How To Avoid Being Ripped Off

I was ripped off once. Claudia and I were on holiday in Mexico just after the swine flu hit and there were absolutely bugger all tourists. We were on a tour (with one other person) to the Teotihuacan Pyramids when we stopped at a shop selling local crafts. I was conned into buying a small statue of the sun god for a measly $300, which, as it is the fertility god, I thought it would make a nice wedding gift for Claudia.


When we arrived at the pyramids there were a bunch of locals selling similar statues for the equivalent of about $20, and I felt like a real knobhead. I justified it by saying to myself that it was only $300 (although it was about 30 billion pesos) and that the locals were really struggling with the tourism industry in tatters. And when Claudia became pregnant with our little chicken, I figured ol’ sun god had done his job.


Getting ripped off is possible without travelling to a developing country. There are plenty of people ripping others off here in Australia and lots of Americans and Brits who are selling crap to us as well. A few of them advertise their wares on Facebook.


I saw an ad on FB the other day and was intrigued what the “strange trick” was used by the 54 year old man to slash his “electric bill by 75%”. Clicking on the ad directs you to a video that spruiks a system of making your own solar panels and wind turbines for only a couple of hundred dollars. “Hmm, connecting my home to the power grid myself might be a little bit dangerous for a guy who swears changing light bulbs,” I thought.


Turns out I’m right, or at least that’s what the insurance companies think. Perform your own electrical work that should only be done by a licensed sparky in the ACT and you void your home insurance policy. I imagine it’s similar in the other states.


The product being sold by the FB advertiser – is a pack of DVDs showing how to build and install your own power system. But wait, there’s more! If you sign up faster than you can google ‘power4home scam’ they’ll throw in 3 free books. At least, they say they will.


Before you click on the Add To Cart button and blow your $50, even if you’re convinced that the product you are looking at is genuine, google the name of the company and watch what the auto-complete spits out. In Power4Home’s case, the second auto-complete is ‘Power4Home scam’. Among the many sites where people have complained about not receiving what they had paid for are a couple that back the system. and a couple of top YouTube hits reek of the company itself setting up pages that say the system is not a scam to divert suspicious customers back to their product.


There would be few people who would complain to the authorities if the rip off that has caught them out has only cost them a couple of hundred bucks or less. But people will definitely vent their rage on internet forums. So before you take on face value statements like power4home’s “I’m going to spit in the face of all the thieves, crooks and liars who have been sucking cash out of your pocket” do the tiniest bit of research to see for yourself if you are at risk of being ripped off.


Ps Claudia still thinks the story of the sun god statue is funny.

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