7 WTF Ways Famous Companies Rip You Off Every Day

There's a righteous, almost smug satisfaction to buying something cheap. It feels like we're sticking it to the big companies by denying them those extra ten cents per unit on a box of Kit Kats. However, no one loves a bargain more than the businesses themselves. That usually takes the form of tax evasion and poor wages, but sometimes they like to get ... creative.

Here are the most impressively petty ways companies go the extra mile to save a buck or two:


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7
Restaurants Make Glasses Thicker To Give You Less Beer

TiBine/Pixabay

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Like a good drunk, your local restaurant believes that as little alcohol as possible should go to waste. Unfortunately, their definition of "going to waste" includes letting you drink it. Over the years, the price of alcohol (especially alcohol served in restaurants and bars) has climbed faster and faster -- while the size of the glass it's served in has gotten smaller and smaller.

Paul Vasarhelyi/iStock
The fact that there's a stock photo for this specific type of article should tell you how serious this problem is.

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The thing is, you might not even realize the glasses are getting smaller, because businesses use every trick in the book to make them look and feel the same as always. Not only do bars and restaurants swap 14-ounce glasses for 16-ounce glasses while charging you more for the beer, but those glasses are often topped off with more foam and have thicker bottoms to ensure maximum cheapassness. You're receiving less than the 16 ounces you ordered, and a good percentage of that wasn't even drinkable (unless you like drinking solid glass).

The Wall Street Journal
"The 14-ounce one is just very insecure about its height, that's all."

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Is that even legal? Eh, not really, but no one cares. In 2013, Michigan legislators proposed a law to force anyone selling pints of beer to actually give you a pint of beer -- only to find out that this brand of bullshit is, technically, already forbidden by consumer protection laws. You know, the ones no one can be bothered to enforce. The same thing happened in other states, like Maine, where the governor actually vetoed an "Honest Pint" bill and called on pissed-off beer enthusiasts to simply not support the establishments that shortchange you.

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Speaking of piss, the rise of craft beers has only given these scam artists justification for their shady practices. Establishments are now claiming that the smaller-sized glassware allows for pretentiously better "aroma and head retention." Even if that's true, you're still shelling out more for less, and bars absolutely know this -- they just expect you to be too vain to say anything. The general line of thinking is that if you're going to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a drink, you're going to feel better about it if the glass is fancy. After all, feeling superior is almost as intoxicating as getting drunk.

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6
Makers of Cheap Ice Cream Charge You Extra For A Whole Bunch Of Air

Mariamichelle/Pixabay

We're so used to stomping our feet and shaking our heads at the potato chip companies for charging us for half a bag of air that we don't realize there's a worse offender: ice cream. Like with chips, ice cream legitimately requires air to function properly -- if Ben & Jerry's sold us just the good parts (ice, milk, cream, sugar), we'd get one big ball of teeth-wrecking ice. A blast of air keeps the product soft and lickable, which is kind of the entire point of ice cream (unless you eat it with a fork, like a monster).

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And also like chips, the companies abuse the shit out of this necessity.

Specialized Equip


Serious Eats
That's right: The ice cream industry has fluffers.

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Top-notch ice cream only requires 25 percent of its makeup to be air. This allows the ice cream to remain soft and fluffy while providing the maximum amount of all the other delicious ingredients. However, by law, the amount of extra air added to the ice cream mix (aka overrun) is 100 percent. This means that each gallon of ice cream mix produces two full gallons of finished ice cream, and companies are literally doubling their output simply by pumping free air into the mix. You're paying for, eating, and getting horrible headaches from half a gallon of nothing.

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It gets worse. To cut even more on costs, some companies have started going past the 100 percent overrun limit and getting around it by calling their product "frozen dairy dessert." They package it like ice cream, make it look like ice cream, and trick your mom into buying it thinking it's definitely ice cream, but legally, it's not. It's just a box full of cold, miserable lies.

Mouse Print
We never believed in true evil until this moment.

