11 Shady Business Tactics Everyone Should Be Aware Of

1) The Missing Check Engine Light At Car Dealerships

check engine light flicker at car dealerships

If you’re test-driving a car at a dealership pay attention to the check engine light when you turn the key: it should temporarily flicker then go away. If it doesn’t, the dash has been tampered with to mask a potential issue.

Also, if a dealership car is parked over a puddle they do not want you looking underneath it.

2) 0% APR For The First Year

0% APR scam

Many credit card companies lure new customers by offering 0% interest in the first year. People will often then transfer all of their existing credit card debt onto the new account. What’s not conveyed in these promotions though is the steep penalties if you miss a monthly payment. 0% interest or not, these penalties can range from 25-40%.

Pay close attention to billing dates. These companies can sometimes forget to mail you your first month’s bill.


3) “Topping Up” Your Air Conditioning

topping off air conditioning scamOften times HVAC repairmen will offer an additional service of “topping up” your air conditioning unit. Refrigeration systems are hermetically sealed. If it’s low it has a leak, that leak must be fixed. Topping up isn’t a real thing. So if a repairman offers this service kindly ask them to simply repair the existing leak and move on.

4) Mattress Stores Price Match Offer

mattress store price match scam

We’ve all seen the tagline, “find it anywhere else for cheaper, you get your money back!”. What really happens is the mattress store has an agreement with the manufacturer to make the exact same model of bed, but with a model name specific to that store, so nobody can ever cash in on that deal.

5) The Three-Tiered Pricing Approach

3 tier pricing scam

The contractor starts with a ridiculously high priced quote for way more stuff than you asked for, steps down to a more moderate quote of what you wanted with a few bells and whistles, then the third quote is for what you requested.

This gives you the illusion of choice and reduces sticker shock because although your requested “absolute minimum” service is really expensive, it’s only half the cost of their recommended repairs!

Here’s a great video explaining the whole process.

6) IT Vendors “Going Dark”

it vendor missing to drum up business

I’ve personally hired IT/development companies who mysteriously went missing when important things needed to get done. This often came after a contract dispute or when I raised questions about the level of service I was paying for. The idea here is that you’re eventually forced to use them in order to solve your problem.

When hiring IT vendors it’s important to negotiate hard when laying out what the deliverables are going to be. Often times companies are tied to their vendors because only they know the system in which they were originally paid to setup.

7) Landlords and Security Deposits

apartment walthrough pictures and video

Depending on your credit score, most landlords/leasing companies will require a security deposit be paid in full before you move in. In most cases this is non-negotiable and is usually the cost equivalent of a full month’s rent.

It’s important to take pictures/video of the property before and after you move in. If the landlord tries withholding your security deposit, citing damages that you didn’t cause then you can take them to court and legally use the footage you took of the property to get your money back.

8) Service Industry Minimum Wages

service industry minimum wage scam

If you’re looking for a job waiting tables make sure to ask specific wage-related questions during the interview process. In many states if a waitress is making more than minimum wage the restaurant can legally require her to turn over all her tips.

Do the math, what yields higher paychecks: $8/hr flat rate or $3.50/hr with an average of $10 per hour in tips.

9) Corporate Pharmacies

corporate pharmecies are a scam

Chain pharmacies are profitable because they overcharge for prescription drugs. People who don’t have health insurance are the ones who suffer the most from these jacked-up prices.

Most consumers will find that mom & pop pharmacies have much fairer prices than the giant corporate chains.


10) Ugly Clothes On Store Mannequins

store mannequins ugly clothesWhen clothing stores want to get rid of unpopular clothing items they’ll often put them on store mannequins to make them look more appealing. If you’re looking to get a new shirt go to the section where they’re either on the rack or folded at a table.

11) Stores Asking For Donations At The Register

grocery stores donations for tax writeoffs

Next time a grocery store clerk asks you to donate money for worldwide hunger or childhood obesity at the checkout counter SAY NO! Or tell them to ask the CEO to donate party of their yearly salaries to help the cause.

Stores use these donations purely as tax writeoffs and PR purposes.

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