24 Dirty Business Tactics That You May Not Know Exist

We all know that Wall Street gets up to some pretty shady business, but what about other industries?

A recent Reddit AMA asked people what dirty tricks were common in their industry, and commenters served up a filthy feast.

From construction cons to salary scams, from food fraud to timeshare tricks, here are 24 dirty little industry secrets.

“I worked very briefly at an asphalt/paving company. It is apparently pretty standard practice for municipal construction projects (road building, bridges, highway repair, etc) to intentionally take a long time at the start of big projects. It works like this: It’s the beginning of construction season and your company is dirt poor. Bid on a huge job that you don’t have the materials for. When you put up the “road under construction” signage, you receive a percentage of the payment in advance of actual work. Use that money to buy the materials for several smaller (and higher profit) jobs. A month later, you finally have enough money to buy the materials for the big government contract that you’ve supposedly been working on all along. This is why you’ll often see road closures that seem to go on for way longer than makes sense.” (LemurianLemurLad)

“Not sure if this is an industry practice, but a very popular online retail company in my country has no in-house web designers or any other IT staff beyond your generic networking techs. Any time their website or backend systems need work, they simply advertise a permanent position and give the job of sorting out whatever they need doing as a “trial” for the candidate. Once completed, they then inform them that the position is no longer available and send them on their way. They’ve been doing this for years.” (co0p3r)

“Texting service actually requires NO extra infrastructure on your phone or on the network. The size of the text message is limited by the amount of carrier signal that your phone sends out normally every few seconds to notify the tower where it is, what time it is, etc. so that the network can keep your call live. That you pay extra money for texting is pure profit for the phone company. They have never added any bandwidth for texting, it’s always been there as the normal maintenance of the network.” (2006diplomat)

“As a pilot, I discovered that some low-cost airline companies will set the humidity on the AC to a lower value than normal, to just the minimum legal value, to make you more thirsty and more likely to buy drinks or water at their absurdly high prices.” (Wings_008)

“Remember when you played that Escape the Room game that one time and you got “so close” to escape, but just barely ran out of time? Yeah, virtually every team gets to that point; the game pacing and structure is almost certainly designed that way unless you are playing one of the really competitive “official” franchise escape games. The problem is that escape room players almost always report that they had positive experiences if they think that they just barely missed out on success, even if the game itself wasn’t very good, so most companies (especially independent ones) require their “In-Room Technicians” to ensure that players reach a certain point in the game, either through hinting or suggestions, or sometimes even altering/removing puzzles altogether. An in-room technician who is good at their job will be able to help out in a way that makes it seem like it was the players who figured it all out when in reality they did virtually nothing. Unless you are a truly terrible team, or really annoying and pushy, you are almost guaranteed to “just barely” miss out on escaping. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a bad thing, but after working in escape games for about a three months I realized how truly artificial the majority of the experience is.” (Bufus)


“Ex-Panera Bread employee here. EVERYTHING is microwaved, all soups and pasta come in frozen bags, reheated for the customer. pastries and bread come in “half-baked”, bakers just slap on some frosting/fruit and heat it up. It’s all fast-food quality food, but with a good reputation. Plus, it was terrible to work there.” (cassini21)


“I know a guy who does pest control who specializes in raccoon removal. He takes the raccoons from one house in one neighborhood, then takes and releases it in another neighborhood then waits for the people there to reach out to him to remove the raccoon from their home.” (icarusOW)

“People lie about salary, starting pay, raises, etc. all the time. Learn to play hardball. My office had a lock-down on raises over 3% and going into an annual review I learned that my boss had lied and under paid me for the starting position (He claimed they had a $60k budget for the position and couldn’t exceed it. I found out the last person in the job got paid $75k). So I got an offer from a competitor for over double my current pay, knew they couldn’t afford to lose me with the amount of work coming in, and slid my offer letter over to my boss during the review. They matched the offer, gave me a $10,000 bonus up front, and even cut me into a percentage of a business line. The meeting was awkward as hell, and it was difficult to do, but it’s business.” (moderate_extremist)

“When my grandmother was in the hospital, her landscaper and handyman both contacted me to tell me she hadn’t paid them and they’d been trying to reach her and on and on. I’d already paid both bills from her account and when I questioned them, they remembered real quick.” (mymusekilleditself)

“In France, it’s hard to fire or lay off people, so when big companies need to clean house a bit, they move the office to a new location quite distant from the current one. In the process, they reduce the office size from 50,000 seats to 30,000 because they’ve estimated that amount of people will resign rather than endure a 4 hours commute… But officially “totally you still have your job if you want, we are not laying you off, but I need you in the office every day… Or you could resign if you don’t like the new location…” Nestle did that and apparently, it’s fairly common now for multinationals around Paris.” (CTRL_ALT_DELTRON3030)

“In Nova Scotia, Canada, severance pay is paid on the average of your last 30 days of pay. This means that some companies will actually reduce your hours to a minimum for your last month with them if they are going to lay you off. Happened to my wife. She worked for this company for 5 years, worked 35+ hours per week, suddenly she wasn’t getting shifts. BOOM, layoff notice. Happened to other folks too. (Mode1961)

