Sadly, there are a lot of industries and practices out there that aren’t as ethical as one would hope. Little did we know that some of these shady industries are hiding right under our very noses. These people share which businesses aren’t exactly the best bang for your buck.
#1 Razor-Thin Margins
Trucking. The margins are razor-thin and so everyone is trying to nickel and dime each other constantly. The drivers lie to their dispatchers, the dispatchers lie to the brokers, and the brokers lie to the clients. All of this happens all the time for approximately $50-100 sometimes. It’s pretty crazy to think about.
#2 Stomach the Lying
I used to be a broker, but couldn't stomach the lying. The guy I trained under-treated drivers like trash. For instance, he'd lie to them about having appointments and give them the run around when they eventually figured it out. I'd be the one to take the calls and had to pretend there was some big mix up, or blame the consignee, just keep spinning some complete stuff all day long. I did it sometimes for a few days while the drivers just sat in a parking lot.
Want compensation for your time? Read the fine print, schmuck The thing you signed says no detention, no layover. They'd have to keep calling back for a week sometimes while I pretended like he was out to lunch until he finally answered. Then it was just this 30-minute long argument, which inevitably ended in them getting shortchanged. He'd then act like he was doing them a big favor paying below industry-standard detention.
That money wasn't even coming out of his pocket. He'd turn around and ask the customer for more money because he had "to do right by his drivers.” They'd give him the standard rate and he'd pocket the difference. That guy easily makes somewhere around $300,000 a year. It blew my mind when all of this started coming to light.
#3 Make Your Choice
Health insurance. In the commercials, it’s all about caring for your health and stuff. But if you ever get a serious illness, they’ll do anything to avoid paying for your treatment. My mother got breast cancer and her health insurance made a business decision to let her pass away rather than pay the $40,000 for her treatment. They made that decision, then hired lawyers to make it happen. My mom had to fight them in court while going through chemo. She made it by mortgaging the house. She told me the insurance company caused her more stress than the prospect of passing away.
#4 Fighting Over Vanilla
More people lost their lives last year over vanilla in Madagascar than blow in South America. They’ve even coined the term “vanilla murder.” Farmers hire armed mercenaries to guard their crops against thieves near harvest time. If one is caught... well, let’s just say it’s in response to all the farmers that were hit by thieves for the same reason.
#5 Miracle Cure
CBD. A lot of predatory companies make subpar products with questionable raw materials. They then mark it way up and sell it as a miracle cure to vulnerable and ill-educated consumers. They usually have a high power legal team on deck, but pay their workers poorly and no benefits. I used to be in the industry and have my own opinions about who’s good out there (it’s a woefully short list).
#6 Higher Academia
Not an industry, but higher academia is badly broken. Some of the smartest people are some of the most badly exploited. Old tenured professors limit the number of faculty many departments can have, forcing people to work as postdocs forever, effectively doing all the work the prof should do in the first place. Meager pay and long hours, plus constant pressure make postdocs some of the most depressed people.
The grad students are no better either. A lot of the time, grad students don't complain about ill-treatment, harassment, and outright bullying as they don't want to jeopardize their prospects of graduating. If you're a foreigner, this situation becomes even worse, whether you're a grad student or a postdoctoral researcher.
#7 Rife With Shadiness
The maritime industry. Most of the big companies do things by the book and treat crews well because they’re afraid of lawsuits and unions. But many smaller companies break laws and violate safety regulations with reckless abandon because they’re not as visible and can “stay under the radar,” so to speak.
It’s very common for a small company to ask a crew to do something dangerous in order to increase profit, and for the crew to comply out of fear of losing their jobs. That’s just the U.S. maritime industry. Sailors from poorer nations who work on ships are often fed little more than rice and cheap ramen for months at a time and paid pennies for their backbreaking work. I love running tugs for a living, but the industry as a whole is rife with shady business.
#8 They Hate Us
As a chef and restaurant owner, I would say delivery services like Grubhub. They take 30% of the sale, leaving the restaurant with basically zero dollars in profit. Not to mention, on top of it all, their customer support is a joke. It’s like they hate us. They’re the absolute worst. Never again will I work with them.
#9 Puppy Mills
Pet industry. Basement puppy mills and dogs that are so inbred they can hardly breathe. There are plenty of ethical breeders out there but the conditions of some of the so-called puppy mills can be really bad. Sometimes when breeds are mixed and the pup gets the recessive genes the breeders weren’t looking for, they straight-up euthanize it because they know it won’t sell. Not to mention how many “purebreds” are actually not pure at all... and sold as-is. Shady.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
Stories that matter — delivered straight to your inbox.
