The Fayette Citizen-Opinion Page
Wednesday, September 16, 1998
Rip time

Laugh Lines

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Rip-offs, scams, swindles and cons. We think we are above such seemingly moron-involving crimes. Think again. Our day-to-day existence is nothing more than a series of stings by those we trust the most.

Thus, in service to my fellow man, I am starting this new, recurring column where we can share personal experiences of our frustrations with the systems around us that are doing the hustle.

For future columns, e-mail your experiences to me at For this inaugural issue I am going to list some of my personal experiences and frustrations from how I think we get ripped off. The only area off limits is movie concession stand prices (See below).

One of the first situations that perplexes me is your typical hospital stay. It is too easy to complain about the general, ridiculous expenses but there is one thing that does not make sense. How is it they can charge us close to a thousand dollars a day, yet they can't add an extra 10 bucks to the process and serve some food worth eating? Even if you were to add the expense of employing the most expensive caterers for every meal you eat, it would be no more than 1 percent of what you are paying anyway? This is the one expense that everyone one of us would not complain about paying top dollar for, yet we still eat mush.

How about the free offers we continually get? But when you send off for the stuff it costs you $4.95 for shipping and handling. And all of a sudden you get every piece of junk mail known to man. The whole "free" special was just to get you added to some mass mailing list that is sold to every company that markets in the free world.

A big peeve of mine locally is the water company. They will cut your water off at the drop of the hat. I don't see a problem with this as they should be paid for their services, yet after you go down and pay your water bill, it's back on before you get home. Where is this guy in the truck who is turning your water off and on? And when he came out to turn off your water, why couldn't he have just come to your door and asked for the check? Heck, charge me the reactivation fee or whatever, but why make me drive all the way to Fayetteville and back when you have a guy sitting in a truck somewhere under a shade tree, some 100 yards from my house. Well I am sure this is the way it is done, that is, if it might have happened to me, which it didn't.

As mentioned above, movie concession stand prices are off limits because anybody who hasn't figured out how to sneak food into a theater deserves to pay full price. I do have to give special recognition to the theater management systems of America though for their brilliant tactics surrounding what is known as the "For just a quarter more" sales pitch.

Before closing, some Rip-off honorable mentions go out to: Music CD prices for being nearly twice as much as cassette tapes even though they are 1/2 the price to produce. McDonalds for all those great toys they put in their Happy Meals and to the approximately 100 customers who actually get the toys before they run out. Any company that gives coupons for 5 percent off saving us the difference comparable to sales tax. Any "Special" segment our local news stations incessantly advertise and we wait up to watch. Celine Dion or James Cameron's humility.

Remember to e-mail me your "rip-off" stories and please don't list my writing among them.

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