Overpriced stuff

I’ve previously written posts about things that I consider way overpriced: these includes coffee at Starbuck’s (a large black coffee can be over $3, not to mention the varieties of Confectionary Coffee like caramel macchiatos), as well as commercial toothpaste (Pepsodent costs about $1 a tube, and is just as good as much higher-priced toothpastes, which shows you how much the prices are inflated.)

On my fasting day on Thursday, having run out of diet soda (i.e., lunch), I visited the student union here to get a Diet Coke. I noticed that they had replaced the large paper cups with smaller plastic ones, which held, I estimate, about 12 ounces of soda. This cost $2.39. I don’t buy soda in cans, but I suspect that’s about six times what a can of the stuff would cost at the grocery store.

Yesterday I went to a local eatery for lunch, treating to lunch the departmental staff who watered my plants when I was gone. We all had sodas, and it cost $2.49 for an ice-laden soda. (Places also inflate prices by filling soda cups with ice, which of course is a ripoff: you don’t need that much ice to keep the drink cold.)

This is unconscionable, as the actual cost of the liquid to these places must be something downwards of 25¢. Like wine in nearly all restaurants, soda prices are inflated because, I guess, people are willing to pay too-high prices for drinks, so it covers the lower profit margin on food.

I protest! But my recourse is simply to buy diet sodas in 2-liter bottles at the grocery store, as I buy Pepsodent when I see it. I’m sure other readers have beefs about items they consider overpriced, and I encourage you to describe these beefs below.


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    another factor to consider : so-called “subscriptions”, or “subscribe and save” options.

    I understand the value of subscribing to things besides magazines, however, consider subscribing to Diet Coke. I’m not sure what to say about this, but I bet Charbucks and the like will eventually compete with subscription plans.

  2. yazikus
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I usually find myself on the other side of the gripe, feeling certain products ought to cost more – like milk and meat!
    That said, I used to go to a vegan smoothie shop that had the most delicious smoothies. They were so great. But they cost 8-10 dollars a piece for 16oz! That is just too much for a smoothie.

    • yazikus
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Oh- I just remembered the one I hate the most. Every few years the state requires that I get a new license plate (I think for the reflective coating) – and they make me pay to keep my same license plate number. What a racket!

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        If that is the excuse they’re giving, then they’re either lying or incompetent. The reflective layer on UK license plates (made by or licensed from 3M, IIRC) will last at least 15 years, including abuses like de-icing salt.

        • Jan Looman
          Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

          I’ve had the same license plate since 2006 – and this is in Ontario where they use salt on the road in winter like it will cure cancer.

          • yazikus
            Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            I have learned a new thing today! It was mandated every seven years, but in 2014 they dropped the requirement. I am pleased.

          • Merilee
            Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

            The places that make you get new ones want to give prisoners something to do.

            California used to require new ones every year.

        • David Coxill
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          But in an effort to stop number plate cloning ,if you want another plate for a trailer or caravan you have to show proof that you own the vehicle and it costs around £10 a time .

      • Posted January 26, 2019 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

        In NZ our plates last the lifetime of the car.

        The only occasions that I’m aware of any necessity to replace them is when the vehicle’s registration lapses and it has to be re-registered, or if the plates are damaged.

        An annual registration fee must be maintained or vehicle registration lapses which also incurs a fee irrespective of if it is later re-registered.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 12:29 am | Permalink

          Though you can (in NZ) put your rego on ‘hold’ for as long as you like.

          This is very useful for owners of cars being restored or ‘off the road’. Your car must have a current ‘Warrant of Fitness’ before you can renew the registration and of course, if it’s in bits, it ain’t going to get one. So you put it on ‘hold’ at no cost for a year or five, and when the restoration is complete you get it a new warrant and register it again. I have to say I think this is most considerate of the authorities (and I don’t say that often 🙂

          If you just let the rego lapse, then you effectively have to register it as a new car, and it has to meet all current regulations, which of course your 1970 classic is never going to do.


          • David Coxill
            Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:35 am | Permalink

            In GB when the time comes to pay the road tax ,you can declare the vehicle SORN ,Statutory Off Road Notice ,which means you can’t park or use it on the road .

  3. Peter Nonacs
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    25 cents of popcorn costing $10 at a movie theater.

    • yazikus
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Good one! I went to the movies for the first time in a decade recently, and was horrified at the popcorn prices and sizes. Who the hell needs that much popcorn? The smallest size they offered was trough-like.

      • Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        …and you get free refils!

    • Christopher
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s more like 3¢ for popcorn, 22¢ of salt, another 25¢ for that vile fake butter slime. If you’re gonna charge me upwards of $10 for popcorn, can’t you at the very least make it taste GOOD?! I mean, I get it that you’re trying to make money, but it’s not like those profits are going to your woefully underpaid teenage and elderly staff!

    • Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Pretty much everything at the movie theater confection stand is grossly over-priced.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Beyond that, one is a slave to the tsunami of advertising audiovisual noise prior to the previews/movie. I remember a time when movie theatre capitalists were merciful and content to do no more than play quiet instrumental music as background to ones quiet, congenial conversation with ones companion(s).

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    oh also with overpriced stuff – usually the difference is convenience. it is evil but true – if they have to drag all the coke and CO2 tanks into a place, from somewhere else, they simply can increase the price and there is some reason to – they did the work.

    i.e. a grocery store is not a movie theater.

    evil, yes. but what can you do besides carry a coke in your pocket?

  5. Andrew
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to commiserate with you on this one, good sir. You are drinking soda?! I’m trying to imagine something worse for your health than soda every day, even diet. Kick the habit! 🙂
    A regular coffee at Starducks is still $2, plus you get free WiFi and a nice warm place to sip it. Could be worse. Avoid the fancy fancy drinks and you do ok.
    Welcome back to the cold!

    • Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      One of the roolz is not to tell me how or what to eat. I don’t want to hear about not drinking diet sodas, which aren’t that unhealthful. So please don’t police my diet. Thank you.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        In a pinch, a splash will help to loosen rusty lug nuts.

        So there’s that, too. 🙂

    • Christopher
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      That may be considered a roolz violation there, good sir. And while it is true that soda isn’t exactly a health food, I don’t think it’s a serious problem for someone who consumes it in moderation. If the Prof was putting around a 64oz mega big gulp barrel o’ soda, then there may be reason for concern but he’s clearly in robust health.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      I knew someone was going to do the soda shaming.

      • Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        You should hear the sugared soda shaming.

        • David Coxill
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

          Always been put off why the term Soda in regards to fizzy drinks ,Soda makes me think of caustic soda and soda lakes .

  6. John Laughlin
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    My wife and I went to see a movie the other afternoon—matinee prices. Shared a large barrel of popcorn and two sodas. The total price which included the tickets, with tax, was something over $40!!

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      I bet there’s some sort of psychology they are working on here – they know you will hate paying so darn much for so darn little. however, they are betting you will have a positively memorable experience, and in some way (waves hands), you are convincing yourself that the $40 was worth it, and will be back for more.

    • Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Eating popcorn in a cinema is a breach of the Wittertainment Code of Conduct. Save money and keep to the code by not doing it.

      Hello to Jason Isaacs.

      • Bric
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 3:37 am | Permalink

        Wow I salute you sir. Preach!

    • Merilee
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      I can’t think of the brand name, but we have found some excellent caramel popcorn at our local multiplex that we have to keep ourselves from buying every time. It is far tastier than the regular popcorn and not substantially pricier. It comes in a box.

  7. Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    When it comes to dollars per milliliter, no common consumer item I know of beats printer ink.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Hope you know how to override the low ink or toner message and keep on printing,

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Some years ago we did the sums when we were setting up a print farm after moving to a larger premises. A £200 printer (with desirable characteristics otherwise) was fitted with non-manufacturer external ink tanks (2l, not 75ml), taking the price up to nearly £1000. It saved us about £2000/ year.
      Also, the printer manufacturers didn’t do an ink with the acid etch properties we needed for archival prints. The after-market did. We used that printer for over a decade.

    • Posted January 26, 2019 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Quantum liquids: superfluid He, or Bose-Einstein condensate superfluids…about million dollars for one experiment that might make a microgram in five years of running for BECs.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      What is this “ink” of which you speak, sir, something known to the elders in the time before pixels?

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Yes, soda is one of the worst in the over priced items. Fast food, theaters and bars make most of their money on the mix for sodas. It is far cheaper for them than actual soda cans or bottles yet they charge even more. Everyone should do what us diabetics must do, drink water. I do not mean bottled expensive water either – Another large rip off.

    If you spent any time at all in the stores in Hawaii you surely noticed even much higher prices. Generally food is about one third higher in Hawaii and Alaska. Other items, such as things you might buy in home depot are even worse. Why so much higher in these places – mostly transportation because everything is one way but you really pay round trip. The boats return pretty much empty. Also, lack of competition.

    Now if you really want to see over priced just check out the pharmacy prices. For folks with no insurance, I do not see how they do it. Sometimes the pharmacy will tell you about a $30 or $50 dollar coupon on line but sometimes you can’t use it because it is only for those without insurance.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      “… you really pay round trip. The boats return pretty much empty”

      excellent point

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        Yes, always the problem with living on an Island or a remote place such as Alaska, everything has to come in to support the people. There is very little industry there so nothing coming out. They ship fish back from Alaska but that’s about it. Hawaii ships some pineapple and Hawaiian shirts back. All the boats still have to get back so. In transportation business the question always is – what is your back haul?