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5
Think Your Movie Looks Too Dark? The Theater Probably Didn't Bother Changing The Lens

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A lot of people are of the opinion that movies are too dark these days, and we don't mean just in the "Superman now murders people" sense. While some of this is the studios' doing, there's another reason why you might think that movies look dimmer and less colorful than before: The fact that they actually do, courtesy of your local theater's cheapness.

Jovo Marjanovic/iStock
"You gotta see it in 3D. The way that black blur goes over that other black blur is amazing."

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As you might have noticed, tickets for 3D movies will fuck up your wallet considerably more than tickets for 2D ones. Naturally, theaters have a lot to gain from this, but the cost of switching between the 2D and 3D lenses eats into those profits and takes up an exorbitant amount of time. To combat this, many theaters simply ... don't switch them. This probably doesn't sound like a very big deal, but it is. Here's a handy graphic explaining it in detail:

David Butler/The Boston Globe

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Basically, the purpose of a 3D lens is to rapidly switch between two polarizing images, allowing for the 3D effect. When the lens is left in place during a standard 2D film, this crazy polarization dampens and darkens the film by as much as 85 percent. This also makes the projector's lightbulb degrade faster and turn dimmer, since it's working extra to overcome the dark lens. And that's partially why so many new films appear so grim: All the light is literally being sucked out of them by lazy, greedy jerks.

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If you wanna make sure that the next movie you take your date to is dark enough to smooch but not so dark that you can't even find their face, here are some pointers.

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4
Starbucks Tells Baristas To Underfill Your Lattes

Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

Just like their hops-and-barley counterparts, coffee shops, particularly Starbucks, have cottoned on a way to trick customers into paying more for less. Only instead of downsizing the size of the cups, they just get reeeaaal tricky about how they tell employees to fill them.

Starbucks
That is, pretentiously.

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After being accused of underfilling their lattes by about 25 percent of the advertised ounces, Starbucks came forward to say that their cups are indeed capable of holding the amount of coffee paid for ... provided the cups are filled to the ever-loving brim. Which, of course, they never do. The underfilling was all but guaranteed by a switch to new milk pitchers that came with shiny "fill to" lines that were lower than they should have been, forcing baristas to scam customers whether they realized it or not.

On top of that, the baristas were instructed to leave a quarter-inch of empty, coffee-less space in each cup -- that's like an extra 15 minutes of morning alertness you're robbing from us, dammit.

Starbucks
"And don't forget: Ensure an authentic Starbucks experience by totally butchering their name."

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The accusers took Starbucks to court over this deception, prompting the company to defend their policy with a slew of ridiculous arguments. According to Starbucks, a "reasonable consumer" would not have an issue with this practice, since they would assume the ounce size included the foam. Apparently, this "reasonable consumer" is an alien from planet I-Love-Foam-And-Don't-Mind-Getting-Ripped-Off. The court disagreed with this assertion, because unfortunately for Starbucks, it was made out of regular human beings who use earthly logic.

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3
Netflix Messes With Its Own Mobile Apps So You Don't Stop Watching

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The upside of Netflix is that they don't make you sit through boring advertisements or watch around obnoxious banner ads to see the reanimated corpse of your favorite childhood series stumble its way through a reunion special -- they make money through subscription fees. As long as you're willing to pay up for their service, they're in business.

The downside? They'll occasionally tank that service just to keep you on the hook.

Netflix
Still more fun than watching "funny" insurance ads.

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You would think the average household's 5.2 internet-connected devices would ensure the streaming company would never run out of business, but Netflix is still worried that you'll dump it for some bimbo, like Facebook or Instagram. Fearing that your excessive smartphoning combined with mobile data caps will make you abort that Friends binge-watch, Netflix voluntarily throttles the speed of their own mobile apps. Why? Because shittier streaming means you're using up less data, which means you don't go over your limit. The company figures it's better to keep you watching longer at a lower quality than to see you put your phone down until payday.