“When I was in the process of moving into my current home I transferred the title of my old home and land to my sister because she was buying it and moving in when I left. Within the next few weeks, she started getting all the “welcome to the neighborhood” coupons and flyers. She didn’t even change her address, so I assume companies track title changes with the register of deeds. The sketchiest was a pest control company claiming to have an existing account on the property and recommending she continue to use their services. They detailed dates and changes; referenced termites. It was all lies. All the dates shown were while I owned the property and I never even heard of this company before she received that letter.” (fathqua)


“An older fellow I know had a bodega and he’d put a can of cream corn on the counter by the register. This was some time ago, so the can had a price tag of $.17. He sold that can of cream corn to everyone who bought anything there. If they realized they were paying too much he’d just say he thought that was their can of corn. Most people didn’t notice though and he sold that same can of cream corn maybe twenty times a day.” (Kingtycoon)

“Many companies claim to be environmentally friendly by putting made-up certifications on their products. Like a frog in a circle that says “rainforest-friendly.” There are very few legitimate environmental certifications. It’s called “greenwashing.” (Too_Much_Prego)

“A locksmith I knew would rekey locks using old, worn-down pins, which caused the locks to stop working prematurely- without the pins being crisp, eventually the lock jams or the key quits working. He would then await the inevitable call to replace them, rekey them with good pins, and be good to go. You could make an extra $65 per customer this way. We never did (I’m certified as a Master Locksmith, NLA and ALOA) but we repaired a lot of locks this charlatan “fixed”. We complained to the NLA and ALOA and got his bond status revoked.” (Flaxmoore)


“A locksmith I knew would rekey locks using old, worn-down pins, which caused the locks to stop working prematurely- without the pins being crisp, eventually the lock jams or the key quits working. He would then await the inevitable call to replace them, rekey them with good pins, and be good to go. You could make an extra $65 per customer this way. We never did (I’m certified as a Master Locksmith, NLA and ALOA) but we repaired a lot of locks this charlatan “fixed”. We complained to the NLA and ALOA and got his bond status revoked.” (Flaxmoore)


“I was a waitress at a family-owned restaurant that paid me $0.10 more than the minimum wage. They were able to require me to turn over all tips that I never saw again because they paid me over minimum wage. I think this is technically legal, but sleazy nonetheless. I made really great tips, and it was hard turning the money over. It’s also pretty deceptive to the customer, who thinks their money is going to the wait staff, not the restaurant.” (HoosierHasBeen)


“When I worked at H&M we used to do some sneaky stuff with setting up the mannequins/displays. Whenever we had a supply of shirts that were really ugly and weren’t selling well. We’d put the ugly item on the mannequin, and it would sell out very quickly. This isn’t necessarily the dirtiest trick, but it worked pretty well for pushing really ugly clothes.” (ThirdAmbiguousColor)


“I worked at a Caribou Coffee and our manager insisted we guilt people into buying the pink Komen for the Kure coffee beans by suggesting they didn’t care about cancer victims. It was pretty distasteful. I saw him ask multiple people if anyone in their family had cancer. It was inappropriate on several levels.” (brusifur)

“Using a previous salary against you. “Oh, you make $40,000? Well, we’ll offer you $50,000. That’s a 25% increase in pay!” Your salary shouldn’t be relative, it should be what the market value of the position is. If a job pays $75,000, don’t pay me only $50,000 because I only currently make $40,000.” (BoilerMaker11)

“Half of the so claimed ‘services’ they offer at Jiffy Lube never get completed. The store’s hours distributed for employees are directly affected by ‘average ticket sales’, which means (at least when I was a store manager at one) that if we didn’t have an average of $65+ at the end of the day per car, then we got written up. Jiffy Lube is a dirty, evil company that takes advantage of people, and that’s why I left to take a lower position elsewhere. Even though I made less money, I knew I wouldn’t be selling people things they didn’t need. Felt good quitting that place.’ (jmhoneycutt8)

“If you get in a car accident, and your insurance tries telling you that you have to or that you should take your car to a specific repair facility to get repaired, tell them to go fist themselves. You have no obligation to any insurance company or repair facility. You can take your car to any body shop you like to have the repairs done, and it’s against the law for insurance companies to tell you that you can’t. However, they often use tricky wording to make you feel like you have no say. Especially if you’re a woman.” (GingaSnapzzz)

“Not in the casino industry but I am in the fire service and we learn things like this. Casinos will pump an extra 1% of oxygen into the air to make you more alert and give you more energy which allows you to stay there longer and spend more money. It’s also the reason casino fires can be so catastrophic.” (MetikMas)

“I work in the trucking industry and it’s frightening how much food product is sold and resold after being rejected. Had a customer have a load of cheese refused because it was too warm, but took it back to another warehouse, cooled it down and resold it to another customer. I have seen it done with cheese, juice, meat, and seafood.” (annoyingone)


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