        I remember when they had the big fight in Hawaii about bringing in milk from the mainland. The milk producers in Hawaii fought it for years but back in the 80s they lost. Safeway was the company that fought it and finally won. So competition brought the price down a bit but still very high. The milk requires refrigeration of course.

    • dabertini
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Bull’s-eye! Bottled water is even more of a rip off than soda.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 12:36 am | Permalink

        Totally agree!

        My bottled water comes out of the tap. Goes in a Pepsi bottle, which lasts about a year before it wears out and I have to buy another Pepsi.


        • David Coxill
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          Shades of Peckham Spring Water .

        • Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

          We finally bought some hot/cold drink containers and carry our own water with us now. We have well water that is very good, then we filter that, keep it in the fridge, and fill our drink containers for every excursion.

          It wasn’t so much the cost of the water that was putting us off, it was all of the damn plastic we were discarding. We just could not continue contributing to that cause.

          Speaking of overpriced items anyone bought a gas tank for a boat lately? They want 60 bucks for what is essentially a plastic jug. The gas line that goes from the jug to the outboard engine will cost you another 40-50 bucks. If its going to cost more than it should, it’s pretty much anything for marine use.

      • another fred
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        Like our host, I drink diet soda. $0.72 per 2 liter bottle at Walmart. Cheaper than water.

        • Steve Cameron
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

          My problem with the 2-litre bottles is the soda goes too flat for my liking long before I’m though the bottle. I find the 12-packs of cans are worth the extra cost (about $1.20 more than 2 2-litre bottles including recycling fees at my grocery store) plus I can easily pack one in my lunch!

          • another fred
            Posted January 28, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

            If you place the bottle on its side (best in the refrigerator) in a position where the liquid is against the cap it will not go flat for quite a while. Gas can escape the seal of the cap but liquid cannot. Very little gas will move from the liquid though the seal.

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I paid the”dumb ass” tax for forgetting to put windshield wiper fluid in my car so I paid over $5 at the gas station! 😩

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      concentrate is available out there.

  10. ploubere
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Restaurants are very narrow-margin operations, and typically rely on drink sales to make any profit. That’s why a glass of wine costs $8 to $15.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      And also rely on tips for employees. I’ve read elsewhere recently that the tip thing originated with African-American Pullman porters, for whom tips were their only recompense. Seems that the IRS ought to consider whether these restaurant entrepreneurs ought to be paying tax on “imputed” income.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        Mean like this?

      • another fred
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        “Seems that the IRS ought to consider whether these restaurant entrepreneurs ought to be paying tax on “imputed” income.”

        The IRS has been doing that (with little success) since the 70s. Computer sales records have made it easier for them to impute income, but it is still hard to chase down.

        Large chains are more cooperative with the IRS as they are better targets, yielding more $$ for the enforcement efforts.

        When I ran restaurants 50 years ago we didn’t care what the “waiters and waitresses” put down on their tax slips as long as they signed them. Nowadays I understand that the IRS leans on owners to get them to act as enforcement for them.

        People “in the know” and sympathetic to servers leave cash tips.

        I’m no expert on the current state of affairs as I wised up, sold out, and went back to Engineering school

  11. Liz
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    College education

    • Filippo
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Especially regarding those who own a day care center, but don’t do the actual work.

      • Liz
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        Well, I think the whole “system” is messed up.

        We should have the whole world on a: half barter, half commune system of do whatever makes sense. But you have to be able to play at least two lines of a instrument to make it.

  12. BobTerrace
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    If you want to see overpriced, you should have come with us when we went shopping for our kitchen remodeling last year or our master bath remodeling we are doing this year.

    We found a lovely quartzite vanity top (quartzite is the natural stuff, quartz is the man made stuff, go figure). Quartzite cost double what granite costs.

    Bathroom lighting and a fan we picked cost over $1k.

    Bathroom floor and shower tile cost $2000 which does not include installation.

    A basic toilet can be had for less than $200. They have others that range up to $3000!

    We selected what we liked. Sure, we could have spent less for material that we wen’t crazy about.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      No Trumpian gold-plated toilet?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure you know – all the money in a house goes to kitchens and bathrooms. Just cabinets in the kitchen can go past 25 or 30 grand pretty fast. All the modern kitchens must have and island and that is several thousand more. Don’t want to think about it.

      • Merilee
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        I just spent $11,000 Canadian on really nice new cabinets and drawers (just the outer bits) for quite a big kitchen. Now I don’t feel so bad…

    • Steve Cameron
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      This reminds of when we re-shingled our roof this past summer. We got quotes for roughly the same level of work and materials (as near as we could determine) that had $6000 of room between them!