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Netflix kept this practice hush-hush until accusations were slung at cellphone companies, blaming them for the slower speeds. For once, they were innocent: Netflix admitted that they had been surreptitiously throttling their own streaming speeds for the past five years. So, no, you're not the only one still on Season 1 of Orange Is The New Black because most of your poop-time streaming is spent on the loading screen.

Netflix
We just got to the part where she goes to jail (spoilers!).

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2
Mystery-Flavored Dum Dums Are The Candy Equivalent Of Pig Slop

Steve Snodgrass/Wiki Commons

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Mystery candy flavors are an exciting proposition for children. No youngster can resist the thrill of pulling off the wrapper and confidently proclaiming "It's cherry!" before devolving into a massive fistfight with their neighbor, who thought it tasted like butterscotch. That stupid fuck.

Ewzzy/Tumblr
"Hmm, it tastes like banana split, with a hint of your-dad-left-because-he-hates-you-Timmy."

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Turns out that both kids can be right. Mystery-flavored Dum Dums are just an amalgam of two different flavors -- which would be fine by us if that were the intent. We can just picture it: Two candymen in lab coats mixing and matching flavors, searching for the perfect lollipop combination. Unfortunately, the truth is less Willy Wonka fun and more Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (Tim Burton version) nastiness.

Rather than shutting down their massive candy-making machines and cleaning them out each time a new flavor is made, the Spangler Candy Company just keeps on pumping out suckers, one batch after another. We know what you're thinking: "Won't the flavors get mixed that way? And also, gross." Yes, and yes.

Dum Dums
Walter White would not stand for this.

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When one flavor ends and the next begins, the two inevitably become mixed together during the process. The point of keeping up production like this is to save money, so naturally Spangler isn't just going to throw out these Frankensteined pops. Instead, they put question marks all over them like a bunch of maniacal supervillains and send them out into the unsuspecting world.

Yes, everything is terrible and there's no magic in this world. And on that note ...

1
Disney World's American Flags Have The Wrong Amount Of Stars (To Save Money)

Walt Disney Resorts

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From the intricate Easter eggs hidden all around to the painstaking steps taken to ensure the ultimate illusion of a cartoon reality, Disney spares no expense in making their parks as magical as possible. The thing about "sparing no expense," though, is that it's super goddamn expensive. So, naturally, Disney cuts a few corners. Corners like faking patriotism to save a few bucks.

Ever noticed the bajillion American flags decorating Disney World's Main Street USA? No, you haven't: They aren't technically American flags. Spot the difference:

WDW Secrets

Hidden Mickeys Guide
If you didn't immediately feel repulsed upon seeing these pictures, you're a bad American.

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Yep, while the main flag located smack dab in the middle of Main Street's square is the real deal, the rest of Disney's flags contain fewer than 50 stars. This isn't shoddy math on Disney's part, or evidence that they're megalomaniacal Nazis, despite what conspiracy theorists would have us believe -- it's an intentional choice designed to save time and money.

You see, the official customs for displaying an American flag include a bunch of rules to ensure maximum care and respect. For instance, American flags must be taken down in inclement weather and prominently lit at night. Disney can't be arsed to do that with all of its flags, so they found a loophole. By putting fewer stars on them, they're making it so they're not really American flags and don't need to be treated as such. They're flags from some strange parallel world where Canada invaded the north, or Florida finally floated off, or something like that.

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Another side effect of the fauxmerican flags is that they don't have to fly at half mast during special occasions (only the main flag does). For instance, here's Disney World after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died:

Brandon Glover/Touring Plans
Though we like to think the flags are simply staging a Kaepernick-esque protest.

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So if you've ever visited Disney and saluted one of these fake flags, we're sorry, but you're a traitor to the nation, and the feds will come to deport you any second now. Bye.

Follow Carolyn on Twitter, it's free.

For more ways money is slipping from your wallet, check out 6 Subtle Ways You're Getting Screwed At The Grocery Store and 5 Ways Stores Use Science to Trick You Into Buying Crap.

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Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.

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