Worst Marketing Scams Designed To Trick American Consumers

According to the FBI, the hallmarks of mass marketing fraud are:

  • Offers appear “too good to be true.”
  • Payments for goods or services are required in advance.
  • Personal information is requested over the telephone.
  • Offers are unsolicited.
  • Representatives use high pressure sales techniques, claiming that immediate action is required.

Reddit user conradjenn asked:

“What is the worst marketing scam perpetrated upon the American consumer?”

Low Fat

“Two decades of ‘low fat’ diet foods that were all packed to the brim with sugar.”

“I think my lightbulb moment as a kid was watching my mom snack on marshmallows because they were fat free.”

~ loki8481

Serving Size

“Let’s not forget 0g sugar Tic Tacs made of 100% sugar!”

“Serving size is 1. One Tic Tac is 0.49 grams.”

“Because if it was 0.5 grams, they would be forced to be honest, so it’s 0.49.”

~ sapphicsandwich

“Serving sizes are one of the most infuriating things about US food labels.”

“Coming from an EU country and being used to everything being labeled in ‘per 100 gram’ increments, it’s a bit of a nightmare to get used to how deceptive and arbitrary some serving sizes are made to be.”

“With Tic Tacs specifically though, at least 1 Tic Tac is only like 2k cal. A standard box has what, like 40 in it?”

“Even if you swallow down 40 in one go, that’s only half a can of soda’s worth of sugar calories—still sugar of course, not saying it’s good for you.”

“But yeah, saying it has 0g sugar per serving is still horrendously deceptive.”

~ Incoherrant


“‘Organic’ aluminum foil. I really want to know how they managed to make a base element ‘organic’.”

~ atelopuslimosus

“Organic food as well. Waste of money and it promotes science illiteracy.”

“It’s so pervasive now that people will actively get angry with you if you question it. GMOs are one of the most studied topics there is yet we allow ourselves to be marketed to in a way that makes us feel like we’re being negligent if we don’t spend more for ‘organic’.”

~ moonmangggg

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in f*cking EVERYTHING.”

~ MolaMolaMania

As an American, I didn’t travel abroad until I was in my mid-20s, and the lack of sweeteners in everything was pretty stark. Our f*cking hotdog buns would be labeled a dessert in some countries.”

~ iiamthepalmtree

“What’s weird is a lot of that unnecessarily sweet stuff doesn’t even taste good. And I do enjoy sweets, but sweet cornbread, sweet hot dog buns, etc… all that crap just throws off my taste buds.”

“If I actually want to eat something sweet I’d rather just wait until after the meal and then have some dessert.”

~ Dick_Lazer

“HFCS is only bad because it is sugar. Sugar is bad when eaten in excess. All carbs are bad in excess.”

“HFCS is essentially identical to suger in every meaningful way.”

“The reason I speak up on this is that people avoid HFCS and eat sugar instead – which accomplishes absolutely nothing.”

~ gymnastgrrl

“So many people see sugar instead of HFCS and think they are being healthy. No! It’s all sugar and filled with calories that lack true nourishment.”

“I swear it’s all a ploy to let everything get ‘NO HFCS’ stamped on it to get their product bought vs. a different product that doesn’t say that.”

~ geccles


“Timeshares are up there.”

“Even worse are the guys who claim they can get you OUT of them. Those guys are often bigger rip off artists.”

~ MetalTrek1

“I have been BEGGING my parents to put in their will that I do not want their timeshare.”

“I don’t even know how it’s f**king legal for it to just automatically go to the next of kin.”

~ cerpintaxt33

That’s crazy to me that you can be given something that you don’t want, and you just have to accept it. Imagine if I could die and then give my neighbor my outstanding debts.”

~ Invoqwer

“You have to refuse a timeshare inheritance explicitly, or it becomes yours to deal with, including the mandatory fees.”

“‘Do not put off dealing with an inherited timeshare. You only have a certain amount of time to refuse a timeshare property. If you are planning on refusing, it’s important that you do not use or rent out the timeshare after the owner’s death, or you risk giving up your right to refuse the inheritance’. – trust & will

~ i_hate_sh*tposting

American Medical Fees

American Hospital billing. The minute you ask for an itemized receipt and breakdown, they start removing charges left and right and the bill gets reduced by ~30%.”

~ Girl_Princess

“I got the first COVID vaccine, the one I had to wait for six months for access to, which was allegedly guaranteed to be covered by the taxes already collected by our government. The company distributing the vaccine still collected everyone’s insurance information, and when I asked why, they told me it was for informational purposes only.”

