39 Dirty Business Tactics That You Definitely Didn’t Sign Up For

Ankita Goyal
13 min readFeb 12, 2019

“The business is dark and full of secrets…” — Game of Profits

Sure, we all know that business gets dirty sometimes but hey, diving deep into the grisly industry secrets? That’s something we didn’t do yet. Did you think you weren’t able to claim warranty on purpose? Or that you were ripped off at that bar? Or that something was fishy about your grocery store?

Well, today, we bring you some of the deepest industry secrets and dirty business tactics which you definitely didn’t sign up for. How? Thanks to Reddit, we can hear it from the people who worked in the industry themselves.

Worn-out warranties

“Former Best Buy employee here (in house technician, pre-Geek Squad).

They would have us do ANYTHING to void a warranty. Make shit up, spill water, cut a wire, anything at all. Quotes include things like, ‘Find something wrong, that guy is NOT walking out of here with a new computer.’”

Bottled water or tap water?

“If the water bottle doesn’t specifically say “Spring Water” then it is actually just tap water.

The big companies find the municipal water supplies in the US that have the ideal water conditions and pump it straight to the bottle with little or no processing (at a marginal cost of less than a penny per bottle).

Some name brands may do a little more, like having additives to give their water a consistent and specific taste profile. But the rest, especially those labeled as “drinking water” are straight from the tap somewhere.”

The tipsy trick

“Some restaurants will give you crappier beer/liquor if they are out of what you ordered and think they can get away with it. I bar-tended at a place that told me to use the house vodka instead of goose/belvedere for mixed drinks, their reasoning being that the customer wouldn’t notice. At the same place my boss once re-filled an empty bottle of our most expensive sauvignon blanc (~$300) with the cheap house stuff, put a dummy cork in it and then served it to a customer. The customer didn’t notice, but still pretty fucked up and totally shady.”

It’s not you, it’s us…

“In France, it’s hard to fire or lay off people, so when big companies need to clean house a bit, they move the office to a new location quite distant from the current one. In the process, they reduce the office size from 50,000 seats to 30,000 because they’ve estimated that the amount of people will resign rather than endure a 4 hours commute… But officially “totally you still have your job if you want, we are not laying you off, but I need you in the office everyday… Or you could resign if you don’t like the new location…”

Nestle did that and apparently, it’s fairly common now for multinationals around Paris.”

The party prank

“If you are having a party at a restaurant it is very common practice for the owners to put a lot of extra bottles of wine (or whatever people drank a lot of) on the bill. Usually, people stay over several hours and no one keeps track of everything so they just charge you extra a lot. Something to keep an eye on.”

Soup in a bowl or a cup?

“I waited tables in a restaurant and one time I decided to pour a cup of soup into an empty bowl (a bowl of soup costs a good bit more than a cup of soup at the restaurant). The cup filled up the bowl to the top.”

Check engine light

“If you’re buying a used car — or any car for that matter, the check engine light should temporarily come on when you start the vehicle. If it doesn’t, the dash has been tampered with to mask a potential issue.”

Currency exchange

“Always, always, always count every single note when exchanging currency.

It’s so easy for vendors (particularly smaller ones) to short bills from a stack of 100 or 1000 and claim innocence when (if) called out on it.”

The fake cacti

“At home depot and lowes there are cacti with plastic flowers glued on to them.”

And the fake detectives

“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.”

“Find it cheaper and get your money back!”

“Mattress stores that have the ‘find it anywhere else for cheaper, you get your money back!’ deal 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.”

“Buy here, pay here”

“Buying a car from a ‘buy here, pay here’ dealership. You put $500 or $1000 down they say you are approved and you drive the car home. Two days later the dealership calls and says that they couldn’t get you financed at that down payment and interest rate so we need an additional $2500 down and your interest rate doubles. If you don’t have the extra money they take the car and your original down payment. This is in AZ.”

“Closing down”

“The ‘closing down’ sale in the shop that never closes down. It’s just in closing down sale mode continuously. I’m amazed shops are allowed to get away with this.”


“Not sure if this fits, but if you are offered a raise for taking on new responsibilities, get it in writing. Just learned that the hard way.”

The wicked salary slip

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

The key to fake locksmiths

“A locksmith I knew would rekey locks using old, worn-down pins, which caused the locks to stop working prematurely- without the pins being crisp, eventually, the lock jams or the key quit working. He would then await the inevitable call to replace them, rekey them with good pins, and be good to go.

You could make an extra $65 a customer this way. We never did (I’m certified as a Master Locksmith, NLA, and ALOA) but we repaired a lot of locks this charlatan “fixed”. We complained to the NLA and ALOA and got his bond status revoked.

If you get a lock repaired and it doesn’t feel as crisp as a new zipper when you put in the key that first time, they may have pulled this trick.”

The buffet bureaucracy

“The higher priced items like prime rib and seafood is typically at the end of the buffet line and cheaper more filling options like bread and mashed potatoes are at the front. They hope you fill up your plate space/stomach space by the time you get to the high ticket items.”

The mowing conspiracy

“A local lawn maintenance business takes advantage of unsuspecting customers in 3 ways:

On monthly bills, they double the state tax (instead of being, say, 6%, it’ll actually be 12%, if you check the math).

Without discussing it with homeowners, they charge double for “double-cuts” when the grass is a little taller in areas than usual. So, if you had agreed to pay $50 per mowing, the monthly bill says $100 for each visit. They never ask — they just do it and charge double (in most cases, it’s just a small “patch” of the yard that has taller grass, not the entire thing).

They’re supposed to mow once per week. But without telling customers first, they start mowing every 5 days — which means they get to charge for more mowing visits per month than necessary.”

