You're Getting Less Than You Think With These 6 Things

From half-empty boxes of candy to soaring airline fees, there are a lot of ways you can end up paying more for less.

Whether it's misleading labels or mountains of fees, there are a lot of ways you can end up getting less than you thought you were buying. Here are six common instances where your purchase might not measure up.

Chips in a Bag

Prepackaged Products

It's snack time. You tear open your box of Whoppers, expecting it to be packed with delicious chocolate. But to your disappointment, you find a lot of empty space. Or, according to a lawsuit against Hershey's, the box is 41% empty.

And Hershey's isn't the only brand doing this, as lawsuits across the country attest. Apparently Junior Mints boxes are 40% empty and Wise potato chip bags are up to 75% air. And let's not forget the uproar over Toblerone bars, which are 20 to 40 grams lighter than they once were, all while keeping the same price. Sometimes this comes as part of a packaging update, puffing up the product's size so you think you're getting more. But other times, it's manufacturers quietly cutting out an ounce or two of product.

Recent lawsuits allege that Whoppers and Junior Mints boxes are about 40% empty.

Oversize packages lead us to believe we're getting more than is actually in the box. It's common practice in packaged food products, cosmetics, and just about anything else sold in a box or a bag.

This empty space is called "slack-fill," and sometimes it serves a useful purpose. For example, some of that extra air in bags of chips helps protect them from being crushed. However, sometimes the packaging is designed to make us see value where it doesn't exist.

Netflix Buffering


Late last year, Netflix boosted prices on two of its streaming plans by 10% or more. That's only a dollar or two a month, but those dollars add up — especially when it seems like all of our favorite content is vanishing from the service.

Netflix dropped over 100 TV series last year, losing binge-worthy staples like 30 Rock and The X-Files. Those losses are only going to get worse as more content creators decide to launch their own streaming services, though the biggest blow to Netflix — the loss of Disney — won't be felt until next year.

SEE ALSO: 8 Things That Will Be MORE Expensive in 2018

While the shows you know are vanishing, more appear to take their place. The difference is that many of this new content is Netflix-made — and that may not be what you wanted from the service. By the end of 2017, Netflix had added over 160 new seasons of television and more than 130 new movies or specials. We can only expect to see more Netflix originals this year, as the service plans to spend $8 billion creating new original content, building a library that's half original content.

If you love all of these original shows and movies, you'll find the service to be a good value at the higher price. But if you wanted to find all your favorite shows under a single streaming banner, Netflix may no longer be the service for you.

Teen Watching TV

Cable and Satellite Services

While Netflix prices have gone up by a dollar or two a month, major cable and satellite companies are planning to add around $10 a month to their plans. On top of higher prices, subscribers may also face higher fees. This isn't the first rate hike subscribers have seen, either. Over the past decade, TV service costs have gone up nearly twice as fast as inflation.

Over the past decade, TV service costs have gone up nearly twice as fast as inflation.

So what are you getting for your extra cash? Nothing new. Cable TV providers still sell big bundles of channels you may not want, and their customer service regularly ranks among the worst out there. It's no wonder that 22 million Americans had ditched cable and satellite TV by the end of 2017.

Stressed Man Looking at Computer

Internet Service

Your internet plan is probably slower than advertised, due to the fine print on most plans that says you'll only get "up to" a certain speed — and soon you'll pay more for it. Since many services that provide cable TV also provide internet, it's no shocker that internet price hikes are coming alongside TV price increases. Subscribers should expect to pay a few extra dollars a month in 2018.

SEE ALSO: Ask the Experts: How Can I Lower My Internet Bill Even If I'm a Heavy Streamer?

The FCC's recent repeal of its net neutrality rules could also mean you get slower speeds, higher bills, or both. In plain English, the loss of net neutrality means your internet provider can throttle your internet or block access to certain sites at will. Does that sounds ridiculous? It's exactly what happens in countries that don't support net neutrality.

"In Morocco in 2016, multiple internet providers agreed to block voice over internet services, like Skype or WhatsApp, potentially in an effort to push users to subscribe to phone plans," Slate reports. "Unhappy Moroccans heavily protested the ban, which was lifted months later."

Should the FCC's repeal survive the courts, you may soon find your ISP charging an extra $5 to access social media sites, another $5 to access Netflix... well, you get the idea.

Catching a Flight

Airline Flights

Surprise! Airline prices are probably going up again. The culprit is higher fuel prices, with airlines reporting they're spending from 8% to 27% more on fuel-related expenses. You can bet those costs will eventually find their way into ticket prices.

On top of potentially higher base ticket prices, airlines continue to pile on fees. As such, the final price for a ticket can be much higher than you'd expect. A study of airlines' ancillary revenue — that's business speak for all those fees — shows that Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier Airlines each made almost $50 worth of ancillary revenue per passenger in 2016.

Both United and American no longer include a carry-on bag in their basic fares. There's also an extra cost if your 'personal item' doesn't fit under the seat.

That data came before major airlines started adding fees for carry-on bags. Both United and American no longer include a carry-on bag in their basic fares. And with that "budget-friendly" fare comes a new fee: an extra price if your "personal item" doesn't fit under the seat and has to be checked. (Be warned: Middle seats typically have less room for under-seat carry-ons, which could lead to this surprise fee.)

