The top 20 rip-offs of all time

MoneyBirthday cards, takeaway pizza and train tickets are among our most hated rip-offs.

Paying full price for a train ticket when the journey is delayed and you have to stand up the whole way in a hot stuffy carriage is not only my idea of hell but also a total rip-off.

Of course there are ways to avoid paying these costs, but if you've got to get somewhere urgently, without prior-warning, there's little option but to cough up for the over-priced ticket.
This is just one of the many rip-offs we all experience, but do things like paying out more than £10 to go to the cinema really annoy everyone else as much as it riles me?

Well, to answer the question Docmail, a print and post specialist, asked 2,000 people what they consider to be the biggest financial rip-offs. And while surveys like this need to be taken with a large pinch of salt, the results make for interesting reading.
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Top rip-offs
Unsurprisingly, petrol, travel and food were all high up on the list. However, the single most annoying thing we get ripped-off by is paying an average of £3 for a birthday card. Paying for birthday presents at work also frustrates us with one in four people resenting work whiprounds.

We also rate takeaway pizzas, stamps and the price of alcohol in pubs as exceptionally poor value for money along with men's jeans and printer cartridges.

Days out are also over-priced with premiership football matches for £45 and theme park tickets for £43 giving us another reason to complain.

In fact. out of everything we spend money on, only four in ten items proves to be value for money.

Good value for money
It's not all bad news though and on the other end of the scale, sixteen parecetamol tablets for 19p was first in the best value for money items, with four pints of milk for £1.18 and a kettle for £22 coming in second and third respectively.

Apparently we're also happy paying 69p for an iPhone app and £18 monthly broadband contract but what we hate most is paying for water and household essentials like gas and electricity.

How to avoid getting ripped-off
Some essentials, such as electricity and gas bills, are unavoidable. And although there are ways to lower your costs, such as switching providers and choosing direct debit payments, you can't get away with avoiding these altogether.

However, for non-essential items, there are numerous ways to cut costs, from shopping around and finding a cheaper provider, to using modern technology to get a discount.

The key is being organised and well informed and using tips such as online videos and apps to save you money. Companies rely on apathy to rip-off their customers but by putting in a little extra time to research the market first, you can lower the risk of being ripped-off.

The top 20 rip-offs of all time

1. Birthday card – £3
2. Standard anytime return Bristol Temple Meads – London Paddington train ticket – £179
3. 30p toilet fee at a train station
4. Large takeaway pizza – £16.99
5. Two printer cartridges – £44
6. Theme Park ticket – £43.50
7. Medium glass of white wine purchased in pub – £5
8. Pair of men's jeans – £40
9. Videogame for console – £45
10. Monthly cable television subscription – £48
11. Premiership football ticket – £45
12. Second class stamp - 50p
13. 3D Cinema ticket – £11.85 (inc. glasses)
14. Prescription charge – £7.65
15. First class stamp – 60p
16. One litre of petrol – £1.30
17. A pack of four razor blades – £8
18. Four toilet rolls – £2.38
19. Ladies haircut – £35
20. Pint of beer purchased in pub – £3.50
Do you agree with this list? Are there other things which are more of a rip-off? Let me know in the comment box below.

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10 of the biggest consumer rip-offs
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The top 20 rip-offs of all time

Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.

To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.

At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.

It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.

With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.

No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.

Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.

Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.

While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.

Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.

However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
To avoid paying over the odds, it is also worth checking the price per kilo to ensure that larger 'economy' packs really are cheaper than the smaller versions.

Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.

However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.

Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.

Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.
Before signing up, it is therefore essential to check that you will make use of enough of the benefits, and that you cannot get them for less elsewhere.

Overseas money transfers or travel money purchases attract the same high rate of interest as credit card cash withdrawals.

Worse still, most credit cards – and debit cards – also charge you a foreign loading fee if you use them to make purchases while abroad.
You can, however, avoid these charges by using a Saga Platinum or Nationwide Building Society credit card.

Numbers starting 0871 cost 10p or more from a landline, while those starting 09 can cost more than £1 a minute from a mobile phone.

And the operators of these high-cost phone lines, some of which are banks, often get a cut of the call charges.
Most 09 numbers are linked to scams and should therefore be avoided at all costs, while 0871 numbers can often be bypassed by searching for an alternative local rate numbers on the saynoto0870.com.
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