The Biggest Ripoff EVER

KegEvery Memorial Day weekend Vonnie and I host a little get together for family and friends. While shopping for the needed supplies last week I purchased a product that could very well be the biggest ripoff on planet Earth.

Can you guess what it is?

If you guessed bottled water, you were close. At least with bottled water you could make the argument that your preferred brand tastes better than tap water or other brands. But this product, for what I needed it for, was a complete wallet gouger.


We purchased a keg of beer for our adult guests, and a keg of 1919 root beer for our shorter guests. We picked up the barrels of fun late Friday afternoon, and needed to keep them cold through the decorating party that evening, all the way to the end of the actual party late Saturday night. I wanted to make sure we had enough so I wanted to get ten 20lb bags.

It would have been convenient to just pick up the ice from the liquor store, but the price per bag was $4.50, and there was NO FLIPPING WAY I was going to shell out $45 for frozen water.

On my way home I stopped at a couple places comparing the price of 20 pound bags of ice:

  • Liquor Store: $4.50
  • Grocery Store: $3.65
  • Walmart: $3.80
  • Costco: $2.79

Oh, how I’m learning to love Costco.

I plopped 10 bags of ice into my cart for total cost of just under $28. A savings of $17 had I taken the convenient route and purchased the ice at the liquor store. Buying that much ice at once really reminds a guy how much retailers charge for something you can easily make at home for pennies.

Which is exactly what we usually do.

When we have an event in the near future that requires a lot of ice, I normally start emptying my ice tray into large bowls, or even a trash bag stored in our chest freezer for a few weeks. I can usually empty it once in the morning, and once in the evening, and it literally takes less than a minute.

I was bummed that I forgot to do that this time, but after dropping $28 for a freezer full of ice I remembered why I do it.

What’s the biggest rip-off you’ve run across lately?

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32 Responses to “The Biggest Ripoff EVER”

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  1. Michelle says:

    $4.50 for a bag of ice seems crazy! We bought two bags the other day for our BBQ and they were $1.99 a bag I believe.

  2. William says:

    If you have time I would call or visit a few fast food restaurants during their slower times of the day. I always got ice by the cooler or bag (depending on the joint) for a fraction of what convenience or grocery stores charge. I got to be quite the expert on the local retail ice market while I was getting ice for my fraternity’s parties over the years. In my experience, it’s not something they are use to charging for so the managers always spit out a really low numbers. These stores have huge ice machines and it’s usually not a problem for them.

    Perfect example of true knowledge picked up in college

    • Travis says:

      Great comment, William! I’m guessing that our local McDonalds used to get lots of these kinds of requests, because I recently saw they put up a sign advertising bags of ice for a similar price that a convenience store charges – which is through the roof. I bet that if I checked around I could find somewhere that would give me a low ball price. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m in a jam……thanks for the tip!

  3. Cait says:

    You can get a 20 lb bag of ice down there!? I’m pretty sure all our bags are only like 8-10 up here, lol. Either way, total rip!

    • Travis says:

      I think this is the very first time I’ve heard anyone refer to Minnesota as “down there,” Cait. Really though? No 20 pound bags of ice “up there?” What is wrong with Canada? ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This first thing I would do is contact zimmy to assist you in making that keg lighter the next time you have a get together. The second thing I would do is start a nice collection of ice trays that are only used when you have a need of bulk ice. If you slowly buy between 25-50 trays of ice (depending on your needs) from the store (I recently purchased several quality ones at my local store for $0.75 each) and then only break the extras out when you have a need for the ice. The day before your event put your freezer on it’s lower setting and start making your ice. My freezer can make ice in about every 3 – 4 hours on its lowest setting, I am not sure about others. The only problem is you might end up needing a large freezer in the garage to keep the bulk ice in bags. I have found that most people with houses already have one of these though.

    • Moni says:

      Zimmy – I agree with the making ice idea, but I’d put another spin on the idea, rather than buying extra ice trays (I’m going thru a decluttering stage), either borrow from friends or neighbours theirs – especially if this is not a regular event – or start a couple of weeks ahead and store in zip lock bags, empty and clean ice cream containers or some sort of plastic bag or container that would do the trick.

      • Travis says:

        Great comments, Zimmy and Moni! Sometimes I’ll actually ask if my neighbors would help me gather ice, and they’ll give me the ice from their ice makers periodically too. Moni, great idea with the larger containers….I actually have some ice cream buckets that I’ve used in the past – but breaking them up is just a little difficult.

        You both officially have a standing invitation to stop by any time you’re in Minnesota during Memorial Day Weekend to help us lighten that keg!

  5. Moni says:

    OK – we didn’t have bottled water here until about 5-10 years ago and even then it took a while to catch on, buying ice took even longer. Parties and BBQ’s here, it is more common to clear out the spare fridge in the garage and be ok with everyone tramping back and forth to get another drink (it was decided about 8 years ago it wasn’t a good thing to use your kids as bartenders) or most people know someone who has a small bar size fridge and they borrow it and set it up on the deck with an extension chord running inside. Not as classy as an ice bucket but it fits with DIY blokey mentality here.