#10 Industrial Use
Glitter. A manager of one of the biggest glitter manufacturers, Glitterx, said in a 2018 interview that most of the glitter they make goes to one buyer for a single industrial use. When asked who the buyer was and why they need so much glitter, she said “Oh, I definitely can’t disclose that.” When asked why she said, “Because they don’t want anybody to know it’s glitter.” Ever since, people have tried to guess what company or industry secretly uses most of the world’s glitter and why they want to keep that use under wraps.
#11 Shade’s On
Sunglasses. Oakley hasn’t been the same since they were bought out. Oakley was a great company to work for with great bonuses, swag, and extremely high company morale. Their HQ is one of the coolest buildings you could find and the people were always happy to work for a legendary company that really treated their employees right. Oakley knew their customers well, but at the end of the day, it's still a business. And Luxottica wanted that business. Luxottica bought them out in the end, but not through Oakley's will.
You see, Luxottica owns nearly all the major glasses brands and the stores that carry them. They are one step short of a full monopoly of the entire global eyewear industry. Luxottica wanted Oakley, so they took Oakley off all the shelves of every major glasses retailer until Oakley could do nothing but give in. They were squeezed dry until they had to be bought at a nicer price for Luxottica.
#12 Keeping Your Information
The recruitment industry. Some examples are fake jobs to lure candidates for registration KPIs, rampant ageism and sexism, and trainee negotiation tactics. They’ll tell a candidate there’s a better candidate who wants less, so we recommend less for you to get the job, especially for contractors. There’s also “coveting off” pitching and telling a candidate they’ve been sent to a line manager.
In reality, they haven’t been submitted because two others from the same recruiter have already been in interviews. If they fail, you may get a chance. Plus, there are a lot of coded ways to input database info on your age, non-professional related appearance, and ethnicity. I was involved with the industry on a global level for over 15 years before I changed careers.
#13 Debunking Claims
I worked in the mattress industry for a bit. It was basically 90% garbage. The worst part? We had a real doctor serve an advisory role for our products. He debunked a lot of nonsense claims about mattresses like “your pillow is 50% of your spinal support” that the salespeople use to sell you accessories. The salespeople would argue with him like they knew better. The Kool-Aid is strong there.
#14 An “Even” Split
I've seen some interviews with retired idols and they have a lot to say about how the industry works. One of them even mentioned that they would split the profit 70/30, but when it came to pay, they divide the expenses 50/50. If the group didn't make enough money, the idols would be in debt with the producers. Many times, idols would come out much poorer than when they entered.
#15 Biggest Explosions
Defense contract manufacturing. When I worked in that field, it was like a time capsule to the ‘70s stereotypes. Just one example: I was at a lunch at a nice restaurant with my boss and a potential client we flew in from DC. They got plastered at noon and started giggling about the biggest explosions they'd ever seen. Work bled into the evening and smoking cigars at a pub that sold them was a weekly ritual and a way to hammer out the details. This was recent. Like, during the modern height of stupid contracts being thrown around.
#16 Alarming Videos
RedHeadRedemption on Youtube is a former adult star who had some pretty alarming videos about the truths in the industry. She mentioned producers going to parties with teenagers and talking to 16-year-old girls about doing adult videos when they become legal. I don't know if there's grooming involved with that or what the deal is, but it's disturbing.
#17 You’re Going to Work
I was a waitress for 10 years at various restaurants, but they all had something in common: there was no paid time off. Meaning, if you got sick and had bills to pay, you were going to work. Not only that but even if you decided you'd take the day off and lose the money, you were threatened with being fired unless you got a doctor's note. It was something none of us could get since we didn't have health insurance. It was really wild stuff.
#18 I Don’t Care
I worked in a retail store and can confirm that the shipping industry is awful. Another big issue with it is an "I don't care attitude.” If we were the last stop, finished unloading, and the driver had one item left on an empty truck, it was never "Take it back and find out where it belongs.” Usually, it was, "You guys want it? My truck goes back empty either way." If we didn't take it, the drivers would just chuck it in a dumpster and go.
#19 Business Reviews
Rating services like Yelp. They refuse to advertise and your good reviews magically get rearranged. Look, if you want to do that and be transparent, I get it. But most every business owner knows how scummy this is and most clients just have no idea. I have a business that isn't something that would usually be looked for on Yelp. They called and I just froze. Luckily, I do long term rentals and was sold out. I explained I wouldn't have an opening for months and they seemed to leave me alone. Yet, they have my business on the front page of Google search (under the wrong category).
#20 Overworked Crew
Cruise ships. I was told I could have a minimum of one day off every week and work normal hours with good pay and good pre-paid tips. I ended up working 30 days in a row, over 400 hours, for $1600 with tips included. This company I was working for was called Scenic Cruises, which was an Australian company working over a Swiss company going under a Maltese flag, sailing in Central Europe.
That’s how I understood it. They deliberately did this so they could break international laws. I counted at least five that they broke. They were the biggest scam company I ever worked for. I resigned after my first month. The police boarded the ship every once in a while because they knew this but couldn’t do anything since they had no jurisdiction over the ship. I was also once forced to work with a 39 Celsius fever.
#21 Getting Away With It
Nestle. They use child labor, take the freshwater reserves from small villages in South Africa, promising to give them better access to it. They then privatize it and attempt to sell it back to them as bottled water at a price they cant afford. Not to mention, I believe they used some water sources rural villages needed for drinking water and used it to pump their waste water into. They then hide behind their lawyers to let them get away with it.
#22 A Wild Experience
The gourmet mushroom industry. The short of it is that I pulled over to check on what I thought was a forest fire in the middle of nowhere, British Columbia. Turned out, it was a wandering rove of Canadian mushroom gypsies looking for Matsuki, (pine) mushrooms, and chanterelles. Next thing you know, my car keys vanished and I was put to work for two days with payment being a sandwich and a few drinks.
We wandered the forest, digging up pine buttons and learned way more about mushrooms than I ever imagined. We were warned heavily to stay close to our own/captors as the rival group was not above violent tactics if you entered their territory. This was affirmed when I stumbled upon an angry man from the other side pointing a shooter at me.
Whether or not there's truth to it, I don't know, but supposedly the mushroom world was once incredibly lucrative until the Chinese mob infiltrated it and gouged the prices. After two days, my keys mysteriously reappeared with my car unharmed and nothing missing. No one would answer where it went, but they all knew. Hands down the nicest kidnappers ever, but it was a wild experience.
#23 Actual Research
Scholarly journals. The actual research is usually paid for by the government. When it isn't paid for by the government, it’s paid for by a foundation or in pharmaceuticals by a corporation developing a drug. The people who vet the research are all paid by their respective universities. All the journal does is distribute it. Yet they charge way more per-page than anyone else who just distributes other people's writing.
#24 Behind the Scenes
Dog daycare. You’d be surprised at some of the places I’ve worked at. Aggressive dogs don’t get kicked out, they’re very dishonest about what goes on behind the scenes, and there’s not enough staff to care for the volume of dogs. My co-workers at my current job have had the same experience as well. We were all very happy to find a place that actually treats the dogs as the top priority. Most people are just in it for the money (which is funny because there isn’t much money in the dog industry).
#25 A Good Punch
I used to work as a mechanic and I know they overcharge the customer for way too much. One time a girl came into my shop, maybe in her late 20's. You could tell she had no idea about cars. Well, there was some snow the last few weeks and she brought her car in because her roof concaved. So there was a bowl-like spot on her car roof.
She asked us if we could somehow fix it, so my manager told her he'd take a look. She went to sit in the lobby area. My manager opened the car door and looked at the roof for three seconds before slamming his fist up into the roof of the car, pushing the collapsed roof back to normal. He kept the car in the shop for an hour and spent maybe 10 minutes rubbing the dents out. He charged her $700 for a good punch. I’m glad I'm not in that industry anymore.
#26 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The plastic industry. They focus on telling the individual to recycle as a way to address the global trash crisis. The real focus should be on companies that mass-produce plastic and label it as “recyclable,” but recycling companies cannot actually recycle the materials. It costs too much to recycle certain materials and no one is willing to buy them.
#27 Really Stupid Mistakes
Mental health facilities. A lot of people trust today's mental health facilities, but from my experience, they're quite flawed. Staff can be judgemental, condescending and downright cruel. A family member was institutionalized for a while and I can say with full certainty she was healthier before she went in than coming out.
The places I've seen are most definitely for profit. They had no intention of having her "fixed" and released. Also, sloppy. She was given the wrong people's medication several times. She was also prescribed dangerous combinations that wound up having her sent to the ER. There were really stupid mistakes were made over and over.
#28 Gentlemen’s Club
Seriously, “gentlemen’s clubs,” or, in layman’s terms, strip clubs. I worked as a bouncer and DJ for many years in a couple of different clubs. There is a lot going on in the background that is shady as heck. Not only from the dancers, but also bartenders, bouncers, management, owners, etc. It’s kind of insane.
#29 Choice Locations
Frankly, the cemetery industry. Cemeteries charge premium prices for "choice locations" and hefty fees for opening and closing graves. The national average cost of opening-and-closing a grave is $1,240, or significantly more, depending on location. I don’t know why you’d take advantage of grieving families like that.
#30 Housing Prices
Airbnb is shady and ruins affordable housing. This article states, "The average annual revenue for an Airbnb host falls at $9,570, but the median revenue is $3,300. What accounts for this astoundingly different $6,270 gap? A closer look at revenue by percentile shows the highest-earning hosts (less than .03% of hosts surveyed) made over $1 million through their combined listings, and 98% of hosts made less than $100k." Most people who use Airbnb are doing it as a side income but the top 1% who use it destroy housing prices.
#31 Traditional Value
The whole point of the wedding industry is to trick people into overspending by preying on their desire to have the "perfect" wedding. So you "have" to have multiple photoshoots, a beautiful venue, excellent catering, an expensive dress, etc., all at an exorbitant price. It's a scam. A lot of "traditional" wedding staples are based on traditions and beliefs, but those traditions don't mean anything anymore. So, they’re now sold as "traditional" to squeeze more money out of you.
Tell me why you’d ever need 1000 photographs each of your engagement, your "first look," the ceremony, the bridal party, etc.? How many of the 50 good ones are you going to actually look at and will mean anything? The rest just get dumped on social media and forgotten in a few months. I'm not saying that you shouldn't take pictures of your wedding. But there's no reason to spend thousands to take pictures of contrived setups, like the "first look."
I've been to and been in a number of friends’ weddings and have seen the ludicrously overpriced things the planners convinced them to buy into. Plus, that's just the financial side. That's not even getting into the insanity that is planning the thing. Trying to get families on board and compromise their demands is a whole other shady industry.
#32 Competing Companies
The drink industry. In some countries, most "competing" companies use the same distilleries, equipment and ingredients. This includes the higher end "premium" spirits. All the marketing is basically, "Look how young you are and how much fun you'll have.” They then completely ignore the demographics who buy it or do anything to stop them. I'm fairly certain at least one of the major companies is cooking their books at this point.
#33 Bathtub Juice
Vape juice. I did some work for a company that use to wholesale to a whole lot of smaller vape shops. The places that sold to us ranged from vape juice laboratories to guys making it in bathtubs. I actually quit vaping seeing some of the conditions the juice is made in. One of the guys making it in his bathtub had to excuse himself because he needed to move his stuff as his mom wanted to use the bath. People are messed up.
#34 Skimming Payroll
I worked in trucking and the head HR lady for our distribution center was skimming payroll and shorting the checks of the lowest people on the totem pole. Then, she’d get cash infusions to petty cash from corporate to return part of the theft as an "emergency tide over" until the employee's next check. Then, she’d claim the rest of the theft as an overage on the next payroll report.
It was a scam she managed to work for a couple of years due to a lack of oversight during nationwide management shifts. When she finally got caught, rather than take the bad publicity, the company just let her leave. The last I heard, she was working in the same position in an adjacent industry, but still involving transportation. C'est la vie.
#35 Pizza Joint
A friend of mine opened a pizza joint last year and it became enormously successful as soon as he opened the doors. He’s passionately against Grubhub and the related apps. They've apparently tried to add his restaurant multiple times and he had to be very forceful in getting his business removed. After hearing him describe what he's been through with them, I'll never order through Grubhub.
#36 Glorified Sales Staff
Eyeglasses. You have no idea the nonsense they put most people through when it comes to buying them. It’s far, far worse than trying to buy a new car from a dealership. Wholesale frames are about $5-20, wholesale lens blanks are another $10. Any kind of dip coating (UV, tinting, etc) is negligible cost and effort to apply — literally pennies.
To top it off, they don't even do a whole lot in-house. They send it to "labs," which are basically sweatshops, and can take up to two weeks when labor time is literally under five minutes. Instead of training real opticians and technicians, they're just glorified sales staff now. Most of the time, they don't even bother with proper measurements. I was an optician in the early ‘90s. I'm horrified at what the business has become.
#37 Doing Her Research
My sister went looking for a place to board her anxious dog for a week when she went away. It's a good thing she started looking early because it took almost two months. She researched each place beforehand, then would just show up as if she didn't know anything. She was often told incorrect info from staff and most wouldn’t let her look at where the dogs were being kept. Once, she even reported one to the SPCA because the conditions were so bad. She found a local farm that boarded dogs as a side business and although they charged more, she said it was worth it. They also sent her pictures of her dog while she was away.
