Jasmine Birtles: What a rip-off!

28 December 2018

Velcro – what a rip-off, eh? And I’ll tell you another thing that’s a complete rip-off: the 21st century. Yes that’s right – the whole of it. Not only does everything feel more expensive in this century, it actually is more expensive.

And that’s taking into account our alleged ability to shop around on the internet.

I am still reeling from news from a local radio DJ (so it must be true) that some pepperoni pizzas now include fewer slices of said spicy sausage than they used to. For goodness sake, IS NOTHING SACRED?

Apparently not. According to research by the booking app TrainPal, on average we spend an extra £31.90 every month on rip-off charges and hidden costs, adding up to almost £400 every year. Personally I think that’s a very conservative figure, particularly as it doesn’t even include the invisible rip-offs like being shortchanged on our pepperoni slices.

The app’s research finds that our top five rip-off hates are:

  1. ATMs that charge us to withdraw our own money (although, be honest, those are usually only used when drunk)
  2. Booking fees (my personal pet-hate)
  3. Train fares (where do I start?)
  4. Motorway petrol station prices (they’ve got us over a barrel…literally)
  5. TV and broadband prices that go up during the contract (showing that loyalty really doesn’t pay in this country)

But fear not, gentle reader, for I have some sneaky suggestions for getting round these fees and charges. Do send in some of your own…we’re always keen to hear of more sneaky ways to save.

“Male friends of mine are an ‘item’ just to get discounts”
  1. Book tickets on two different computers. The internet fairies watch your every keystroke and if you keep looking for the same sort of train or plane ticket two or three times they know you really want to go there. That means they will put the price up for you only. Scotch their black magic by using a different computer – or clearing your cookies – before finally booking the ticket.
  2. Love posh hotels but can’t afford a room? Go have a pot of tea in the lounge and sit around for hours. Admittedly, the tea will cost between £5 and £10 but you can usually stay as long as you like and they often give you free biscuits or mini cakes.
  3. Get on the newsletter list for every art gallery in your area. Every time they launch a new collection they hand out free bubbly and nibbles. You can eat for free a few nights a week on them!
  4. Make sure it’s your birthday every time you go out to eat. A free dessert, free drinks and possibly even a whole cake all for you could be up for grabs.
  5. Go to New York if you want to go to Manchester. Really, at certain times of the year it’s cheaper to go from Heathrow to New York to Manchester than get a return train ticket. Crazy, but them’s the days we live in.
  6. Make the most of couples discounts by having a ‘significant other’ (of any sex) to get those double deals. Male friends of mine are an ‘item’ just to get the couples discount at a local gym. Well if they’re going to discriminate against singles what’s a cool man-about-town to do?
  7. Whinge at your MP a lot. The Chancellor bunged £420 million to deal with potholes at the last Budget, and only gave £400 million more to education, because people make more fuss about potholes than they do about the state of our education system. So if enough of us spend enough time bitching about booking fees, for example, we might even get some legislation to ban them. And, let’s face it, MPs barely have anything to do nowadays. After all, it’s not like there’s some economically cataclysmic event looming ahead of us in the spring that MPs need to put at the top of their agenda. Just bother them about this and make them do some work for a change.

Let me know how you get on!