Sometime ago we asked our regular contributors through e-mail, What is that one trick that “they” really don’t want you to know? We got many interesting response. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way and most of the respondents have requested to stay anonymous, so no names will be published. Any readers who weren’t mailed can share their stories in comments.
1-5 Corporate Secrets
01. If you want to get an immediate response from a big company, call them out on Twitter. I know people hate hashtags, but nothing gets corporate damage control moving quicker than a public tweet about how disappointed you are in their product. I bought some Belkin iPhone chargers that both died within a couple of months and couldn’t get anywhere with email or phone support. One tweet and I had them messaging me right back asking for my address to ship a replacement.
02. If you want to cancel your hotel room last minute, but there’s a cancellation fee, call and change your reservation to a few weeks later. Remember to call around midday to change. Give a legitimate sounding reason- meeting rescheduled, misremembered the flight date, etc. This will (hopefully) ensure the agent doesn’t make a note in the internal only notes field. Then call back to cancel at least eight hours later. It’s unlikely the hotel has agents on 8+ hour shifts.
03. Speed limits. Many of them are arbitrarily set without an engineered speed study, and are unenforceable as a result. This is very state specific. If you get a ticket, print out your state’s laws on setting speed limits. Many of them have a maximum speed for different types of roads, and then require an engineered speed study for lower posted limits. If the posted limit was set without an engineered speed study, it may be unenforceable and you can argue this in court. Essentially, the agency posting the sign may have broken the law, and you broke their law, but only because they broke the higher law first. Then go to your local road agency governing that stretch of road (city, county, state transportation dept, etc) and file a public records request for the engineered speed study on that road. They’ll have to respond in writing if they don’t have one. Chances are they won’t have one. Take the law and their admission they don’t have one with you to court and show the judge that the speed limit is un-enforceable and that you were driving a reasonable and prudent speed, regardless of what was arbitrarily posted. Source – I’m the engineer for the road dept that would do said speed studies.
04. The HR department at work is there to protect THE COMPANY, not you. Be very wary of information disclosed to them
05. You can file a complaint with the FCC here, if a telecom company jerks you around, and you’ll get the results you should have to begin with. I used this when AT&T charged me local taxes & fees for a state I hadn’t set foot in for 14 months. I painstakingly crafted a Google doc of every single penny and called them and asked for a refund. They told me that they “can’t refund taxes” and that there was no one I could escalate to, and offered me a “one time refund of $25.” I filed a complaint with the FCC and a few days later got a voicemail from a “executive customer support” asking for a call back. I didn’t even bother and got another phone call where they told me “they were calling about my letter to the FCC” and refunded me every g*ddamn penny and fixed my account.
6-10 Corporate Secrets
06. These two drugs are the exact same thing. But the allergy medicine on the left costs half as much and has twice as many doses as the sleep aid on the right.
07. Mr. Clean “magic erasers” are just melamine sponges. You can buy them like ten for a dollar on ebay.
08. Most of the dulling that occurs with cartridge razor blades is NOT a result of shaving, but rather water being left to evaporate on the blades. I’ve been using the same cartridge for the past 8 months by running the blades upwards (I.E. – opposite the direction you would when shaving) on a towel 15 times after rinsing it off, then blowing on it for a few seconds. Eight months later this blade still barely pulls at all.
09. Browse incognito to get past a paywall news website. Only works where you are allowed ‘x’ articles per week. Incognito is the new stealing your neighbor’s paper off his driveway and then throwing it in the trash.
10. (In the U.S.): if you’re ever pursued for a debt, especially if you are taken to court over it, demand that they produce documentation verifying that you owe the debt and the amount. Quite often, they won’t be able to and the case will be dismissed. Most debt collectors aren’t the party you originally owed the money to but rather companies that purchase debts in bulk for pennies on the dollar. Very often, all they have on you is your name on a spreadsheet and they’re banking on the fact that you won’t contest it. It is important to note that this really only works if you haven’t started paying them. Once you start paying them, you are basically agreeing that you owe them money.
11-15 Corporate Secrets
11. You don’t actually have to pay the asking price for entry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. They make it seem like it’s the price of admission but it’s really just a suggested donation. They make more money than they need from wealthy donors. When you go to pay ‘admission’ just give them a dollar.
12. Buying a car – always always always do negotiating via email or phone and bounce offers back and forth against competing dealers. This will always get you the best possible deal. This works! It will also probably make multiple salespeople miserable. My manager gave me so much sh*t if I had a customer doing this (as it was my fault for not being able to get them through the door). To be honest, he rarely would play ball. No quotes over the phone or email. When he did, the customer usually got a great deal. Just keep trying different dealerships until one of them cracks! Oh, and be nice to your salesperson is you do because they’re probably having to go to bat for you. Another car buying tip, if you have USAA, use their car buying service!! Super hassle free and they consistently got the lower prices than anyone else no matter how much negotiating went on.