#38 Oil Leak
I went to a local mechanic who tried to tell me that I had oil leaking from my then-12-year-old car. I'm 100% convinced that they sprayed some oil onto the undercarriage of my car to make it look like I had a leak. I'd never seen any other evidence that my car had been leaking oil, so I stopped going to them after that one time.
#39 Long-Term Facility
My fiancee, before I met her, tried to take her life over 15 times. She’s been hospitalized half of those times and sent to a residential (long term mental facility) place. Every time she went, she was neglected and was forced to stay way longer then she needed to. The last time, she went she was attacked by a fellow patient but didn’t tell anyone until the facility was forced to send all patients a letter stating that charges were being pressed and if you were a victim, show up at court at such and such date. The guy pleaded insanity and got away with it.
#40 Someone to Look Up To
I'm a big MasterChef fan, so I decided to have a quick look at some of the backgrounds of the chefs on the show. The number of well-known celebrity chefs who have been in controversies around underpaying their staff is ridiculous. We’re talking millions in unpaid wages in Michelin-star restaurants. Yet they get to play the high horse high integrity roles on these shows. I guess this is more related to how the restaurant industry works, but it’s hard to find someone to look up to.
#41 Ridiculous Prices
The “healing stone” industry that sells amethyst and quartz and whatnot. Past the point of being fake, most are mined in dangerous areas by poor people who have no other choice if they want to feed themselves. They’re paid very little for super hard and very dangerous, health-threatening work. Those stones are then sold for ridiculous prices.
#42 Plain Paintings
Honestly, I’d have to say the whole art scene. I heard that a lot of the plain color paintings that get sold for ridiculous prices are for money laundering. But, I’m not sure how true that is. However, if it's not, then I don't know who in their right mind who buys a plain white painting for something like 200 million dollars.
#43 Shady Practices
Real estate is filled with shady practices that make it so people can't sell their houses themselves. I used to be a broker and know for a fact that most brokers will never even show houses that have a lower commission listed on the MLS. It goes way deeper than that too. Real estate boards, multiple MLS fees, and monopolies. I hate that industry now.
#44 Horse Owners
One word: horses. No, not the racing, but the owners. A good racing or breeding horse can be insured for millions of dollars. It's common for these horses to no longer have any "use," e.g. can no longer race or become infertile, but still perfectly healthy otherwise, so no payout. Many owners will inflict injuries to claim insurance, which can end up killing the horse.
#45 Nursing Home Staff
Nursing homes are for-profit healthcare at its worst. They have ludicrously overworked and undertrained staff. It's not uncommon for residents to call 911 for themselves when they need help or for staff to find a PT already in rigor at shift change. There are plenty of good nursing homes, but ask any MD, RN or EMT which nursing homes near them are the worst and they'll know off the top of their head.
#46 Unpaid Bills
Christian health sharing ministries. They advertise themselves as a wholesome alternative to regular insurance. Bible thumpers throughout the midwest eat it up thinking they finally have affordable coverage. They also put right in the fine print that they don’t have to pay anything for any medical bills and the coverage they offer is not, by any definition, insurance, but nobody reads it. Then they get upset when bills go unpaid for months and even years.
#47 Secondary Markets
Ticket markets, especially secondary markets. The primary market still does some money-hungry things, though. E.g. Metallica found out that their tickets sold for more money on the secondary market so, working with TM/Live Nation, held back a tranche of tickets that would’ve been available at the primary on-sale. They instead pushed them directly into the secondary markets. Both sides were able to make incrementally more money this way since the ticket cost was higher, effectively scalping us buyers. Secondary is shady.
#48 Going Missing
Law enforcement. Most police are good guys but if you ever bring a case against a bad one, remember that the person in charge of evidence is probably treated pretty well by that police officer. The D.A.’s office wants to stay on good terms with police so that they can continue to do their job effectively. The judge has probably seen that police officer before and probably has a bias in favor of them. Not to mention, the whole system has an interest to protect the image and ensure people have faith in the system. Paperwork is lost, contraband and property go missing or are suddenly never there, and battery happens.
#49 Giving Back
Plasma donation companies. They give donors money for donating, however it maybe averages $40/ donation. The companies pay above minimum wage for their employees to work shifts where you don’t know what time you’re off. Sounds like a deal, except the company itself makes $1,000 per donation. In a day, they can take an average of 230 donors in their smallest centers, so that’s $230,000 per day per center. These companies make literally millions per day and they give less than 1% back to donors and employees.
#50 Built On A Lie
Water bottles. They sell water for prices thousands of times higher than just pouring yourself a glass at home. They also produce mountains of unrecycled plastic all under the guise of it being cleaner than tap. It commonly isn’t. The water bottle industry is built on a lie and has made the earth much worse for their own profit.