    However, earlier this year we were invited to a bbq and I asked about what we should bring – got the usual suggestions – but the hostess asked if we could bring a bag of ice as her fridge in the garage had broken down and the bar fridge they usually borrow was off on a camping trip with the owners. (as it turns out, someone else had one and brought it but that worked out on the day) Anyway, everyone brought with them a bag of ice, everyone made their own – I think only one newly single guy paid for his bag of ice (the missus took the ice cube trays when she left) – so that is another option if you hold bbq’s where everyone expects to bring something.

    • Travis says:

      That’s a great story, Moni – and and asking people to bring ice isn’t a bad idea….except in this particular case many people are coming from out of town. Although they could just stop at the store a few blocks away as they approached our house.

      Thanks for sharing your story, and a great tip!

  6. Lauren Smith says:

    Making your ice is what I do! I make ice and then put it in a bag in the freezer. I’ve always got 10 lbs of ice ready to go. This is a great blog. I am finding some great hints on saving money. I am reading a wonderful book called, “Practical Steps to Financial Freedom and Independence: Your Road Map to Exiting the Rat Race and Living Your Dreams” by author Usiere Uko. The book is more about life than about money. There are many life changing strategies to learn about.

    • Travis says:

      Thanks Lauren, that’s exactly what I do most of the time as well..I just forgot to do it this time. Life has been busy as we just had our son’s confirmation last weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. That is absurd. I suppose the energy required to make it and keep it frozen is somewhat significant, but not nearly enough to justify those prices.

  8. Wow, $4.50 for a bag of ice?! I think I am in the wrong business. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think we pay something like $1.99-2.29 for a 20 pound bag in our area.

    • Travis says:

      No kidding? Wow, I wonder if I could make any money by renting a huge truck and hauling it from where you live to where I live and selling it for the same price?!?!

  9. That’s ridiculous, Travis!!! Rick does the same thing you do for his fishing trips: starts stocking up in a big garbage bag and puts it in the chest freezer. Charging that kind of cash for frozen water is highway robbery!

    • Travis says:

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one that starts saving ice ahead of time. How long does it take Rick to save up enough ice for a fishing trip, Laurie?

  10. Wow! I rarely purchase ice but it’s one of those things that you need when you need it, and retailers take advantage of the urgency! I had no idea it cost that much. The biggest rip-offs I’ve come across lately are printer ink and batteries. I had both on my list during a recent visit to Walmart but couldn’t bring myself to spend nearly $40 on replacement ink for a printer I rarely use. Similarly, $10 worth of batteries for LED flicker candles seemed really, really extravagant.

    • Travis says:

      Oh, don’t get me started about printer ink, Kendal! We bought a new printer in the last year or so, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ink cartridges seemed less expensive than the ones for our previous printer…..until I discovered that it seems like they dry up after about 10 pages pages of printing. UGH…!

  11. Mackenzie says:

    That is an insane amount of money for ice! Like John said, I think I am in the wrong line of business ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And if I may echo your sentiment regarding printer cartridges…I thought it was just me, that they seemed to dry up after printing 10-15 pages! What’s the deal??? Another line of business I should have gotten into, LOL.

    • Travis says:

      How about we go into business together, Mackenzie – An Ice and Printer Cartridge supply store. It’s crazy enough that it just may work…… ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Abigail says:

    Convenience always come at a premium — an often steep one. Here in AZ, ice is pretty cheap. It’s usually around $1.80 for a 10 lb bag and $2.50 for a 20 lb bag. I’m sure Costco is better, but we’ve never bothered to check, as we don’t use ice. Heck, you can even get ice at a decent chunk of fast food places around here. It’s surreal.

    • Travis says:

      I’ve been the the Tuscon area, and know how crazy hot it can get in that part of the country. I would think that ice would be more expensive there, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. Of course you probably need a refrigerated trailer of some sort to get it home before it melts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing, Abigail!

  13. We have automated ice and water filling stations here in OK. It’s 2.00 for 20 pounds of ice if you bring your own cooler. 5 gallons of water will run you 1.00 if you bring your own container.

    • Travis says:

      Automated Ice filling stations sounds cool, Brent! $2.00 for 20 pounds of ice is better, but if you have to buy a lot of it, it still adds up, right??? This has been really fun to see how much ice costs in different parts of the country!

  14. Cory says:

    I sell my ice for 1.50 for an 8lb bag. What none of you realize is that these machines are upwards of 5000$ for the whole setup. The machine only lasts 10 years if you’re lucky and keep up with all the maintenance. They use a lot more water than your refrigerator ice machine does. Your fridge ice machine freezes stagnant water and these industrial machines freeze moving water. That is why we have clear ice cubes and yours at home is foggy.

    • Travis says:

      Thanks for sharing that information, Cory…..I had no idea. I can see how clarity in ice might be nice when using it for drinks…..but when all I’m using it for is to keep a keg cold, it really doesn’t matter. ๐Ÿ™‚

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