19 Surprising Industry Secrets That More People Need To Be Made Aware Of

    "If you're told you need repairs, always ask to see the issues with your unit. If they refuse to show or explain it to you, there is a good chance they are making it up."

    A recent viral Reddit thread asked people to share the secrets they've learned from working in certain industries, and people provided a ton of useful insider info. We shared those highlights with the BuzzFeed Community, who also replied with some interesting industry secrets of their own. Here's what people revealed:

    1. "If you'd like to get in on high-paying market research and focus groups, your chances are better if you answer with an income over $50K (a magic number). Don't reject ANYTHING if they present you with a question like, 'Of the following, which would you never drink?' or, 'Of the following, which ones would you consider using?' White women fill up quickly, so if you're not a white woman, let them know in the pre-qualifying survey. If you can, answer all the way to the end of the pre-qualifying surveys and then reset it. Reading through it all the way will give you an idea of what the study is about so you can influence your answers. These work really well for the higher paying ($100—$500 average) qualitative studies, not those mall surveys where they just want bodies and pay $2.00. I left the industry. I hated it. Go make some money, friends!"


    2. "When items are listed on sale at the grocery store, the sale price will be listed on a bib part of the tag while the 'regular' price is listed on the sticky part attached to the shelf. The 'regular price' is hiked up, sometimes by several dollars, to make it look like you're getting a better sale than you actually are, when, in fact, the sale might actually not be that great of a deal at all. The sale price might even be almost as much as before the sale. Pay attention to items at regular price when they are not on sale to ensure you're not getting swindled."


    "I've seen Safeway do this to a criminal extent. if you're picking things out of a sale section, make sure to swing by the actual aisle. The original price may be cheaper than what they list on the 'sale' ticket, and sometimes the merchandise is missing units or damaged! It should be illegal."


    "I worked at a national pet store chain for seven years. When the new monthly sale signage comes in, the sale price will be the normal price of the object sitting under a newly raised price. This kept people buying the stuff because they thought they were getting a good deal when it was just hiding that the normal price was raised by 50% or more. Walmart is just being more obvious about it."


    Grocery store aisle with various products on shelves leading to refrigerated section

    3. "Your social media DMs are not private. Every platform has underpaid contractors reviewing them and yes, they see your nudes."


    4. "I work in the HVAC service industry. I've seen a lot of shady things done. The biggest one is scamming people who obviously know nothing about their systems on repairs. A local business was caught charging people for repairs that were never done. They would be on-site for a few hours and move some things around but never do any work. A technician who worked for my company briefly was caught condemning perfectly fine motors and AC coils so he could turn the removed parts in for scrap money. If you're told you need repairs, always ask to see the issues with your unit. If they refuse to show or explain it to you, there is a good chance they are making it up."

    "Also, if you are having repairs done, keep an eye on the workers. It is pretty obvious when someone is pretending to work on a unit. Not all companies are bad like that, but enough are, so it deserves your attention until you build a relationship with the company."


    Air conditioning unit mounted on a yellow house wall

    5. "I work in a call center for a large cellular company and have a dirty, little secret that consists of just two words. Ready? Be nice. That's all it takes. There's no need to threaten anyone, be aggressive, or take your anger out on us. We're real people just like you, not just a voice on the other end of the line. When you're rude, belligerent, or threatening toward us, that makes us want to do less for you. And, we will. We'll do as little as possible and maybe make you jump through extra hoops for being a pain. But, if you're nice and patient, and treat us like human beings, we'll bend over backwards to do what we can for you. We didn't cause the situation you're in. While it's reasonable to be upset about something, taking it out on someone else is completely unreasonable. Talk to us. Tell us what's going on. Give us a chance to help, and we will."


    "YES. SO MUCH YES. Did you just scream at someone and hang up on them in a rage, then call back to speak to someone else? There's a real chance the person you just screamed at and hung up on is sitting right next to the person you're currently on the phone with, and the person you're talking with heard much more than you wanted them to. I don't know who got the idea that call centers are vast warehouses overflowing with strangers; it's an office just like any other, which means we sit together and we do, in fact, know each other! My company coordinates with another team in a different city, but have you ever heard of Slack? We're all on one big team channel, and we put warnings about 'passionate' customers there."


    "I worked in customer service claims for a large manufacturer. The second I heard, 'My lawyer will be calling you,' the claim was denied. Sure, some lawyer will spend time on your $1,000 claim. We have a huge legal department. We don't really want you as our customer, as it's obvious you will complain and diss the product. Even if I felt like the customer was wrong, if they were really nice, sometimes I just paid them because that is the customer we want to keep."


    "I work in a mental health office, and I spend 85% of my day answering the phone. When you begin the conversation yelling or being belligerent, I already don't want to assist you with your problem. I understand that it can be incredibly frustrating to have to wait for your medication refill, but I am not your prescriber, and I am trying to help. If you treat me like a person, I will jump through hoops on fire to get you what you need. Start off rude? You go straight to the bottom of my list."