Seats have been shrinking, too, as airlines look to make room for more passengers on each plane. On major American airlines, pitch — the distance from one point on a seat to the same point on a seat in the next row — can be as little as 28", while seat width runs around 17". That's compared to a 31" minimum seat pitch and 19" width in the '90s.

In fact, airline aisles have gotten so narrow that federal judges ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to review seat spacing on planes because it could be a safety hazard.

Couple Looking at Bills

Insurance of All Kinds

Insurance companies make their money by charging you more than they're likely to pay you in services. For health insurance, monthly payments are on the rise, particularly for people buying without the help of an employer, whose premiums are up by as much as 50%.

Employer-sponsored plans saw a relatively modest average increase of 3% — but that's a cost boost nevertheless. Deductibles are also rising, with the average employer-sponsored health plan deductible shooting up by nearly 400% since 2006. In short, you're paying more every month and more if you have a medical emergency.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You CAN Shop Around and Haggle for Medical Procedures

But health insurance isn't the only pricey premium you could be paying. Homeowners insurance premiums increased by 50% in the past decade, while car insurance premiums have increased by 21.5% since 2012. Worse, last year's glut of natural disasters may push premiums for homes and cars up even higher. You could opt for higher deductible plans to save on your monthly payment, but that only means you'll get less cash if you need it.

Then there's the fine print in insurance contracts. If you haven't read it carefully, you may find yourself stuck with big surprise bills that you expected your insurance company to cover.

Consider an ambulance ride. In 2014 26% of those rides were billed as out-of-network, and patients could be billed more than $8,000 for the trip. And while big bills are common in medical emergencies, homeowners hit by last year's hurricanes have been in trouble, too. Out-of-pocket expenses for Hurricane Harvey alone are estimated at $28 billion.

Readers, what other items and services have given you less than you'd expect? Share your examples in the comments below!

Elizabeth Harper
Contributing Writer

Originally working in IT, Elizabeth now writes on tech, gaming, and general consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Time, AOL, PriceGrabber, and more. She has been one of DealNews' most regular contributors since 2013, researching everything from vacuums to renters insurance to help consumers.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


Leave a comment!

or Register
"I'm from the UK where a pint is a pint, in the USA, it's only about 3/4 of a pint."

But this isn't deceit; they're just different measurements. Just like the old British 'proof' and contemporary US 'proof' measurements are different. A liquid pint in the UK is about 570mL. In the US, it's about 475mL. Both pints are 1/8th of their respective gallons, but an Imperial gallon and a US gallon are not the same (nor have they been since the early 1800s). And in other places -- such as continental Europe, or in Asia where I live -- ordering a pint of beer will get you a 500mL glass. In New Zealand and even parts of Australia, you'll get 425mL. So 'pint' is just a word fraught with difference, but I don't think it's corporations trying to fool people.
I could be wrong, but Americans have been fooled by corporations for years. I'm from the UK where a pint is a pint, in the USA, it's only about 3/4 of a pint.
I think Netflix is straight killing it lately. I was saddened to hear that Google stopped its Fiber expansion route in my area, but I am kind of interested in seeing Elon Musk's vision of global affordable internet through Starlink.
I think you need to add toilet paper to the listing. All of the packaging nonsense about 12, 16, or even 24 "rolls" in a package that has no more than eight rolls? WTF???
Negative negative NEGATive negative negative
Really? Trotting out net "neutrality" again?
The fact that you can sue for something with a clear label on it which you are not forced to buy is ridiculous. Don't buy and that's the end of the story.
Cable TV has about 15 years before it is no more. Not because of service or quality of programming (but it could be a lot better) but because kids simply do not watch TV anymore. They play games and they watch YouTube.

No one will go to the movies in 15 years either. I have talked to a number of people who have gone recently and the same topic keeps on coming up. They want to know why they have to sit through 15 minutes of ads before a movie that they paid $12 to see? I agree.
Yep, get less, pay more is the new normal for everything. Makes you wonder at this pace, what will it be like in 10 years, 20 years. Does it all collapse at some point?

I work in medical insurance and see those ambulance bills mentioned. I also see all those hospital bills, it boggles my mind when I see them and what it costs to use those services. People watch and love greys anatomy to see all the good done for people and great story drama, but there is a dark side to every story that they don't want you to know.

Satellite/cable Services - Another area waiting to implode on itself. Charging between $100-$200 a month to watch some TV won't last forever. Either the companies allow ala carte for people or stop giving in to sports entities insane fees and others to pass on to the subscriber.

Better not to think on all this to long or I'll get angry or depressed.
Tomato.....tomahto. Madison avenue has been picking our pockets for generations. DeBeers is a prime example. How many useless items do we have that were bought on impulse. As a boomer the saying heard over and over as a child was "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without". Tell that to a Millennial who just bought the latest phone or tablet.

The real "scam" is that by reducing quantity and not raising prices, the govt inflation index remains artificially low, therefor causing the lower than needed increase in wages.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)

Oooooohhhh interesting theory! I generally consider the "premium" TP to be a scam because it's so fluffy that you don't notice there's barely any there. (And I of course use the word "scam" in jest... mostly haha.)
Not only is there air in the chip bags and less candy in the box, have you noticed less paper and smaller squares on the roll ?