How Do You Know When You're Getting Ripped off?

This is something I am sure many of us wonder about different things and apologies for being quite broad, but thought it would be good to start a conversation. There are things that we are really savvy about and then there are things that we basically hand over our wallet to the business and ask which notes they want. For example, when you get your car serviced, how do you know that they even did anything to your car? Is that too suspicious? We got four tyres done at MyCar once and paid for wheel alignment as well. No expert but driving out from there the steering was not straight so it was obvious that they didn't do the alignment. So I was wondering, do you have ways of knowing if someone ripped you off? Say a plumber? or a car service?


  • How long is a piece of string?

    Some people will be able to guesstimate fairly accurately.

    Some people will know how to measure it and find out.

    Some people won't have any clue what to do and freeze.

    Some people would look at you funny for asking and ignore.

    Same applies.

  • It depends, ultimately it comes down to getting info - be it from friends, family, or through quotes or similar products in other stores.

    • acting a little "too friendly", or using incentives to make you feel better about the transaction (free coffee, free gift in the form of worthless crap)
    • strange smirks while conducting transaction.
    • refusal to budge on price or give any form of discount
    • claims it's below "cost price" cough bullshit
    • immediate hit you with "there's no warranty on this item" when about to do transaction
    • "cash only", and "no receipt"
    • charging the person before you less, and you 10x more just because you've got a white face (oops, that's Asia)

    and so on….

    most of it comes down to knowing the price and if it feels like an appropriate price for the good/service, or research beforehand. sometimes, it also comes down to gut instinct, if it doesn't feel right there's probably something wrong, then you need to ask yourself - how badly do you really need it?

  • You need to be that person that stares intently and take notes whilst they work on your car. You might even learn a few tricks whilst you're at it.

  • Education, know what you're looking at.

    Say car service, check oil dipstick, can see if it new or old, breaks can see, for example. Interestingly, local Kia service now will send you a link to a video showing car being serviced, thought it was a great idea.

    • Problem with diesel cars the oil turns black again straight away, or so I'm told. So if they took it for a test drive afterwards then its already going to be black when you check it.

  • It’s difficult, and you have to shop around. Like I paid $99 once for a service to my whopper snipper and they claimed they did all this bullshit to it but I doubt it, I said did you just change the spark plug (I didn’t know how easy it was at the time) and they said no, anyway, when it stopped working again I got a spark plug and socket set from Bunnings and presto first go it was fine. Getting one person to do a heap of jobs is also a more expensive option but you’ve to weigh up how time poor you might be: eg you’ve got a bunch of plumbing jobs but 1/2 can be completed by a handyman if you aren’t confident to do it yourself, the plumber will charge you double or more. Mechanics are shysters and everyone involved in that circle rips each other off, you’ve just got to work out who’s the best for you

  • For car services whilst under warranty - there is normally a fixed amount which you can obtain from Toyota, Honda etc - so get that schedule from the corporate office. When you book let them know you are booking in for that service which is going to cost $XXX. However, they will try to add stuff on for extra $ - or leave stuff off when they don't have time!

  • I know when other people get ripped off.

    Asked a guy in neighborhood how much his roof restoration cost.

    12 tiles replaced, ridge capping, a pressure wash and 2 coats of paint on a 100sqm roof. $6400 thanks for coming.

    • I'm looking to get mine done In Brisbane I'm worried that quotes are going to be around that kind of money 🤦‍♂️

    • yeah thats us right now… got a bit of moss growing on them and maybe some cracked tiles but not sure if we are going to be handing thousands over for something that my karcher could do.

  • +1 vote

    Getting Ripping off = Doing a bad job. If that is what you are implying.

    If you get a poor service, that shop/person should fix it, raise it with them and let them know something is not right, they ought to take a look and fix it if is found to be not done correctly.

    Don't wait for a few months to tell them or tell someone else not responsible for it.

  • +2 votes

    No expert but driving out from there the steering was not straight so it was obvious that they didn't do the alignment.

    If the steering was straight when you went in, this is actually evidence in favour of them having done a wheel alignment. They just didn't finish the job and adjust the steering wheel angle correctly.

  • When you take up a deal like this and the gf tells you she's pregnant.

  • There's an old saying: in any transaction there's always a fool, if you don't know who the fool is then you're the fool.

    • Ah, the favourite scam of every scam artist; trying to pretend that everyone is as dishonest and scummy as they are, and they are just smarter, not more trashy.

      • Yeah a mechanic can say others would do this or that.. and win you over.. how do you know he just conned you into trusting him.