    6. "Working behind the chair in salons for over 30 years, I've witnessed and fired many unprofessional hairstylists because of behavior working with kids. If your child is rude or disrespectful, or if a parent is dismissive of the stylist's request for assistance, I know your child will take the unknown consequences for some common complaints. A stylist can apply too much pressure when combing the hair (a hard raking to their tender scalp), pulling the child's hair harder for sectioning, and even spraying their faces with the water bottle throughout the service if you're not paying attention. Be nice to your child's hairstylist. They can truly inflict some hurt on your little one, or just royally screw up the haircut and blame it on your wiggly one. Best advice: Be respectful of ANY service provider. They have more power than you fully understand."


    Barber chair in a salon with hair trimmings on the floor, signifying a recent haircut

    7. "Most people don't realize how badly they are getting screwed by their insurance company when they make a claim. I worked in a body shop for 19 years, and I can't believe the 'repairs' they wanted us to do, or the low-ball payouts offered to their insureds if they decided to cash out. Aftermarket (made in Taiwan) parts, not following OEM guidelines, 'network' or 'preferred' shops working for reduced rates, and legalized steering are just the beginning. Just because a car looks good after a repair doesn't mean it's safe."

    "All the big insurance companies are publicly traded and don't care about you. All they care about is reporting profits to their shareholders. That means minimizing payouts. They're not on your side, you're not in good hands, and they're like the worst neighbor ever who won't go away. Shop for good insurance, not just cheap premiums."


    "I worked in insurance. Never accept their first offer if your car is totaled. They are told to low-ball on that first offer."


    8. "I have worked in the casino industry for 37 years. The dirty secret about gambling is EVERYBODY LOSES; not one person ever wins. I've worked high-limit for over 30 years, and you see the same people for 30 years destroying their lives and families. Don't believe anyone's BS with systems, especially if they are the biggest losers. In particular, poker players are the lowest denominator of gamblers."


    Row of slot machines in a casino with seats and gaming environment visible

    9. "I worked for a canned seafood company, and we sold our same product as a private label to other companies such as Trader Joe's or Walmart. They could mark down the product, but you're buying the same thing whether you bought the store or our name-brand product. Next time, go for the product that is priced lower because essentially it will be the same product as the name brand that is priced higher."


    10. "If you don't have prescription drug coverage, your best bet is probably an independent pharmacy for lower prices. While it may seem like going to a big chain would be cheaper, chains like Walgreens have their prices set at the corporate level, and they're not allowed to adjust them at the store. Going to an independently owned pharmacy, they have more discretion to work with you on pricing, oftentimes without the need to sign up for programs like GoodRx which sell your private information. I've been with my pharmacy for 25 years this June. We want and value our customers and have more time to commit to helping them since we're not forced to work understaffed. Consider your local independent pharmacy (franchises like Healthmart and Good Neighbor are also mostly independently run). The benefits you think you're getting with the big chains may not actually be real for your situation."


    Prescription bottle tipped over with pills spilled out, implying healthcare costs or pharmaceutical industry

    11. "Most large customer service departments have a note system. If someone's nasty to an agent in the Philippines, you'd see the note in Washington."


    12. "I used to work for a major talent agency in Hollywood, and many Academy voters never watched the screeners and let their assistants vote on their behalf."


    "Both of my parents were in the Screen Actors Guild. Every time they got the screener movies and the form to vote, they would give them to me so I got to vote twice. I am not in the Screen Actors Guild. I was a secretary, but I couldn't wait to vote because if there were two people in a category I liked, I got to vote for both."


    Person holding an Oscar award, wearing a light-textured gown with a diamond ring

    13. "Any time a workplace wins a 'top 25 workplaces in your state' award, money was exchanged for that."


    14. "I work in a hardware store-type place, and we sell different brand versions of different things. Most of the time, there will be an alternative to whatever product you need, and if the one you want is sold out, we're more than happy to look for a fairly-priced alternative with you. My job is to sell you the right thing, not the most expensive thing. The secret? If you're a nice customer who treats us respectfully and kindly, and the item you want is more expensive, we will knock off the difference. In theory, we can do that for absolutely any customer if there's a price difference. However, if you're an a-hole, you get in my personal space, or (and this is so petty) you get snarky about the fact that I sing along with the radio, I'll just apologize and say there's a price difference and you have to pay it."

    "And, when I say a-hole, I mean the kind of people who are listed in BuzzFeed articles about nightmare customers. If you're just a little frustrated that the specific product you want isn't available, that's fine. If you blame me and act like I kicked you in the genitals because of it, that's when you're an a-hole."


    Interior of a hardware store with various tools and gardening equipment displayed on shelves

    15. "I've worked in two commercial rest homes: memory care and assisted living. They cut every corner known to man. The kitchens are pretty much guaranteed to be eligible for immediate jeopardy, meaning that if they fail a random inspection, they will be shut down that same day. The monthly food budget was less than what salary workers got paid. Food would appear rotten right off the trucks, and we were still instructed to pick out the 'bad stuff' and feed the rest to the residents. The rent is so predatory to families and residents. It was over $2,500–$3,000 for a single-person room every month WITHOUT utilities. The residents pay $50 a meal for it to come cold and mushy in a styrofoam box."