  13. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    UK pricing for electronics*, hotels & train travel! I am told that textbooks [school & university] are as ridiculously overpriced today as 45 years ago**

    I believe the antipodes have it even worse & just possibly there’s more to it than remoteness [I’m unsure on this]

    * Even allowing for the high UK purchase tax [VAT = 20%]
    ** I don’t believe this is due to small quantities – I think the publishers know certain books are essential & raise prices to a captive audience

    End of whinge!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Electronics – the antipodes (i.e. NZ) are not necessarily any worse. *Very* dependent on the item, though. If it’s a specialised item then overseas markets may well be much cheaper than the one NZ importer.

      OTOH, for things like cameras, memory cards, RAM etc I usually survey Ebay and Trademe (our local equivalent) and often there’s not much saving to be had by looking overseas.

      But for rarely used ‘specialist’ items the economics of bulk selling fail to apply and the NZ market is often too small.


    • Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Michael, I finally scored some Devon Double Cream! Lately I’ve been swamped, clearing snow as well as being caregiver to a disabled family member, so I just got around to shopping at the whole food place, and found it. It costed $7.99 for 170g, but that’s OK as we’re not going to have it regularly.

      I couldn’t bear to risk ruining ruin the double cream by heating it for that recipe, so I used the 35% whipping cream I had on hand to melt the chocolate and again whipped some to fold in. finally using the Devon cream with the liqueur for the topping. Yummy.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the update Smoked

        Sounds great! It’s a pity no photos.

        I’m amazed Devon Double Cream is available there – it’s expensive here too, but I go for the “extra thick Jersey Double Cream” which is almost as good. The Devon [or Devonshire] & the Jersey creams both employ the Jersey breed of cow – she’s selected to produce milk that’s extra fatty.

        I’m gonna order now & scones! 🙂

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:27 am | Permalink

          she’s selected to produce milk that’s extra fatty.

          The only milk I drink… only 2 litres per week, in case anyone is thinking of telling me I should be drinking semi-skimmed rubbish.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:56 am | Permalink

            Jersey 5% gold top?

            • Serendipitydawg
              Posted January 27, 2019 at 3:53 am | Permalink

              Indeed. It is the only modern milk that behaves as it did back when we had milk delivered in tall glass bottles to the doorstep, the cream separating and rising to the top (and that was silver top, the gold top resembled a somewhat thin single cream).

            • Serendipitydawg
              Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:03 am | Permalink

              This has also reminded me of the one third pint bottles we used to get free each day at school back in the 60’s, also silver top. For one of our classes everyone donated the top of their milk and took a turn churning it in teacher-made equipment (a glass Kilner jar in a rotating clamp) to make butter, which we then consumed on Ryvita crispbread. That was education! Happy days 😀

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:13 am | Permalink

                Thatcher, Thatcher, milk snatcher!

              • Serendipitydawg
                Posted January 27, 2019 at 5:34 am | Permalink

                By the time she abolished free school milk I was well and truly at grammar school and I can’t recall ever getting it there… I may be wrong, it was a long time ago and much of the detail between 11 plus and college is lost to me … a lot has happened since then 😀

        • Posted February 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          Sorry no photos, but the ‘pudding’ was not much to look at, as I made divided it up in three small non-transparent red dishes saved from Costco’s choc. mousse. The top looked nice, with the cream on top, a dusting of cocoa and a few frozen raspberries. For special company, glasses would look fancier!

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      My daughter (which probably meant me, vicariously) bought college textbooks in the UK (my wife was dragging her around either Dillons or Foyles taking a trip down memory lane) as the same editions were so much cheaper than in the US – this may have been course specific, but was within the last few years.

      Electronics definitely overpriced in the UK

  14. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    hmmm, just curious…

    [ checks tags ]
    [ “Get Off My Lawn!” ]

    yep – awesome.

  15. Historian
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    By far, the greatest ripoff is prescription drugs for the uninsured. We’ve all see articles about this. Here’s an example. The uninsured price for a 90 day supply of my generic cholesterol medicine(40 mg) is $665.89 at Walgreens. My cost with insurance: zero.

    • Liz
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink


      This is egregious.

      • yazikus
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Also, Walmart prescriptions vs. not-Walmart pharmacies. I get my dog’s insulin at Walmart – around $30 for a month’s supply. Once, while the car was in the shop I went to a local pharmacy to get it instead- there the price was over $200.

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Rx are even a ripoff for the insured. I have “top tier” insurance, but my Advair is $80/month. Without insurance it’s $340! So a 90 day supply would be $1,020. And without Advair I’m useless, so there is no choice even if I didn’t have insurance. Nothing generic on the market, and don’t know if there ever will be. So put that in your American exceptionalism pipe and smoke it.

      • another fred
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        You should try Eliquis, at least up until this year when coverage increased, my insurance covered about 10% of a $500/month tab. Fortunately, my doctor supplemented my needs with samples, and I cut the pills in half to stretch the dose.

