We all know that businesses can be shady. Hopefully you’re not taken for a fool, but sure enough, our ignorance is their bliss. We usually don’t know how to fix our air conditioning unit, we tend to take people’s word for whatever we are looking up, and we definitely overpay for internet.

Now that we know our truths, let’s discuss some of the dirty business tactics and scams people use to take advantage of us, and then let us learn how to stop them.

Restaurants (And Their Soup Portions)

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, craved some soup, and then had to choose between the cup size or the bowl size? You have to think of the main deciding factors: how hungry you are and how different the prices are. Well, we are here to tell you that your decision may have just gotten easier.

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You see, there are a lot of restaurants scamming us on our soups by charging us an extra couple dollars to get the bowl of soup instead the cup, when in reality, they're the same size. It’s all due to an illusion about what the dishware looks like. Plus, notice that many restaurants fill the cup to the brim but in a bowl they’ll leave a little space so it doesn’t spill. Now this is isn’t every place of course, but it happens often enough that people are writing about it.

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A user at The Straight Dope forums by the name of Justin Sexton wrote about his cup and bowl experiences: “I've experienced this in a small diner on the Oregon Coast. I ordered a bowl of clam chowder. My wife ordered the cup as a side dish. My bowl was wide and flat, and her cup was like a coffee cup, but slightly larger. We finished at the same time, and started comparing dish size. We determined that they held roughly the same amount of food. Yes, we got a refund. No, we never went back. Yes, it's now out of business.”

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Next time, if you're curious, measure for yourself by filling the empty soup cup with water and then pouring it into an empty soup bowl to see the liquid displacement. If they're the same, call over a manager and get that discount.

Internet

Oy. Where do we begin with the criminality of internet companies? Personally, I outright quit as much as I could. I don’t have cable and I only use streaming services; for internet, I bought my own modem and router combination on Amazon for $80 instead paying a monthly rental fee. Now I only pay for the internet being provided and everything else is up to me. But I still am charged $44 every month. That means I am paying $528 a year for this company to allow me to use the internet. What do you pay?

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Enough about me and my frustration—because it turns out I'm not alone. Time Warner Cable, one of the leaders in internet and cable, is being sued by the state of New York. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit against Time Warner Cable, which now operates as Spectrum, which accuses the company of lying to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and their customers. The suit alleges that TWC “systematically and knowingly failed to deliver the reliable and fast internet access it promised to subscribers across the state” and seeks to compensate all New York State TWC customers for having to deal with the company.

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The lawsuit says that TWC has been charging customers for up to 300 mbps (megabytes per second download speeds) but averaging far less, roughly around 60-80. As for some more staggering numbers, TWC was renting out their modems but the devices weren’t even capable of handling the speeds they promised, hence the average of 60-80 mbpsJoel Hruska at ExtremeTech pointed out that TWC sold this impossible-to-deliver high-speed internet to 900,000 people around New York at $10 per month. That comes out to $108 million a year. On top of that, 250,000 of those people were paying to rent modems that couldn’t handle the promised speed anyway.

Feeling a little nervous about your internet company after all this? Check your internet speed here; if it’s not what you’re paying for, good luck.

HVAC

HVAC stands from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The tricky thing here is that if you’re anything like the rest of us, you don’t know much about refrigerators, heaters, or air conditioners, whether they're in your home or car.

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Therefore, we have some tips to help you next time you might need something fixed or replaced and have to call someone in the HVAC world. Climate Inc. has a list of the five most common scams with HVAC repairs:

“Your system is old.”

Most HVAC systems today (and from the last 10 years) are built with such technology that they should last almost 20 years. 

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If you have a system that is younger than that, get a second opinion.

“We need to replace five different parts.”

HVAC systems are usually like puzzles. If one piece doesn’t fit, then it prevents the entire system from operating fully. They should be able to tell you what exactly happened in the chain of events and what needs to be fixed.

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They should be able to tell you what exactly happened in the chain of events and what needs to be fixed.

"Your unit is leaking carbon monoxide."

Now that is a scary thing to hear, but if that was the case, your CO2 alarm would probably go off. And if you don't have one of those, by the way, get one. No scam there.

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There is no way to smell or see if the unit is leaking CO2; they have to run a test with a special device, so unless you see that happening, it may be scam for false repairs.

“He just needs to top off your refrigerant.”

If you need refrigerant topped off, that means there is a leak. Get the leak fixed, otherwise, you’ll have to pay to get it topped off every year, which is both expensive for you and horrible for the environment.

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Get the leak fixed, otherwise, you’ll have to pay to get it topped off every year, which is both expensive for you and horrible for the environment.

“You need a larger system.”

Climate Inc. says, “When purchasing a system, a 'load' should be run on the house accounting for the amount of insulation, windows, doors, sun exposure, and number of people in the home to determine the correct size unit for the space.”

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Bigger is not always better and could actually do less cooling for your home.

Retirement Homes and Daycare

Funny enough, the two can go hand-in-hand as if Benjamin Button himself was going on a tour. What isn’t funny is paying a lot of money for a place that can become a scam for your loved ones. This is a great practice for any place you’ll be spending a lot of time in—particularly your more vulnerable loved ones.

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Make an appointment but then show up an hour early. Say you got the time mixed up but ask if it’s okay to walk around now since you’re already there. That way you’ll get the actual sense of what it is like instead of a planned performance for a grand tour.

Some helpful tips come from a Reddit thread where users say you should talk to the nurses in a living facility for a truthful answer, instead of the people on the business side. And to really know what you’re getting into, call the local fire department or hospital to see what the EMTs say. They are the ones getting called the most in an emergency and can tell you how the place treats the residents.

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