking
We’ve all been there. You’re excited as hell to be driving to the Jonas Brothers concert (come on, the middle one is a total dreamboat), but when you arrive, there’s a small hitch: event parking is ten dollars. On top of that, they only accept cash, and you’ve just got your debit card with you. By the time you drive around the block, find an ATM (more on them later), get your cash, and make it back, most of the spots are taken, and the first hit single has already been performed. So much for uploading the song on YouTube to make your friends jealous!
Why are the prices so ridiculous? Because owners of the lots can charge you whatever they want. Whether you’re parking in the venue’s lot or the surrounding ones, you can expect to pay a steep price. The only true way to avoid emptying your bank account is to park blocks and blocks away from your destination, but then you’d have to, you know, walk. Ew.
Why the hell do we continue to pay for it? Let’s face it: they kind of have us by the balls. You’ve bought the tickets, you’ve bought the Jonas t-shirt, and you’ve bought the gas to get there—is there really any way you’re going to refuse to pay for parking and miss the show? It’s doubtful. So until city governments put caps on what can be charged for parking, we’ll probably continue to fork over the dough.
5. ATM Fees
It’s easy to forget the exorbitant fees that competing banks charge you for using their ATMs—especially while on vacation, the time when most of us are usually forced to use a different bank’s machine. But a week later, after the hangover has worn off and you’re reviewing your statement, you’ll realize just what kind of crooks you’re dealing with. Some banks have the nards to charge around four dollars per transaction.
Why are the prices so ridiculous? Since the banking bailout, almost all banks have increased their ATM usage fees in order to gain some additional revenue and maintain their reputation of being evil. The average ATM fee jumped last year to nearly two dollars.
Why the hell do we continue to pay for it? When you need your cash, you need your cash. Whether you’re buying souvenirs in Orange Beach or a last minute wedding gift in New Jersey, chances are you feel your trip to the ATM is essential. And while at the time a two dollar withdrawal fee may seem inconsequential, when you think about it, damn. It is your money, after all.
4. Doctor’s Visits
The worst part of that congestion thing you get every February? Shelling out the money to sit in your doctor’s office and wait three hours, only to finally be prescribed the exact same thing you were prescribed last year. For the increasing number of Americans without health insurance, a visit to the doctor can be a real bank breaker (and time waster).
Why are the prices so ridiculous? Besides helping to pay for the doctor’s salaries, you often pay loads of cash on tests you really didn’t need in the first place. In most situations, it costs the physician nothing to order these tests, and gets you out of their hair. They have to deal with their complicated love lives, like in Grey’s Anatomy, which is a documentary.
Why the hell do we continue to pay for it? It’s easy to see the importance in paying for this one—your health is your life, and it’s hard to put a number on that. But more and more alternatives to doctor visits are beginning to present themselves. Did you know that your local Walgreens probably has a nurse practitioner on staff who can prescribe the same stuff your doctor can, for at least than half the price? No? Maybe you should look into that.
That will be one billion dollars.
3. Printer Ink
Sure, you can pick up a dinky little printer for around fifty bucks at your local Best Buy, but it’s the hidden cost of ink that’ll really get you. According to a 2008 study by the American Consumer Institute, printer refill cartridges can end up costing the consumer over 500% of the cost of the printer. That fifty dollar printer just ended up costing you over five hundred. Better hold off on printing that high resolution picture of Jessica Alba.
Why are the prices so ridiculous? It’s a tried and true way of selling a product: slash the price of the main item and markup the prices of its parts. Give away the frames of the glasses, but charge out the ass for the lenses. Lose money with each razor you sell, earn it back with the price of the blades.
Why the hell do we continue to pay for it? Not enough of us know that there are alternative ways to get ink for our printers. Stores like Walgreens and Wal-Mart run their own, in-house refill booths, and the prices are often much less than those of brand new cartridges. There are also kits that enable you to fill your old cartridges, but those can get kind of messy (never do it near the cat. Trust us.).
2. Drinks at Restaurants
Of course you want to impress your lady friend when you take her out for the first date to your favorite restaurant. Who wouldn’t? She’s cute, she’s funny, she’s smart—you just better hope she’s not the drinking type, because that’ll run you some money.
Appletinis are more expensive than a beer – just a fact of life.
Why are the prices so ridiculous? Alcohol at restaurants has the highest markup of any other product on the menu, and it’s obvious. Five dollars for a beer? Six dollars for a vodka cranberry? One New York area restaurant marks up wine 575%. Oftentimes dinners at semi-nice restaurants are high pressure situations—like the first date mentioned above or a business meeting—and managers know that you’ll break out the big bucks if it means impressing your guests. So they charge a lot.
Why the hell do we continue to pay for it? There really is something special about drinking in a public place, isn’t there? It almost feels like you’re getting away with something. We continue to pay high prices for drinks in restaurants because it’s been like this for a while, and not enough of us have questioned it. Let’s go grab a beer and discuss it.
1. College Textbooks
While it’s common knowledge that the cost of attending a four year institution of higher learning is astronomical, a less known ridiculous expense is the textbooks that you need to get in order to pass any classes. According to a recent U.S Department of Education study, college text books prices have increased 186 percent since 1986, around 6 percent a year. Textbooks are now accounting for 26 percent of the expense of college (the rest being on tuition and ramen noodles).
Above: a month’s worth of food.
Why are the prices so ridiculous? The rise of textbook prices is typically due to the frequent publishing of new editions and textbook supplements, aimed at forcing students to buy almost identical items year after year without the chance of selling their old books back.
Why the hell do we continue to pay for it? It’s simple: without the books, the student will fail the course. A student’s best bets for finding better deals on textbooks are to search the internet, try and purchase from friends who have already taken the course, or to visit bookstores that are off campus. Or just forget school and books altogether, because they’re filled with liberal agendas and lies.
One of the few ways liberal arts grads stay warm post graduation.