        Try that on social security.

        I’ve got a friend in much better financial shape that I am who pays over $1200/month with the best insurance he can get (for some admittedly rarely prescribed medications).

        We are heading for a reckoning.

        • Mark R.
          Posted January 27, 2019 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

          Damn. No matter how “bad” someone has it, there is always a multitude who has it worse. And in this American healthcare crisis, it’s all about money. Got it? You’ll live a long and healthy life. Don’t? Your life expectancy at the moment is that of a 3rd world country.

          Reckoning indeed…

          • Mark R.
            Posted January 27, 2019 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            I sort of liked my grammatical error, because living as long as a 3rd world country is like…vampire territory! 😉

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree on toothpaste! The ‘brands’ charge ridiculous prices, which presumably are necessary to buy all the advertising time so they can inflict their crappy ads on us. It’s a vicious circle.

    Coke (and other soft drink pricing) is completely arbitrary. The markups on small bottles are huge, maybe to pay for small businesses that sell them, while the supermarket bottles have much lower markup. This was impressed on me at a motorway service station that happened to have the 1.5 litre bottles alongside the 600ml bottles – the 1.5 litres were actually _cheaper_ than the 600mls! Even if you only wanted a quick drink, you would have saved money by buying the 1.5l, drinking half and throwing the rest away.

    Bottled water – total ripoff (and an environmental crime if the tap water is safe to drink, which is most first-world countries.) Why should it cost more than soft drinks?

    And ‘sport’ drinks (which I think are just sugar water) – ludicrous prices. ‘Sport’ anything, come to that. If I want an ‘energy bar’ I just buy a chocolate bar.


  17. Doug R Mitchell
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Almost everything in the United States that isn’t a basic necessity of life (food, shelter, clothing, transportation) is overpriced — and even for those most people overpay, primarily to signal wealth.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Possibly you are ignoring health care – certainly overpriced and a necessity of life.

      • Doug R Mitchell
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        Yes, especially for low resource interventions. Diagnosis and treatment of a simple sinus infection should not cost what it does.

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      When it comes to food, shelter, clothing, and transportation, it just depends where you live. In Wyoming, those 4 are fairly priced, but in NYC or LA, those 4 are overpriced along with everything else.

  18. Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Around my place, the cost of internet and mobile services, petrol $2.10 a liter for 91 octane, I use 95 or 98 I dont look at the litre price, just punch in $ amount per fill and move on.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Yes, gas/petrol was around $1.75 a gallon here in Wichita and suddenly went back up to about $2.00 a gallon. Roughly about 4 of those liters in a gallon. So you are about 4 times our price.

  19. Roo
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I actually like the ice since I like ice chips and I particularly like ice chips that have been sitting in soda – but most of the place I frequent offer free refills.

    Overall I have few complaints about pricing trends, as things have gotten exponentially cheaper with the introduction of things like Amazon. I think I probably paid more (without even factoring in inflation), on average, for a shirt twenty years ago than I do today (those were the days when you were excited about a new Gap sweater for Christmas, vs. just ordering new $12 tunics from Amazon as needed). I think I probably paid about the same for gas, as I vaguely recall it being a big scandal when gas was almost up to FOUR dollars, a price point it still hasn’t hit anywhere near where I live.

    There are some exceptions where the free market goes all Bwahahahaha, I’ve got you now! though. When I was a kid, there were two tired parents for every 2-4 kids, doting aunts and uncles with kids of their own, and grandparents with about 10 grandkids. Now the ratio of doting adults to kids is more or less reversed, and I sometimes wonder if I’m going to hell or reincarnating into destitution after paying for $50 smash cakes for babies, hand made birthday photo props (that will be used once and donated) on Etsy, and so on. (Pricing on such items is more ‘old fashioned’ as there’s no mass production, so you go back to handmade prices.) It’s easy to justify though, because no matter how much you do, plenty of other people are doing something far more elaborate, so you can tell yourself that relatively speaking, you’re “keeping it simple”. Disney is probably the most egregious example (it’s an interesting topic to Google if you’re ever bored, how they are starting to price out the middle class.) If memory serves they’ve raised their ticket prices *twice in one year for the past couple of years, all while (I imagine) “Huhuhuhuh, that’s because I can suckers, now fork over your credit cards,” in a Mickey voice.

  20. Mark R.
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Electric toothbrush replacement heads. Ridiculously overpriced. I’ve heard ads about Quip; that might be a cheaper alternative, but haven’t looked into how much their replacement heads cost.

    • Jim Nickelson
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      My daughter pointed out they are available on Amazon significantly cheaper. Generally the same price will get you 8 to 16 versus 3.
      On Ebay you can get 20 heads for about $8 (no shipping charges), if you don’t mind waiting for a parcel from China.

