25 Dirty Tactics Businesses Use on Customers


Nowadays businesses barely care about the customer. All they care about is profit and keeping the shareholders happy. To make sure they achieve these goals, they can employ some pretty dirty tactics to lure in customers. Here are 25 such Dirty Tactics Bussiness use on customers that you as a consumer should be aware of.

01. 0% APR Credit Cards

Many credit cards companies try to lure customers to them by offering 0% APR for the first year (looking at you Discover card). People jump at this amazing offer and transfer all their debt onto their new Credit Card, and then the company would “conveniently” not send the first month’s bill.

In the fine print of the agreement, it states that if you miss even one payment in that first year, your APR will jump up significantly (sometimes up to 30%). When you call up the customer support team, they will give a canned response that it is the customer’s job to know when the bill is due, and sending the bill is just a courtesy extended by the company.

2. Many mattress stores have the “find it anywhere else for cheaper, you get your money back!” deal. What they actually do is have a contract 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.

Best Buy does this as well to avoid price matching. You’ll notice a -b or something at the end of the product number, which makes it a “different” product.

3. “Every month” and “Every 4 weeks” sound similar, but are different. Paying every month gets you 12 payments, every 4 weeks gets you 13.

4. Over the past few years, wireless commercials are including younger and younger children into their ads, subtly sending a message to parents that it is normal for an 8-year-old child to have a smartphone.

5. Debt collectors will have “detectives” call you from a number that appears to be a legitimate law enforcement agency when you Google it. It’s actually a spoofed caller ID using a legitimate agency’s fax number. The “detective” will threaten arrest and throw around names of local judges. The debt collector will claim to not know the “detective” who left the message but will be willing to take care of your debt.

It’s illegal, but it’s very hard to prove and that’s why they do it. Law enforcement or courts will only call you in the case of theft (like a hot check) but will never call for an old debt. It’s civil and they don’t have jurisdiction.


06. Charity Box at Stores

There is a reason that stores ask you to donate some amount to a charity or fund. They can use your donation to help them get a tax write off.

The majority of those $2 donations at the grocery store goes towards the store and administration fees. It’s a cash grab. But there are exceptions, some stores do genuinely donate all of it to charity. So do your research before donating.

7. Double check the ingredients list when buying Whole Wheat Bread. If the bleached flour is listed at all, put it back. Sara-Lee is notorious for this. They use molasses to make bread darker.

Always check for fiber content too. Whole grain means nothing if there’s no fiber in it. Also, be aware that bread with “extra fiber” usually has chicory root or other not-normally-part-of-bread ingredients added to give you the extra fiber. It’s well known to help you produce a high amount of gas.

8. Many companies claim to be environmentally friendly by putting made up certifications on their products. Like a frog in a circle that says “rainforest-friendly.” There are very few legitimate environmental certifications. ‘Rainforest Alliance’ is a legitimate certification agency, but most of the times, companies use a similar symbol that looks almost the same but holds no meaning. It’s called “greenwashing.”

9. “All natural” vs “ever ever” beef. All natural just means they didn’t give the cows any hormones or antibiotics for the last 30 days of its life because it’s legally considered to be out of the animal’s system, however, this doesn’t do anything to combat hormones in waste runoff or antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Never ever beef means that they have never given the animal hormones or antibiotics from birth to death.

10. More and more fermium mobile video games are literally designed to be frustrating instead of fun. A great many mobile titles make use of mechanics that are put together with the intention of nurturing habitual behavior, frustrating a user, and then offering a slightly more enjoyable experience after money has been spent. This tactic has proven to be a more profitable model than actually offering entertainment, to the point where some companies take very careful steps to ensure that their games don’t accidentally end up being fun.

Midway games at carnivals or fairs purposely let people win early on in the day. This way people carry around the prizes and advertise them for the rest of the day.


11. Fake red snapper

The red snapper you are buying at your retail market or restaurant could be any number of different fishes but it’ll be sold as snapper regardless. Name changing is pretty common since few people can tell the difference between the different species.

You are likely to get a better deal buying direct and making a meal at home. You know you are getting what you pay for because, by law, wholesalers have to have their paperwork in order to sell their product. If you live in an area with access to fresh seasonal seafood, buy it wholesale or direct from the docks.

12. Jacking google business pages. Basically, if a Google business listing isn’t claimed and controlled by a company, a competing company can weasel their way in and direct people to their business by, changing the phone number.

There was a scandal recently about how drug counselors in the Philadelphia area had it happen to them. Their listing phone number was changed to an 800 number, which directed callers to an inpatient rehab facility in Florida. It was discovered when one of these counselors started noticing his patients suddenly not showing up. He called one of them and found out he was at this facility in Florida.

