Avoid Hidden Consumer Fees Avoid Them I Say

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Avoid Hidden Consumer Fees Avoid Them I Say

As budgets tighten and people become more careful with their money, many are noticing that when they buy something or they use a service, they are paying more than expected, without their consent. This problem goes beyond unexpected tax, and into the realm of extra fees that are embedded in the costs of the products and services themselves. Companies all over the world have been charging extra to their consumers with little consequence, although attention has been drawn to this trend in recent years. There are many different ways that you might end up paying more than expected. What are the most common hidden fees for consumers, and how can you avoid them?

There are many companies that have been accused of including hidden fees in their services over the years. One of the types of companies most often accused of charging extra hidden fees are the infamous credit card companies. ATM fees, transfer fees, deposit fees, new account fees, account limitation fees, and overdraft charges are on the rise, and usually come as a surprise to unsuspecting consumers. The secret charges have become so egregious that in 2010 the government passed regulations to place limits on credit card and overdraft fees. However, the banks have responded by increasing fees and charges in other areas, so consumers are still left footing extra bills that they were not budgeting for.

Another hidden fee for consumers that is usually a little bit more anticipated, but nonetheless a nuisance, is the cable package for a television subscription or phone line. Few companies have the monopoly on the cable market right now, and they are also contributing to the expense, which comes with trying to get access to a few extra channels. The cable packages available right now come in few options, and these options are very limiting and expensive. Companies know which specific channels are usually grouped together, and they generally try to separate those channels so that consumers have to pay more to get the 3-5 that they will most often view. It is a racket.   

One of the most intense types of hidden fees comes for consumers when they purchase an airline ticket. Many people are not aware when they purchase their ticket, high percentages of taxes, checked bag fees, and extra weight charges are already included in their ticket cost. On top of all the excess charges that you unknowingly incur with an airline ticket come the taxes at the end of your purchase. Often, you will book a ticket that actually costs at least 100 dollars less at the beginning than it will by the time you check out. At the time of purchase, your ticket will be much more expensive than you expected.  

Unfortunately, there are even more places that might be charging you more than you realize, and unexpectedly mislead consumers. For example, many companies are charging the same amount they always were, for something that is half as large or smaller, and many consumers do not notice the subtle changes in packaging. There are also ways of putting less volume into different products, and people may not see that one stick of firewood is missing, or a few less ounces of soap are inside.

The best thing you can do in response to hidden fees is to stay aware and responsive to different changes in the services, the cost of different services, or even the packaging in many cases. So many companies are taking shortcuts now to make a profit, and with so many different options, there is no reason not to put the heat on them for it. When you educate yourself about the various fees that might hinder your financial success, you can be aware when you are being charged extra and speak out. You may also want to check online to see which companies have been called out for charging consumers hidden fees, and avoid doing business with those entities.


Karl Stockton writes for Kanetix. Learn all about average car insurance.

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