      I noticed it was often cheaper to buy the rechargeable toothbrush with two heads than three replacement heads.

      I started using the old ones for cleaning, one for the bathroom grout, corners and edges, one in the garage for my lathe, the car and car parts and assorted greasy jobs. They work very well for cleaning with a bit of Simple Green. Now that I have enough rechargeable toothbrushes for all my cleaning needs (including my teeth) I just buy the heads on amazon.

      My pet peeve is fluoride rinse, contains less than a penny worth of fluoride but 500ml costs $10. I get 1L for $5 at Amazon and buy five at a time, since they keep.

      • Mark R.
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the tip. I’d been getting them at Costco, and what you quote is WAY cheaper. I also use the old ones for cleaning and for special effects on my modeling ventures.

        • Merilee
          Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          Just ordered a 12-pack of toothbrush heads from amazon. Will give half to my daughter.

          I use the old ones for general cleaning, too, including Pooch’s teeth. Just have to remember to keep the heads separate bc I’m not too crazy about liver-flavored toothpaste…

          • Simon Hayward
            Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

            Poor pooch – pre-owned toothbrushes 😦

            • Merilee
              Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

              She’s got such a hard life🙀
              Actually, she does usually start out with her own.

    • Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I bought 12 off-brand replacement heads for my Sonicare toothbrush on Amazon, and they were WAY WAY cheaper than the Sonicare brand-name heads. I was worried that they would be cheaply made, but they’re just as good as Sonicare heads. Go generic!

  21. davidintoronto
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    More importantly… is it “soda” or “pop”? I thought Chicagoans (like Canucks) preferred the “pop” moniker.


    • Roger
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Or “coke” in the eastern Midwest.

    • Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      PCC’s East coast roots are showing.

  22. Roger
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Grapes. 4 or 5 bucks for a little thingy full.

    • Bob Murray
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Is that a metric or imperial thingy?

      • Roger
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Styrofoam carton thingy!

  23. Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I guess, people are willing to pay too-high prices for drinks, so it covers the lower profit margin on food.

    I wouldn’t be so sure about the low margin on the food. Gross margins on food and drink are comparable. In the UK, they are usually between 50% and 80%. See the following episode of The Bottom Line.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b09r7rrk (from about 10 minutes on).

    What cuts into those margins are the overheads like staff costs, rent and utilities. You can’t just say “food takes preparation, but drinks don’t” because you have to pay the kitchen staff no matter what. If you have a weird evening in which 100 customers come in but they all just buy $10 worth of diet coke, you can’t not pay the kitchen staff. They turned up for work even though they didn’t have to do anything in the end.

  24. Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about The US but here in The UK razor blades are so expensive they have security tags.

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Same in the US. It’s stupid. Those things probably cost .50cents to produce- probably less.

    • David Coxill
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      I saw a leg of Lamb in a supermarket freezer it cost £15 ,and was in one of those plastic security boxes that bottles of spirits are in .

  25. nwalsh
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    52 Gillette track 2 blades are about $27.00 at Costco. Pretty well does the year.

    • dabertini
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      But are they as good as the five blades?

      • Don Mackay
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        Yes they are. I can get a month out of a twin blade, with a good Aussie soap ($A6:00). Much better value.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      I bought a huge pack of track 2s many years ago (because they were often hard to find) but they went rusty way before I used them all. But then, being a woman, I use them up much more slowly than you guys.

  26. Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    That reminded me of “Pappa Ante Portas”. Wikipedia explains some of the plot:

    ‘Heinrich Lohse is a manager at the “Deutsche Röhren AG” who increasingly tends to lose control. After ordering a 40-year supply of typewriting paper and erasers (because of quantity rebate), his boss forces him to retire. Confronted with this new situation, Lohse’s family reacts in shock. It turns out Heinrich’s wife Renate and his son Dieter were quite comfortable with the absent husband and father and do not want to see their situation disrupted. Heinrich, however, refuses to allow his career to end and immediately begins to rearrange the Lohse household based on his questionable managerial skills. This leads to a steadily increasing series of conflicts with his wife, son, and friends that get more and more bizarre. Starting out with buying a ridiculous amount of mustard to get discount […]’

  27. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Took your advice on the toothpaste front, boss. Went down to the Dollar Store, got myself a tube of Pepsodent for a buck. Now I wonder where the yellow went.

  28. Christopher
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    You know what’s not too expensive? Used books. New books are ridiculously overpriced considering how little the author gets from the sales, but used? I’m consistently surprised how many great hardback books are out there to be had for a few bucks, excepting specialist science books from university presses, which are still budget-breaking bastards. Or maybe I just buy things nobody else wants to read anymore.

