8 Products and Services That Are a Huge Rip-Off in the US

Money being washed down garbade disposal

Bill Oxford/istockphoto

Highway Robbery

While we all welcome the news that prices continue to cool after months of runaway inflation, the fact remains that this country is still too damn expensive. I mean, $7,500 to treat a broken leg? That’s extortion. And as Redditors recently pointed out in an r/AskReddit thread, there are a lot more products and services that should qualify as “robbery.” Here are the most popular entries from that thread — plus a few ideas to keep your costs down.



Medical Bills

We said it once, and we’re going to say it again: Medical bills in the US are outrageous. Like, $629 for an outrageous Band-Aid. Not only are these insane charges unheard of in peer countries like Germany, France and Japan, but insurance is also far more affordable in most of the world.

Hewlett Packard printer ink cartridges

KathyDewar / istockphoto

Ink Printers

Companies often sell printers at a loss, knowing that they’ll make their money back on expensive ink cartridges. That said, there are a number of things you can do to defray costs, such as shopping for third-party ink, buying a reservoir or laser printer, or subscribing to an ink delivery service. Infrequent users can also see if their public library offers free or discounted printing.

Young student girl sitting at table with textbooks and laptop staring aside, studying alone in library, looks thoughtful and thoughtful search solution, prepares for exam, makes task feels confused or puzzled


College Textbooks

The average four-year public college student will spend $1,240 on books and supplies alone, according to the College Board. And that’s on top of US tuition, which can be as high as $65,000 a year. Save yourself some cash by buying used, renting, and comparing textbook prices with an aggregator like BigWords.com.

Penny Harrison and her son Parker Harrison rally against the live entertainment ticket industry outside the US Capitol January 24, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images News


If you’ve ever used Ticketmaster — since it’s a monopoly, there’s a good chance you have — then you know why it’s one of America’s most hated companies. It has so much control over the industry that it can charge insane fees and botch ticket sales without losing customers. But the company’s comeback could be around the corner (keep your fingers crossed), as the Department of Justice is currently investigating the ticketer on antitrust grounds.

Related: If Brands Were ‘Brutally Honest,’ They’d Have These Hilarious Slogans

photo of a coffin car at a funeral heading to the graveyard



In 2021, the national median cost for a funeral ceremony was $6,971 for a cremation and $7,848 for a burial. But there are cheaper options. If money is tight, you and your loved ones can opt for direct cremation or burial, which should cut your costs in half. You can also donate your loved one’s body to science, in which case the research institution usually covers the cost of cremation.

Related: What to Do When a Loved One Dies



Overdraft Fees

Lauren Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center has called overdraft fees “one of the most abusive forms of lending the banks engage in.” In an interview with NPR, she adds that levying these charges is essentially like charging a “hidden” high interest rate. To avoid these fees, you can opt out of overdraft protection or look for a bank that offers a lenient overdraft policy.

Related: Credit Card Pitfalls: 10 Things You Should Never Charge

Pile of cut diamonds on a black background

Wikimedia Commons


This may come as a surprise, but diamonds aren’t special. In fact, the pricey gems are more plentiful than emeralds and rubies, making them one of the most common precious stones you can find. But the diamond industry has manufactured scarcity by devising criteria to exclude “flawed” diamonds from sale. Diamonds, like fast cars, are also Veblen goods, meaning that the demand for them increases as the prices rise. So unless you’ve got money to burn, don’t fall for an empty status symbol.

Related: The Best Online Jewelry Stores That Won’t Break the Bank

Bottle of insulin injection with a syringe on a black table and stainless steel background.

Bernard Chantal/istockphoto


According to one 2022 study, insulin is an extreme financial burden for 14% of the Americans who use it, with the hormone consuming more than 40% of their available income. Luckily, there’s been some relief for patients following drugmaker Eli Lilly’s announcement to cap the price of its insulin at $35 a month. You can sign up for the company’s Insulin Access Program online.

Love Cheapism’s coverage? Please sign up for our free newsletters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *