10 Outrageous Markups You’d Never Guess You Were Paying

Sticker shocker: You might not think much about how products are priced, but we did the math to calculate how much you're spending.

From AOL's walletpop.com with additional reporting by Usha Sahay and Perri O. Blumberg
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    1. Text messages: 6,000% markup

    Phone users commonly pay 10 cents per text message, but sending the message only costs the carrier a sixth of a cent. If the phone company applied text-message mark-up to a short phone call, you’d pay $120 for the call.

    2. Movie theater popcorn: 1,275% markup

    Theaters know that viewers will pay more for movie snacks, so they hike the prices up: A bag of popcorn that costs 37 cents to make can easily sell for $5. One man in Michigan found the price so outrageous that he's suing his local theater.


    3. Brand-name drugs: 200 to 3,000% markup

    You may feel more comfortable buying brand-name medicines, but know what you're paying for: A bottle of Advil may run for $10, compared to just $2 for generic painkillers that are just as effective.


    4. Coffee on the go: 300% markup.

    A $2 cup made by a barista would cost just 50 cents to brew at home.

    5. Greeting cards: 200% markup

    When you buy a greeting card from a drugstore, chances are you're paying at least three times what it cost the company to make. Hello, free e-cards! Or get crafty with the crayons.

    6. Bottled water: 4000% markup

    A $2 water bottle costs the manufacturer only about 5 cents to make.

    7. Wine at a restaurant: 300% markup

    Restaurants routinely charge as much as $30 for bottles of wine that retail online for $7 or $8. Check if the restaurant allows BYOB in advance, or opt for a non-alcoholic beverage.

    8. Hotel minibar: 400% markup

    The convenience of the mini-fridge comes at a cost. A simple candy bar, bag of chips, or can of soda can cost $5 or $10 in your hotel room, so stock up on snacks at a local drugstore for much less before you check in.

    9. In-room hotel movies: 200% markup

    Renting a movie usually costs a few dollars at most, but do it through your hotel and you'll easily pay $10 or $15.

    10. Precut produce: 40% markup

    Precut fruits and vegetables save you time, but definitely not money: The grocery store charges almost 1.5 times more than for uncut produce.


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    Your Comments

    • Dave Edmond

      When a government contractor is paid to build a new widget and the technical people are paid, say, $50 per hour – the Government typically pays FOR EACH HOUR:
      $50 Actual Employee Salary
      $80 Company Overhead Expenses (approx. 160%)
      $26 Company General & Admin. Expenses (appox. 20% of $130)
      $ 5 Interest on 90-day delayed payment
      $13 Fee (about 8% of the total above)
      $174 (the original $50 plus 250%)

    • Ctrygrl

      I would never buy it certainly but if it will induce people to actually cook with fresh produce I am all for it. If you only need a little bit of something – like 1/4 of a red pepper, or a slice of red onion and don’t want to buy the whole thing, try the in store salad bar, also if you just want some spinach or salad greens the salad bar is usually a better bargain than the bagged stuff.

    • CathyGo

      The mark up on some name brand drugs is to cover all the money that went into the development, research, testing, and jumping through all the governmental hoops. The generic version didn’t have all those expenses to cover.

      • John

        well that’s not even slightly true. aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, caffeine tablets all have massive markets for named brands compared to generics whilst none of them obviously went through any of that.

    • zzz05

      you can lower the markup on hotel minibars by telling the clerk you didn’t consume them and and on hotel movie pay per views by saying the thing didn’t work. they never argue with you. I’m not saying you should, i’m just saying you can.

    • MizzDjinn

      The dude is suing his theater? Theaters make nothing or next to nothing (if they’re lucky) on ticket sales – their main source of income is concessions.

    • Sum1udono

      popcorn machines cost hundreds of dollars to replace if the popcorn is priced too cheaply.