    • Filippo
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Am reminded of when Garth Brooks took umbrage at his recordings being thusly re-sold. When he was at his zenith he, like other mass pop culture musical luminaries, was empowered to demand half the songwriter credit and royalties of a song written by someone else in exchange for recording it. Just because it’s a “customary business practice” doesn’t make it right.

      • Christopher
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        When someone like Girth starts whinging about how little money he gets from his recordings I am reminded of all those blues, jazz, and rock n roll musicians who were screwed out of their royalties by crooked record companies and then screwed out of their pay for gigs by crooked promoters. Too many left the business broke and broken. Rediscovery by bands like the Stones or Eric Clapton helped, but then tastes changed and the only recourse was touring Europe, where people still welcomed good music than didn’t include drum machines and the like.

  29. Susan Davies
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    $3 for a large black coffee is cheap by Australian standards. You wouldn’t get a small one, let alone a large one, in any part of Australia, for US$3, which at the moment is about AU$4.18. Where I live, small coffees start at AU$4.50. Maybe your price is a reflection of your much larger population, but it’s low to us!

    • Christopher
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      I find that Panera here in the US has decent coffee for a couple bucks and free refills, not to mention free WiFi. Much of their food is a bit overpriced but they have a nice selection of pastries to snack on. I suppose free refills is mostly a US thing, but not all coffee shops do it. And of course one can find really lousy coffee at McDonalds for $1 but even lousy coffee is better than no coffee.

  30. Martin X
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    “you don’t need that much ice to keep the drink cold”

    I do. My complaint is that most places provide too little ice.

    Keep in mind, too, that part of the cost of soda is the infinite refills you get. Still, yes, the profit margins are high. The margins on food, however, are low.

    • Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:27 am | Permalink

      The margins on food, however, are low.

      Not true. See my comment above.

  31. Simon Hayward
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Anything relating to weddings, or including the word bride seems to cost about three times more than something identical without the dedicated purpose.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 12:46 am | Permalink

      Also, anything ‘sports’ related. And anything for boats. You can immediately triple the regular price.

      Since I don’t do ‘sport’ and don’t have a boat I can regard this with smug equanimity. 😎


  32. Dionigi
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Supermarkets selling two for the price of one. Obviously they were making too much profit before the twofer sale. Shops with ridiculously high discounts 80- and 90 percent off. Ripping you off before. I was in one of my local supermarkets the other day and sale price sticker was on a product and it was 16% higher than I had paid the day before.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      And I’ll bet you weren’t even in Caracas.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 12:48 am | Permalink

      Ever heard of a ‘loss leader’?

      (That is, an item priced at below cost to attract customers).


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 12:51 am | Permalink

        For the last couple of years our supermarkets have been selling ‘dollar bread’ on their low-cost house brands. Compare that with ‘name’ brands at $3 to $5.

        It’s perfectly good bread, I always buy it and I actually like it better than the name brand loaves.


    • another fred
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      One should not mistake markup for profit. Grocery stores operate at about 2% profit on sales, at least that was the old number. It may be somewhat different today, but I doubt that it is a large difference.

      The one thing most people do not understand about retail businesses is the effect of volume on profitability. Fixed costs and uncontrollable costs are so high that the only way to survive is selling huge volumes.

      Many restaurants only make a profit on Friday and Saturday nights, and then sometimes only at certain times of the year. Kind of like retail businesses only making a profit from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

  33. Selwyn Gossett
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    I was a Wendy’s manager in 1979-80. Soda was a huge markup. The cups were one to two cents, the straw and lid one cent each, the ice a nickel and the soda between five and seven cents. The smallest soda still made 80 cents plus. But the biggest ripoff was the ice tea. It’s a big thing in the South, where I worked. The cup, lid, straw, ice (instructed to never fill more than 3/4 full, if that, and the tea itself, never amounted to more than a dime in the large size that went for a dollar. Back then, you had to ask for a refill and the soda was then overiced and never filled to the top. Not so with the tea. There was some social brake on asking for more soda among adults. Not so with the tea.
    Considering overhead and labor, they have to make it somewhere.
    Vehicle prices have ballooned.

  34. Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    College tuition at private schools. That has greatly outpaced inflation in the last fifty years.

    • Posted January 27, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      I think this is true even for public universities.

  35. Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Cable TV and Pizza by the slice

  36. chewy
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Don’t ever run a convention. A gallon of coffee/tea service will run you from $90 to $150 (Hyatt, Vancouver BC) Starbucks is a fantastic bargain in comparison.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Da-amn. Seems PT Barnum sorely underestimated the birthrate of suckers.

  37. eric
    Posted January 26, 2019 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I protest! But my recourse is simply to buy diet sodas in 2-liter bottles at the grocery store

    I cut soda out of my diet completely years ago. When I can’t stand plain water any more, I’ll go for unsweetened iced tea or flavored sparkling water (the no sugar, no sugar substitute stuff). If I’ve exercised and need sugar, I’ll go for something like lemonade.

