The Price of Being Ripped Off

How much does stuff cost any more?

I understand that things like inflation and the global economy can raise prices, but things have gotten a little bit out of control. I suppose its supply and demand, but in my opinion I think it is more laziness and convenience.

I was recently ripped off by two different vendors in two completely different stores. I did nothing about it in either case. (That's kind of my thing)

My first rip-off happened this week. I needed to buy a stamp to mail a letter. One stamp, that’s it. The post office is only 2 blocks away from my office but I didn't feel like leaving work in the middle of the morning just to mail one letter. So I just went downstairs to the convenience store in my building's lobby and got a stamp.

To be clear I would like to point out that at this point in our economy regular first class stamps cost 42 cents. That is across the country. The price will be going up soon but the price, for now, is 42 cents.

So I go up to the counter and ask for a stamp. The man hands it to me and says "50 cents."

Fifty cents? FIFTY CENTS? YOU SONOFABITCH! You are marking up the price of a stamp? OF A STAMP!

Isn't that illegal? It was price gouging! It wasn't like there was some sort of stamp shortage.


And it wasn't just markup, it was 20 percent markup. Do you know what that means? That means if I wanted to buy a book of stamps at $8.40 this sonofabitch would have charged me an extra $1.68.

Where is the law? Where is common decency? Where is the morality of business that the Greeks, Romans, and aristocrats have venerated for centuries and centuries?

Gone I guess.

I should have stormed out of there. I should have made a fuss. I should have thrown up my arms and in my rage thrown packages of gum (spearmint trident of course) from his buffet-like display at his knobby little head.

But I didn’t.

Instead I paid the 50 cents rather than walk 5 minutes to the post office to wait on a line for 10 minutes to pay 42 cents for a stamp to put on my maintenance check so I could mail it in a week late.

Laziness 1 – Richard 0

I also had 2 watch batteries replaced recently. One in a dressy watch with a leather band, and one in a sport watch with a rubber band.

I went to the jewelry store on the corner which does have a certain sketch factor to it. The man behind the counter has a booming scratchy voice and an accent that could be from anywhere east of Germany. And, while friendly, he also appears to be completely out of his mind.

When I brought in the leather watch the crazy man asked to see it before he told me how much it would cost. I should have known I was about to be ripped off.

I showed him and he said, "Ooo nice watch." What he was actually saying was, "You probably have a roll of hundreds stuffed in your underwear right now." He then told me the price while shrugging his shoulders as though telling me it didn't matter that I'd lost his cat.

"Ehh… 15 dollars."
I was skeptical, but also lazy. So I just accepted his price and left it with him.

Laziness 2 – Richard 0

And because I am too lazy to find a new watch repair shop I went back to this guy with my other dead watch. When I came back with my rubber and considerably cheaper watch, I handed it to him and asked him how much it would cost. He responds by asking me if it is waterproof. I hesitate fearing what kind of scam my answer will get me into, but I tell him yes. He says, “Ok… 20 dollars.”

20 Dollars? Last time it was 15!
Oh I have to water test it.

Water test it? If by water test it you mean take the watch and run it under a faucet, I will water test it myself thank you. I’ll go wash a dish or something. I don't need to pay you an extra 5 bucks to make sure gravity and air pressure still exist in our universe.

And besides, if you "water test" it and it turns out you botched the job and it is no longer water proof…what then Bruneleschi? What's your plan of action there? Charge me another 5 bucks to tell me it wasn't waterproof?

So not wanting to pay more than 15 bucks I argue again.

But last time it was 15!
Did I water test it?

And now completely lying because I don't like this guy and his wandering right eye that points towards the moon, “Yes, yes you water tested it.”

He concedes and charges me only $15 for 15 minutes of work, which I am almost positive, is highway robbery to begin with.

By that standard, this guy gets paid a dollar a minute to put batteries in watches which by my calculation, if this guy works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, he is making $120,000 a year putting batteries in watches. And if he had charged me his “standard” price of $20 this lunatic would be making $160,000 a year.

Either way I am in the wrong line of work.

So I left, happy that I had only been mildly ripped off as opposed to my usual completely ripped off.

Laziness 3 – Richard 0

But the good news is, going forward at least I know what time it is when I get ripped off, whereas before I just had to guess.