  • When I see a deal on OzB but the comments are overwhelmingly negative, eg

  • When you walk into Harvey Norman

  • When the discussion turns to price and there is a change in tone / manner from the seller that is more reserved. That's a pretty good indication they're testing the water opening with a whopper :)

    I've holidayed in asian countries and as the cashed up foreigner, it's funny when the seller wont look you in the eye or minimises the conversation when it comes to price.

    If someone is casual or nonchalent when stating the price, it's probably an honest expression of value.

    • some have perfected the lie and do casual tone very effectively while staring u straight in the eye - that too could be a dead giveaway

  • For example, when you get your car serviced, how do you know that they even did anything to your car? Is that too suspicious? We got four tyres done at MyCar once and paid for wheel alignment as well. No expert but driving out from there the steering was not straight so it was obvious that they didn't do the alignment.

    Hidden camera with mic recorder in the car somewhere so you can see and or hear them - dashcam might be good here but then they'd just unplug the power cable…unless you have a battery or capacitor powered one (Or the power cable is well hidden to the point that they'd need to rip everything out to go find it just to unplug it…) that runs off its own power for a good whole day (And not like 10 minutes…) without the power cable…but then here they could just turn it off unless there's like an optional password feature where you passworded the turn off button so they can't turn it off without typing in the password or rigorously pulling out the dashcam and taking out the batteries or something…. Or watch them do the service in person so you know or not they're actually doing what you paid them to do….

    Another option would just do the car service yourself…if you know what you're doing….but then you won't get that nice "stamp" on your service logbook showing that it was cared for at their specific service intervals… Of course you can just tell the next buyer that you did take care of it by doing the services yourself but how are they gonna believe you without official stamps?? I don't know if hand signatures hold the same weight as a business stamp on the service logbook…so you can always just sign the book yourself there… I guess a mechanical inspection(from a qualified mechanic or the buyer themselves if they know what they're looking for…) would be able to solve whether the car was looked after and serviced regularly or not by the seller himself as spoken….

    I once bought a car where the previous owners only showed up for the one complementary dealership service and then the rest of the service log book was empty…saw some receipts for engine oil, so presumably the previous owners only changed the engine oil and maybe oil filter and that's it….didn't bother with the other bits like the fuel filter or inspections, etc.,

    • Are you allowed to do that in WA?

      It's a crime in NSW (Surveillance Devices Act 2007)

      • No but since the law is broken everyday these days more and more people do. so what its not admissible you know the truth, and can inform others.

        people wanna prosecute the innocent to protect the guilty - well that's interesting isn't it?

      • Do you want to know if your car is being serviced as advertised and paid for or not? Otherwise service your car yourself if you care about whether or not you're allowed to do it or not.

        • Mate I'm just stating the law, take it up with your state MP if you don't like it.

          • @deme: If I wanted to do this and find out whether the service I paid for is actually being done or not, I would install a secret camera and mic and find out myself regardless of what the law says….or if I can enter the workshop as they work on the car, then I'll stand there idly by watching them do it until they hand the car over to me as suggested in my original post.

            But I only posted my reply, as one possible solution, because user27 wanted to know how you would know that you were being ripped off from a car service with them doing nothing or not doing the service fully as detailed on the invoice you'll later get when you get your car back after being "serviced"….

            • @Zachary: Cool story that carries a prison sentence.
              Tell it to the judge not me

              • @deme: Well they'll have to prove that I hid a secret camera and mic and had intention to record the events of the scheduled car service day to ensure I was being properly treated to a car service and not ripped off or mechanics not doing the job properly….

                Anyways, It's here if OP wants to try this or not to find out if his car is serviced properly or not when he brings it over and pays them to do the job; otherwise there's no other way to verify your car got properly serviced unless you have a trustworthy mate working there and either watching the guy doing the service on your car or doing the service on your car himself or herself.

  • Did they do the alignment but not have the wheel straight and true at the time? Maybe it moved when a tierod locknut was loosened.
    Maybe you were driving on a road that have terrible camber and you had to countersteer.

  • When they cackle after the price is agreed. My builder did this a couple times after negotiating the cost of a variation.

  • One way is to keep a piece of information under your sleeve as your "plumb line" to check whether the guy is honest or not. Eg know your car service history. If they ask u to change ur brakes and u just did it last year for example.

  • +1 vote

    In IT you know your company will get ripped off if you deal with Enterprise vendor that invites exec to events or seminars with free flights/accommodation.