    I’d rather save my calories for beer and ice cream. 🙂

    • Mark R.
      Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      I too relinquish caloric intake for luxuries like ice cream, beer, and burgers…cheeseburgers.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

        That makes us a trio.

  38. Posted January 26, 2019 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Anything at the Apple Store. I went in to buy an external battery for my phone. The cheapest they had was $80. Eventually I got one from Amazon for about $25.

  39. Posted January 26, 2019 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Primus, yes! The amount of ice they put into stuff is utterly ridiculous. I always ask them to leave out the ice in my drink but some places want me to pay more for that, or give me less of it. 😦

    Still, I’d rather have an undiluted drink.


  40. a-non
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    My take is that restaurants are basically in the real estate business, buying by the year and selling by the minute. (Plus labour, bought in slightly smaller increments.)

    The number you need to know is what a meal is going to cost, all up. Often there are different levels, like a one-course lunch without wine will be cheaper.

    The way this number is communicated is weird, and doubly so in the US, where the menu won’t include all sorts of mandatory charges, to the tune of 30%. But still, you can learn to convert, think of the main-course-price as being a foreign currency.

  41. bobkillian
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Hearing aids.
    Thanks, no. I’ll continue to ask “What?”

  42. littlejohn
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Cold breakfast cereal. Consider the ingredients: cheap compressed grain of some sort, sugar, and a bit of preservative. Compare the brand names to the generic or store-name equivalents, and you get an idea of how overpriced they are.

  43. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Basically all cosmetics are overpriced, as are contact lenses and glasses (I think you had a post about the frame-racket not so long ago).
    Some wines and spirits are greatly overpriced too.
    Many ‘brand’ products are overpriced, compared to the same of an unknown brand, from clothing to food. The problem is you are not always sure it is the same, has to be tested.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      A related beef involving cosmetics (of which I buy very few): Shopper’s Drug Mart is our largest drug store/pharmacy chain around these parts, and also contains one of the few mini postal stations where you can mail packages. To get to ANY section in any of the stores you have to wend your way through the several long aisles of cosmetics first, with the cosmetics salesgirls asking if you want to try this or that. Try finding a salesclerk for anything else in the store! And the postal part is way kittycorner in the back from the entrance. Off my lawn😼

  44. Posted January 27, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    As a university student, I went to sea vacations alone. I have very lousy memories of restaurants, particularly those with male waiters. Seeing a young woman apparently wishing to have a cheap meal, they repeatedly offered me drinks. I declined. Then the meal turned out saturated with salt. It is true that I like less salt than most people, but those meals were way too salty, and I am convinced the waiters added extra salt in my honor.

  45. Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    More overpriced items: page charges in scientific journals and congress registration fees.

  46. Greg Geisler
    Posted January 27, 2019 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Virtually EVERYTHING in a Pet store. Plastic bones, toys, food, you name it. I was at a local store recently and there was a regular sized jar of peanut butter—for dogs—that was $9. It was not different than any of the kind that you buy for yourself at the grocery store. Any ideas as to how I can keep my wife from going there? ;^)

  47. Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Breakfast cereal, even the so-called healthy varieties, is usually overpriced junk.

    When they are on sale, I get a huge back of steal-cut oatmeal from Costco, or puffed wheat with a bit of brown sugar. I reckon that my per bowl cost is 1/8 of that of boxed cereal.

    Also, razors are criminally overpriced, especially for hirsute/part werewolf folks like me. Using a tip from a friend, I have been sharpening my cartridge razors on an old pair of jeans, and have been using the same razor for the past two months (usually they only last about 3 weeks for me).

    • Merilee
      Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      Have your jeans survived?

      • Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        Yes. I run the blade over the jeans in the opposite direction that the blade cuts. Light pressure seems to just enough to straighten out the metal fibers in the blade. I didn’t actually think it would work, but it does!

  48. Dani
    Posted January 28, 2019 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I compeltely share the same thought!!!I’m from Brazil, and the same happens here.
    I almost never get drinks at restaurants, it’s crazy! I honestly don’t understand why people buy them…

  49. Posted January 28, 2019 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    If I recall my grade 11 economics class correctly, a large soda (to keep the terminology the same) at McDonalds which sold for $2 cost the McDonald’s 1.5 *cents* to buy the drink and 1 cent for the cup. This is somewhat as egregious as Air Jordans, the shoe popular at the time: $0.25 for materials there and maybe $0.0.1-0.02 for the Vietnamese putting it together. (It was a $199 shoe, I think.)

    (I haven’t added the wages for the server, which I forget – probably $5/hr or so, if I recall, so presumably on the order of $0.05 in a way.)

    Other overpriced items: data/bandwidth.

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