If You Buy Into This, You’re Being Ripped Off

Ripoffs in plain sight

8 min readSep 18, 2022


Photo by Simon Hurry on Unsplash

The biggest ripoffs in America aren't committed by sleazy businessmen but are conducted virtually imperceptibly so that most people aren’t even aware. Let’s take a look.

Member Cards

At some point, it seems every store started issuing a member card. At first most of them came with some benefit or discount, but increasingly more, these cards don't offer anything, and can even hurt you in the long run.

When you scan member cards at the grocery store, pet store, or oil change place, they are collecting free data. They use this data to understand you more as a consumer: How you spend, how often you spend, what you are willing to pay, etc. This helps them in the future to get you to spend more on the same stuff.

Sometimes there is a discount or you don't have a choice like at Costco, where the member card is a mandatory part of the purchase. Even if you fancy yourself as a savvy shopper or are not a huge privacy advocate, people haven’t been asking themselves enough if their data is worth the $2 they might be saving today. It’s an important question to contemplate in an increasingly data-driven world where you are the prey and guinea pig.

Photo by John Arano on Unsplash


If you use your gym regularly and feel good about it, great. But the business model for gyms is built around betting and even hoping, you will not go. The only way a gym can make money is predicated upon the fact that most people sign up but don't go. If everyone were to suddenly go, they would not be able to accommodate. Any decent-sized gym will have at least 5,000–10,000 members, and they might have space for 200–300 tops at any given time.

I am not saying you should not sign up for a gym but I do think people should think more deeply when signing up. There’s a lot of idealism, promises, and romancing when getting you to sign up, but once you do, you’re just another number that constitutes the base they need to operate profitably. Gyms do sell access to gym equipment, but they…