“Later, I got a bill in the mail for the vaccine. I called my insurance company, and they confirmed they received a claim for that vaccine, which they partially paid, so the bill I received was an attempt to collect twice. Maybe three times if the government already paid this company.”

“When I called and escalated the question up the chain, I was told ‘oh, you shouldn’t have gotten that bill, it was a mistake, our system sometimes does that’, and they removed the charge.”

“The opportunistic multiple billing in the United States healthcare industry is disgustingly rampant.”

~ LurkmasterP

Antivirus Software


“Click here to install another one.”

~ thenewmadmax

“My wife installed an anti-virus on her laptop that was recommended by one of her friends. That thing is more invasive and difficult to get rid of than most malware or trojans I’ve dealt with.”

“It kicked her out of her games or insisted on reboots all the time. It would start up on restarts even after removing it from the boot up list.”

“Eventually had to go into safe mode to get rid of it, and even that was a fight.”

~ handandfoot8099

“I worked in a lab and had a computer that ran several of my lab instruments. This computer wasn’t connected to the network but the powers that be said that all of our computers needed anti-virus.”

“So they sent someone into the lab with a USB key to install McAfee.”

“When it restarted, the software for running my machines was borked. I forget how long it took to get the lab running again, but it was a freaking nightmare.”

~ chemicalgeekery

McAfee publicly stated he would not install his own product.”

~ ObamasBoss


That diamonds are rare and you must have one.”

~ Electronic-Pool-7458

“I love that my wife just likes to replace her glass engagement ring for $50 every 5 or 6 years.”

“Gets lost, who cares? Mortgage, paid.”

~ 1991195

Lab grown gems are great.”

“The jewelry industry seems to be doing a good job of hiding the fact that lab-grown gems are actually real diamonds, sapphires, etc…”

“Identical chemical composition and crystal structure.”

~ FiyeroTigelaar895

Tax Prep


“The IRS already has all your tax information—your work and investments are required to send it to them. Other countries just have their IRS equivalent send you information that you can correct or contest if you like.”

“But in the US, massive tax filing software companies spend millions of dollars lobbying Congress to prevent an easier tax filing system which affects every single American citizen over 18 every single year.”

~ Worried_Place_917

“Commercial Tax preparation software is a straight up scam.”

~ pippypoopenpopper

Payday Loans & Check Cashing

Payday loan companies.”

~ laynerj

“Related: check cashing companies. We could gut both of those exploitative industries with having simple bank accounts available at the USPS like a lot of other countries do.”

“You can already get money orders through them.”

~ counterfitster

That’s not a scam. It’s completely transparent. They’re just openly taking advantage of vulnerable people.”

~ lol_camis

Health Insurance

Health Insurance. You pay for it. Then when you use it, nothing is covered, or it covers only a portion plus deductibles/copayments.”

~ pujarteago1

“Literally just tried to change my Primary Care Physician to the doctor I’ve had for 10+ years that I was told accepted my new insurance. ‘Oh wait, sorry they’re full and can’t accept you as a patient’.”

“I see them every three months I have a standing appointment for Wednesday… it makes no sense.”

“The US healthcare system is an entire joke and our government’s refusal to address it is a failure on an epic level.”

~ Joessandwich

It’s more than that. The public is convinced that any other systems would have them paying for other people’s medical appointments.”

~ Jarocket

“They already do. That’s how health insurance works.”

~ Strawmonster2

Signing On The Dotted Line

“Telling you that ‘you signed it, you’re f**ked’ in many situations.”

“Unenforceable and illegal clauses exist. If something smells fishy, you should look into it.”

“If it’s housing-related, there may be advocacy groups to help you out, hell a lot of lawyers will advise you (advise, but not represent in any capacity) as part of their pro-bono work on Landlord-Tenant.”

~ juanzy

“The issue with 99.99% of all legal issues is not what the actual law is, it’s the fact that most people don’t have the time and resources to actually get the law involved.”

“This is especially true for housing. A huge amount of landlords in every city break housing laws as a standard business practice. But it doesn’t matter because they rent to lower income people who dont have the resources or time to fight it.”

“And if you’re someone who is struggling, you often don’t have the time or the ability to even reach out to the free legal aid programs that can help with this stuff.”

“I know people who have worked such programs and they are like ‘look the tenant is 100% correct and the landlord is breaking the law, so are we going to spend months arguing with this landlord while the tenant is homeless? Or are we going to just find them another place to live immediately?’.”

“Desperate people literally have no functional recourse against slum lords. Even…

Read More: Worst Marketing Scams Designed To Trick American Consumers

2024-02-23 14:33:53

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