Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Growing up, I had a severe aversion to being taken advantage of - I'm not sure where this came from except that I was extremely nice and there were people who were not nice. These days I'm wiser, and am glad to spot a scam so I don't get in a shituation. The most blatant scams would be emails from South Africa asking to wire money, publishing clearing houses, and vans with Free Candy on the side.

Photo credit:

There is a subtler level of scams though, and these are most interesting, because they are disguised as legit transactions. Of course, I define a scam as someone paying significantly more for something thats not worth the money. Here we go:
Latex balloons. I was going to send balloons instead of Get Well flowers because I wasn't sure about the recipient's allergies. Also, conceivably balloons would be cheaper than flowers - since that's how it is in the store. Both convey the same message, and I wouldn't have to commit to something like $60 worth of mums. Online, I found a pack of six balloons (3 mylar and 3 latex) for $60. What's more is that the site listed how long the balloons would last. I consider latex balloons filled with helium that lasts less than 10 hours (that costs $10/each) to be a real scam. Needless to say, flowers were sent, as it takes work to plant and grow flowers.

Designer sandals. Designer anything has a markup, but sandals take the cake because of lack of materials and coverage. There's also no guarantee that they'll feel good, and shoes especially need to be comfortable.

Pizza. Just how much does it take to pair dough with cheap tomato sauce? Don't get me wrong, it tastes delicious, no matter how fake the ingredients are. For some reason, college pizza places can sell their pizza for $5 a pie, so besides the extra helping of grease that requires two rounds with the toothbrush, what is the difference?

Photo credit:

Anything "wedding". Even things like white prom dresses are more expensive than other colors. Jerks.

The local wine tasting event. If you like wine tasting, then the annual event at Bull Run in Chantilly has something like 100 vendors. They sell things like wine-glass lanyards, in case you can't be bothered to hold your own glass. The local wine event however, has less than 10 vendors, which means you have to walk the length of a parking lot (in the sun) to get to the next vendor. There are no frivolities like free cracker samples, much less necklaces that house your alcoholic beverage. In summary, I think the event was cheap, but there was not enough samples to justify the price.

Finally, plain popped popcorn. There was a time frame when we received a giant tub of popcorn for the holidays. Out of the three types, the caramel and the cheese were gone in a matter of days. The regular popcorn? Well it just doesn't make sense to eat cold popcorn when you can whip up a fresh batch in less than five minutes. And the fresh popcorn smell permeates so much better! The verdict? Don't waste your calories.
Photo credit:

So what's the worst scam? I know if the recession really takes hold then I'll go into balloons myself...