13. A false sense of urgency. There are two ways this presents itself, either the product is presented as to have a very limited stock, thus the customer must choose to have the product now or never. The other is when the product is part of a “limited time offer,” again pushing the now or never decision. If the customer walks out the door/changes webpages/whatever equivalent, they might notice that they don’t actually need the product to continue on with their lives, so the marketing tries to make the consumer feel like they’ll miss out on a great opportunity if they don’t buy now.

14. Breast Cancer awareness products. You would think that all of those products that are plastered in pink would have to give money to cancer research. Well if it says “breast cancer awareness” they actually don’t have to. They are just raising awareness, but don’t actually have to help cancer patients or help with cancer research. They intentionally mislead customers.

15. You don’t under any circumstances need to buy additional roadside assistance or premium roadside assistance for rental cars. Essentially, every new car comes with 5 years of free roadside assistance from the manufacturer. As long as you aren’t off-roading, just give the manufacturer’s RSA hotline the VIN and mileage and you are good to go. Rental companies will insist on a lot of insurance add-ons which really aren’t necessary.


16. Art Factories

It’s not uncommon for assistants and apprentices to make the art of really famous, well known, expensive artists. The artist might be very involved in the process or barely involved. They can have studios with dozens of assistants churning out all of “their” work, and then just sign their name to it. We’re not just talking about, sculptures or art installations where assistants might be doing the grunt work. Even paintings could be barely-touched by the actual artist. People like Damien Hirst have been doing this forever. He literally has an art factory where his apprentices make art.

This is true in other mediums, too. Jim Davis has not drawn a “Garfield” cartoon in years. He has a staff that does the cartoons and he just “approves” them. Also, some pop-fiction authors–the ones who put out a book or two every year-often have staff write their books. They will just write an outline and notes for each chapter.

17. Carnival games. It is hard to pop a balloon with a dart at a carnival to win a prize. The balloon is underinflated and the tip of the dart is dull, so it just bounces off. It’s hard to get a basketball into the hoop at the carnival to win a prize. The ball is super inflated so it is hard and it easily bounces. The hoop is smaller than a regular hoop. You have to shoot high and let it come down straight through the hoop.

The largest stuffed animal you could possibly win at a carnival costs them approximately 7-10 dollars. You will spend over $100 working your way up to the big prize. The small prizes you win in the beginning costs them pennies (5 times less than the quarter you spent).

18. Whenever some singer or band “magically” blows up on SoundCloud or YouTube, it’s not authentic. A label will sign the artist in secret, and then suddenly boost their viewership tremendously to make it look like the independent artist did it on their own.

19. The fresh chocolate chip cookie scent that can be smelled outside of the Magic Kingdom bakery in Disneyland is artificial. It’s piped out there to draw you into the bakery. They’re called “Smellitzers”. They’re like targeted scent cannons. Disney also cranks the A/C up in the shops in the wintertime, so it feels colder than it actually is to boost the sales of Mickey sweatshirts.

20. On another Disney related note, the reason they have reddish sidewalks is to tire the red portion of your red-green photoreceptors in the eyes. When this happens, when you focus on something that’s not red, you have a greenish after image. This makes people think Disney’s grass is greener than it is.


21. Cheap Magic Erasers

Clean “Magic Erasers” are just Melamine Sponges in a fancy box with a fancy label. They retail for about a dollar a sponge. You can get a 100 pack on eBay for $4.99 with free shipping.

22. You use way too much shampoo/toothpaste. This is programmed into you by watching the ads where people use a gigantic glob on their brush or a hugely liberal handful of shampoo. They just train people to waste their products so that you have to buy it more frequently.

23. A lot of people probably know that when a TV show goes into syndication that some scenes will be cut from episodes to make them slightly shorter, to fit in more commercials. What people don’t know is that the show can be slightly sped up as well, to squeeze in just a little more advertising.

It’s typically 5% cut and 7.5% speedup for an overall 12.5% shorter episode. That’s around 2m37s for a sitcom and 5m15s for a drama of extra commercials. Commercial breaks were shorter in the past so it’s worse for older shows. For example, a modern sitcom is 21 minutes on the premiere, MASH was 25 minutes. So you wind up with 1m15s per episode deleted and then the speedup. Some speedups are only 5% but some are as high as 9%.

24. Your flight most probably didn’t get canceled due to weather. There’s an equal chance it got canceled because of maintenance issues, staffing, or scheduling problems. If there’s a cloud in the sky at either airport they will just code it as a weather cancellation so the airline doesn’t have to buy you a hotel room/meal vouchers.

25. The USA famous brand MyPillow and its “official pillow of the national sleep foundation” mean nothing since the owner created the group.

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