Bleats

The Way Websites Manipulate You Into Buying Stuff You Don't Want Is Chilling

One minute you're online window shopping, the next you're hundreds out of pocket after buying ethical homewares.

Let me throw a scenario in your direction, you’ve finished watching Good Omens and need to pass the time somehow so you decide to check out a bunch of online retailers. It’s all just internet window shopping though because you’ve blown all your money on beer and you’re adamant that you won’t buy anything you don’t need.

But the next thing you know, you’ve spent money you don’t have because you just had to buy some ethical homewares and Toy Story 4 merch, all of which cost far more than advertised.

If that’s been the case then you’ve been a victim of some subtle, creepy manipulation that tricks you into buying stuff and you probably didn’t even notice.

These little manipulative tricks are called “dark patterns” and are sneaky online versions of classic techniques used to influence consumer behaviour, such as putting impulse purchases near the cash registers.

While no one is sure how prevalent dark patterns are, a study from Princeton University analysed over 10,000 websites using software and found that over 1,200 used some variation of these dark patterns to ensnare customers.

Some dark patterns are pretty obvious, others are pretty impressive at how well they can hook people in, and some are just pure evil. Examples include:

  • Sneaking products into a customer’s shopping cart without their consent or preselecting more expensive versions of a product
  • Hidden costs and subscriptions
  • Imposing deadlines on deals and sales
  • Misdirection and manipulative language, such as “confirmshaming”, having opt-out options greyed out, and trick questions
  • Fake testimonials or activity messages such as “*insert name* just saved 15% on her order!”
  • Low stock messages
  • Making it annoyingly difficult to cancel a subscription or order
  • Forcing customers to create accounts or share info just to do what they set out to do
So messed up.

While you’re always going to have a target on your back whenever you shop online, it’s pretty chilling to know just how far certain sites will go just to get you to hit that “place order” button on stuff you don’t really need or even want.

So keep on your guard next time you’re shopping online or you’ll end up buying weird backwards bikinis when all you wanted was some ideas on what to get for lunch.

Next Time You Lose Your Wallet, Make Sure There's A Heap Of Money In It If You Want It Returned

This is a problem where throwing more money at it is an actual solution.

Losing your wallet is an absolute nightmare.

Not only do you get the anguish of losing a bunch of cash, photos and important cards that you’ll likely never get back, but there’s the annoying step of cancelling all your bank cards and replacing everything.

Now if you’re some spud who is prone to misplacing your wallet, worry no longer because we have good news!

Some folks decided to do a study into this whole losing wallet thing and found that the best method of getting a lost wallet returned is by *checks notes* making sure it’s stuffed with cash.

Guess we’re throwing money at the problem then.

Researchers published a study in Science, titled ‘Civic Honesty Around the Globe’, that looked into what people do when they find a lost wallet. Do they return it? Leave it where they found it because they can’t bear the responsibility? Or return it but take all the money out of it first?

Well after experiments involving losing over 17,000 wallets in 355 cities across 40 countries, the results showed that wallets with more money in them are more likely to be returned than those that had no dosh. Bet you didn’t expect that.

While the return rates varied between country to country – China hovered between eight to 22 percent while Australia was between 55 to 70 percent – the results were pretty consistent in showing that wallets filled with moolah have a better chance of being returned than empty ones.

He ain’t ever losing that sucker.

So why is this the case? To figure that out whether people return wallets from the goodness of their hearts or something else, the researchers did another test by putting keys – useless to the finder but valuable to the wallet owner -in some wallets.

Interestingly, the results showed that wallets with both money and keys were more likely to be returned than ones that had money but no key. Just to make sure, 2,525 people were surveyed about this topic and the general consensus was that feelings of stealing went up when there was more money involved but they didn’t give a crap about the key.

So in short, people are more likely to return wallets filled with money not because they care about its owner but because they’re more concerned about painting themselves as a good person rather than a thief.

But are you though?

Okay, so this study shows that people are inherently selfish and don’t really care about their fellow humans. Suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised with that.

But on the bright side, at least it means you have around a 70 percent chance of getting your lost wallet back if it’s stuffed with cash so that’s something good that came out of the study at least.

You May Hate Airlines Enforcing The Carry-On Weight Limit, But It's Actually Doing Some Good

And honestly, you don't need to carry that much stuff with on a flight anyway.

Airports seem to operate on an entirely different rule set compared to the rest of the universe. Case in point: it’s a thing that has spawned a subset of people who are deliberately late for their flights. What in the name of all things holy is that?

Now the latest thing to have caught my eye is the notion of carry-on luggage limits and the strict enforcing of said limits by airlines. To some, this seems like an affront to their entire existence as 7kgs (unless you pay extra) doesn’t go very far when you simply must bring along your pajamas, extra clothes for warmth, toiletries, the three big paperback novels you’ve been meaning to read over the last year, and all the electronic stuff you’ll end up wasting time on for the entire flight.

But as much as these limits suck, there’s method to the madness.

See, this whole carry-on baggage limits thing ties into another thing that only comes up at airports: duty free shopping and people with too much money to spend.

Some people like to take advantage of the tax-free prices that are available at airports and go into some sort of shopping frenzy where they buy heaps of crap before racing to the front of the boarding queue so they can stuff their purchases into the overhead cabins first, thereby taking up all that precious space.

Without baggage limits, these people could essentially buy their weight in random stuff and claim a monopoly over the overhead baggage space compartment, and the people who are too slow to board will be forced to carry their bags and suitcases in their laps for the entire flight. Flying generally sucks anyway and the last thing you need is additional frustration over some idiot hogging up all the overhead luggage space.

We don’t need those kind of people.

Throw in a few other practical reasons for carry-on limits – like not weighing down the plane and helping you to not blow your bank balance on duty free shopping – and it makes perfect sense why we have them in the first place. They’re not there to rip you off, they’re actually there to help you (and your wallet).

And besides, you’re not going to realistically need that much stuff on a flight anyway unless you’re going from Australia to London, so why do you need that much space anyway?

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