    "On top of that, their money is all monitored and controlled by staff at the home, and they are only allowed to spend $150–$200 dollars of their own money in a month. The homes are so understaffed that dementia or assisted care residents would sit at their dining table well past an hour after mealtimes. They would suffer bowel impactions that never got treated, leading to death for some of them. 

    The older men will, no doubt, sexually harass or assault you if your hair goes down to your shoulders, no matter your gender, and nobody does a damn thing about it. I've been hit, kicked, screamed at, and groped more times than I can count. HR says to suck it up every time it is reported. Nurses and caregivers would routinely steal pain meds and fudge the numbers on official charts. They would also leave residents sitting in their own filth for hours. We had a runaway dementia resident recently who was unaccounted for for about four hours. A community-run search party found her body in the woods the next day. After that, the home shipped out all of their residents to surrounding homes without giving locations or contact info to any of the families. Basically, it's terrible. 

    If a loved one needs around-the-clock care, find a small, residential rest home that fits their needs. Never go commercial or chain because you will regret it. You will be sucked dry financially with nothing to show for it but a very unhappy or unhealthy loved one."


    "The food budget in assisted living facilities and even in independent living is laughably low, and it's so full of salt, it's no wonder that residents get so dehydrated all the time. Sexual harassment is also a problem, and if the staff is low enough, there is not a whole lot HR can do. Now that I've worked in that environment, I'll die in my own home, thanks."


    "I was in a rehabilitation center for a few weeks after an accident. It was mostly targeted toward older people, but it was the only treatment center like that in my area. I was SO angry about how I was treated because it made me think about all the people there who were less cognizant of what was going on and being taken advantage of. I have some dietary restrictions, along with some allergies, and the staff said they'd make a note of it, but then they repeatedly brought me food I'm allergic to. Calls for assistance sometimes took half an hour or more. What if it was urgent? What if someone older didn't understand they weren't supposed to eat eggs, or whatever?"


    16. "Your loved one looks at peace in their casket, but what you don't know is they have plastic eye caps under their eyelids that are (sometimes, not always) glued shut. There are either wires or sutures holding their mouth together, and usually, there is some cotton and a bit of wax on the inside to form that subtle smile. A styrofoam block might be under their back to make the positioning look more natural and comfortable. There might be styrofoam blocks under the padding to help hold their arms in position. Depending on the case, they're probably wrapped in plastic garments underneath the clothing provided. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors in preparation for a decedent."


    "They will also (maybe not always) put a plastic bag over the deceased head before a funeral to preserve the make-up before the service. I once worked as a floral delivery driver and had to deliver flowers to a funeral. I opened the door from the outside and the wind caught the bag over the head. Scared the crap out of me thinking the body was moving!"


    A closed wooden casket with white floral arrangements on top, flanked by lit candles, in a room

    17. "When I worked in a call center, we instructed trainees to use the phrase, 'Hold on one moment please while I research this for you,' if they had a question and needed to ask the trainers or managers. It sounds more confident than, 'I need to look that up.' Callers will rip your head off through the phone if they think they can get away with it. The confident speech tricks I learned from working there have helped in many situations since."


    "I'm a supervisor, and that is something that gets pushed in training. Don't let them know you're asking someone else the question, because then they'll ask to talk to that someone else."


    "Customer service representative here. Even if we work at home, we are not allowed to say we work at home. Be nice to us and we will do what we can with our limited resources. When you ask to speak to a supervisor, you are being transferred to another CSR, and if you still want a supervisor, the person can only provide what limited resources we are given. If the wait time is long, we already know so because we are lucky to get a few seconds rest between calls. We do what we can with what we have and after over an hour, we're exhausted with many hours to go. If you don't like your insurance plan, don't take it out on the agent, the agent above, or their supervisor. All the details on your plan come from someone higher up in either the broker, benefits administrator or HR department."


    18. "When I had no insurance or lousy insurance, I told my doctor, and she typically offered me samples of newer drugs that I could have free. If your doctor is reasonable and able, you might be surprised how much they will help you out. When I was paying directly out of pocket, she also gave me a discount on the visit."


    An empty medical examination room with an examination bed and medical equipment on the wall

    19. And: "In the medical/insurance/legal field. If you go for an IME (independent medical examination), you see a doctor. It takes 10 minutes to see a person and make their determination. But, all of your medical records are reviewed by people who may or may not know (in many cases not) anything about human anatomy or medicine. They summarize your accident history and medical treatment so the doctor can skim it a minute or two before you arrive. That same report gets finalized with the doctor's findings and sent off to whoever requested the IME."

    "These same people also write MDRs (medical determination rationale). These people review your records and determine your eligibility for compensation or coverage. It was troubling when one person asked what the 'olecranon' was and said, 'I think it's a typo! Do you think they fell on an old crayon and got hurt?' They were serious. I never heard a person ask a question so earnestly."


    What dirty, little secrets from your industry can you share? Tell us in the comments!

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.