Just sayin’

“If you’re buying a used car and it’s parked over a puddle — they don’t want you to look underneath.”

Sale? Sale.

“Some stores increase the price of a product and then put it ‘on sale’ by a percentage of the fake higher price.”

The never-ending creditors

“When my grandmother was in the hospital, her landscaper and handyman both contacted me to tell me she hadn’t paid them and they’d been trying to reach her and on and on. I’d already paid both bills from her account and when I questioned them, they remembered real quick.”

Did somebody say ‘Vacayyy’?

“Rental companies, specifically for vacation. They will say a certain condo/house is available on their website, but then when you call, they’ll say it is now unavailable or just got booked very recently. Then they’ll try and show you a different place which is like $50 more a night, banking on the desperation of the tourists to just say ‘fuck it’ and rent it.”

The one with the sad mommies

“I worked for a company that sold items for babies and expecting mothers. They had a return and repair policy- seems OK at first but then as an employee you realise what you’re in fact doing is sending a £300 pushchair back to the manufacturer for 3–4 weeks. The wording was draconian- what people assumed was that they had 28 days to return their item, when in fact it meant that they could go up to 28 days without a pushchair.

They wouldn’t let us offer refunds while the original was being repaired, so we had devastated mums crying on the phone all the time, and they almost always ended up forking out another £300 for a new pushchair. It was a pretty fucking soul-destroying job and a really fucking dirty business practise- especially when the clientele was pregnant women.”

The tricky tag

“Made ‘from’ or ‘with’ 100% something…

Just because something is made with 100% of something doesn’t mean that the thing itself is 100% that thing.”

The mannequin maze

“When I worked at H&M we used to do some sneaky stuff with setting up the mannequins/displays. Whenever we had a supply of shirts that were really ugly, and weren’t selling well. We’d put the ugly item on the mannequin, and it would sell out very quickly.

This isn’t necessarily the dirtiest trick, but it worked pretty well for pushing really ugly clothes.”


“The ‘best-sellers’ book lists are not actually based on the number of books sold to consumers. They are based on the number of books sold by the distributor. So if someone like… Bill O’Reilly… wanted to claim he had the best selling book in America, his publisher could use a third-party clearinghouse to order a million copies of the book at a highly discounted rate (like, .50 cents a book). The clearing house can then turn around and sell those books to Books-a-Million, Barnes and Noble, etc. at a highly discounted rate, which is why you see certain authors… like Bill O’Reilly… always in the bargain bin. But even if nobody bought those books at the store level, the distributor can still report that 1 million copies of the book have been sold.”

Dirty donations?

“It’s not dirty as it’s legal but 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 one with the elderly

“Retirement homes. If you or your relative is in one of these facilities check the bill, line by line, every month. Because these people are old and they’re getting taken care of they often don’t care about the bills, or they’re stored in the facilities records and can be viewed ‘upon request’ so they don’t actually get sent out, and often require ‘auto-deposit’ from a bank account for their services.

We are currently dealing this with my grandmother who has memory issues, she’s being billed for all kinds of services she’s not receiving. At one point her single room apartment, which has two cable jacks, one on either side of the room, and she was being billed for two monthly cable packages. All sorts of restocking fees and other bullshit sneaks in there and when you’re paying ~$4600/mo in rent what’s a little more right?

It’s disgusting how much these places try to bilk the elderly out of money before they die.”

Amazon best-sellers

“Online shopping: Don’t trust product reviews and things like Amazon best sellers.

Companies have started to put a lot of marketing effort to get their products good reviews and on top of best-seller lists.”

Credit cards

“Offering people in debt credit cards with incredibly low initial interest rates for the first year and then raising the rate dramatically to keep them paying off new interest debt forever.”

Prize draws

“Some prize draws are not randomly picked. We choose you if we think you’re going to give us business. We do this to get around bribing you for your business, but in the end? Yeah, it’s a bribe.”

Cheerful charity chatter

“I worked in a data job at a charity call centre for 8 years, all those lovely charity calls you get giving you a sob story and then the big happy ending which was a result of your donations? Yeah they’re written by a creative team.

The charity sector is actually very ruthless.”

Hand cream or foot cream?

“One of my good friends had parents who owned a tube factory.

Hand cream and foot cream are literally the same thing in a different tube.”

The eggy secret

“In the egg industry, when male chicks are born, they’re put on a conveyor belt which sends them into a grinding machine where they’re turned into a pulp because they’re useless for egg production.”

Just pet things

“Pet stores will lie to convince you that their pets come from responsible breeders. They never do, a responsible breeder will always want to screen potential buyers themselves. They would NEVER trust a pet store to find a suitable home for their puppies.”

Where’d the pockets go?

“The women’s fashion industry eliminated most pockets from their clothing so women would be forced to buy their purses.”

Advisor or adviser?

“Not sure about the US/elsewhere but in Canada ‘Financial Adviser’ and ‘Financial Advisor’ mean two different things: spelled with an ‘E’ and they have a legal duty to act in the customers’ best interest, spelled with an ‘O’ and they don’t. Most banks employ a ton of advisors but not many advisers.”

Just grocery things

“Grocery stores that put items on sale for something like ‘Two for $4.’ 90% of the time you can purchase one item for $2 but they removed the original price tag and only left the sale tag in hopes that you will buy two of that item.”

Pricky prescriptions

“Someone I know had a $50 prescription every month. She talked to her doctor and was cleared to take it every other day, instead of every day to half the cost. She went in to pick up her prescription and was charged $100 for the exact same amount of pills because it was going to last her twice as long. Don’t let it happen to you.”

Originally published at www.mostlymoney.me on February 12, 2019.



Ankita Goyal

Just a happy-go-lucky gal with a lot of passion. Reads, writes, travels, clicks and paints!