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7 Rip-offs You Need to Know About

From "germ-fighting" household cleaners to college textbooks, buyer beware.

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And that’s not all. Much of the ink in your printer doesn’t even make it to the page. According to Consumer Reports, “it's used to clean print heads and for other maintenance chores, typically when the printer is preparing to print after sitting idle for some time.”

If you don’t do a ton of printing, you might consider a slightly more expensive printer that won’t waste ink and will not break down. But if you’re going to be printing a lot, make sure you compare the cost of cartridges associated with different models. Also, if you print a lot, you may want to leave the printer on, because every time you turn it on you trigger that ink-wasting maintenance cycle.

5. Bottled water is a giant scam.

It’s become the accessory-of-choice for urbanites on the go. But here’s the reality: bottled water is expensive, wasteful and probably not any healthier than tap water.

You may feel safe thinking that bottled water in the U.S. falls under the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration. But in reality, as Chris Baskind reports, “about 70 percent of bottled water never crosses state lines for sale, making it exempt from FDA oversight.” And what is in that water? Who knows? There’s certainly no guarantee that your tap water is pristine (you can look up information on your own system here). But at least you can look up information about your water, as I did for mine, which comes from the New York City System, and see how it is treated, read what violations have occurred, and review dates for follow-up actions. Can you do that on a bottle of water? No, you can’t.

Bottled water is thought to be exacerbating climate change. It produces heaps of waste that gives off toxic fumes, and recycling possiblities are limited.

The proliferation of bottled water has also taken our focus off one of the great mainstays of public health: the construction and maintenance of safe municipal water systems.

6. Be careful choosing generics over brand-name products.

Sometimes generics are a money-saver, like prescriptions drugs, or over-the-counter medications, which are legally required to list their ingredients and adhere to the same standards as brand-name products. If you need a pain reliever, grab yourself the generic brand and save a buck.

Beyond medicines, lots of times there’s not much difference between generic and brand-name products. Often the very same item, like, Reynolds Wrap, can be found repackaged as house brands. In taste tests, consumers have a hard time telling the difference between, say, a name-brand ketchup and generic stuff. For drivers, gas is gas, so if you come across off-brand gasoline, don’t be afraid to buy it.

But generic is not always your best bet. Large chain supermarkets have started selling “second tier" brands that may be lower in quality, with names like “Kroger Value” and “Food Lion's Smart Option.” This trend is on the upswing, so expect more products to fall under this category and be sure to check ingredients and pay attention to performance. Generic paper products, like paper towels, for example, have fewer fibers and don’t absorb as well, so you may end of using more of them. Generic paint may be watered down, so watch out for that one, too.

7. Don’t be fooled by germ-fighting supplements.

Everytime I go to my gym, I see somebody fighting the war on germs, wiping down any equipment they touch with treated towelettes, and vigorously rubbing their hands. On the playground, moms and dads are continually swiping Junior with antimicrobial cleansers.