13. Chipotle doesn’t care about you trying to rip them off. Yes, we all know that the bowl gives you more and you can get extra of whatever you want. If you’re slightly more committed you can get a free water and fill it with soda, even though they now have a sign on the machine explicitly warning against it. Chipolte doesn’t give a single sh*t. They know you’re doing it, and it’s been accounted for in the books somewhere. What they do know, is that if they let you think you’re being sneaky, and you (particularly broke college kids) think that you’re gaming the system and coming out ahead, you’ll keep coming back again and again. Even with responsibly sourced ingredients, the biggest cost is labor, especially when ~>50% of the meal is rice, beans, and tortilla. You could get a burrito the size of a baby, and it wouldn’t make a dent in the budget compared to what it cost to have 10 people cook and serve that stuff to you.
14. When buying a car negotiate the price of the car, not the monthly payment. People are usually more concerned with what the monthly payment will be and are often ripped off. It’s easy to do the math with an interest calculator if you have a round about idea of what your rate will be.
15. “Economy Size” is not always the best cost per weight/volume/use. You will also find some stores that print the cost per weight/volume in different units for different sizes. Same size packages by weight or count may have a different number of servings, so check that as well.
16-20 Corporate Secrets
16. Grocery stores. Everything in a grocery store is pre-designed to take as much money from you as possible. The bread and milk will be in locations where you have to walk through or around the entire store to get both. The more expensive brands are at eye level, they pay for this privilege. Cereal box characters look “down” right at children which connects at a psychological level to make them want more cereal. Checkout lines have candy bars at child reaching level intentionally. New floor designers are even consulting casinos to no longer have rows and be more maze-like to keep you in the store longer. Flyers mailed to you with your name and address are tailored based on your points card buying patterns. Good smells are intentionally pumped in to make you hungry. The list goes on.
17. Bulk vinegar can replace a lot of cleaning products. I use vinegar to kill those pesty weeds in my yard and in between cement cracks. Safe and cheaper than those weed killers they sell in Orange Manly Store Place.
18. Off-name and store name brands are not always cheaper. They, at least partially, rely on the misconception that brand name goods are always more expensive to sell things at a higher price. Always check the actual price tag. Even if the store brand is “on sale.”
19. You can almost always get a better price for a hotel by going directly to that hotel’s website. Expedia, Hotwire, etc are kind of pointless. Also, you can’t get a refund from those sites and you WILL get the worst room available.
20. You are legally allowed to get a full refund for an airline ticket within 24 hours of purchase, in the U.S at least.
21-25 Corporate Secrets
21. Several careers are totally or nearly totally unregulated in their qualifications. You can just call yourself a psychic, faith healer, nutritionist, pastor, minister, medium, DJ, or personal trainer and that’s it. For some you’ll be found out almost immediately by another professional, but since there’s no licensing or required professional certification there isn’t anything they can do about it. For some you can be proven a fraud repeatedly and never face any consequences, and might even solidify your clientele’s loyalty with attempts by the man/big pharma/Obama/liberals/conservatives/reverse vampires/whoever to stop you.
22. Your children’s teachers don’t want to tell you that they can only fail a certain percentage of their roster. So your little snowflake who is dumb as a post and disruptive and always getting into trouble is being kicked down the road to the next teacher to deal with every year until they get the final kick across the stage to graduate so the school can have high graduation numbers. This makes the administrators look like they are competent (most of them are not), the teachers look like they are amazing (some of them still are) and the school look like it’s great so everyone can keep their job, get more cash next year and do the same to the next class. Source: part of the system, part of the problem
23. A really cheap way to fly to places that usually cost way more to get to is to buy a cheaper ticket to some other place, possibly with a different airline, that makes a connection in the airport you want to end up in. So you get off there and just don’t get back onto the flight. Some dude got in trouble for making a website that helped people find those flights. You can’t check bags though, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you really need to be somewhere for cheap.
24. I don’t know if they “don’t want you to know about this”, but here we go. If you’re going to make a purchase with an online retailer, it’s often worth putting the items in your cart, then leaving the site for a little while, because some sites will contact you with a special offer or discount code in an attempt to persuade you back into making that purchase you were going to make. Can save you a few bucks. It doesn’t always work, but it’s often worth attempting, especially with solely online retailers.
25. You can contact the credit agencies yourself and lock your files so that any attempts to get new credit on your SSN requires you to unlock them. Nobody doesn’t want you to know about this. Being a bank and dealing with fraudulent accounts is a pain in the a*s. Be careful about this, though. Make sure you keep your records up to date, or it can be a huge pain in the a*s when you actually want credit. I had my credit card compromised a few years ago, and did this. I’m now trying to apply for credit, and the process to get my information updated and/or the security freeze listed is a pain in the a*s because they only accept fax verification with two pieces of government ID. My faxes keep bouncing (yes I’ve checked the number, five times), and if they were to update things, it takes 3-15 business days.