In this tough economy, businesses of all types are trying to nickel and dime us to death with add-on charges.
Those charging the fees want you to believe that the fees are necessary to cover the additional costs of doing business, like pizza delivery fees.
In reality, all these fees do more often than not is mislead the consumer by adding a hidden mark-up to the advertised price. Sometimes the fees are small, but other times they can be quite severe.
The mortgage loan industry has been doing this forever, but now the practice of tacking on fees has spread like the plague to many other services.
Certainly I can’t be the only person who is outraged by this continuing practice. Or am I?
Here are eight classic fees that really gnaw at me. Some of them I do a pretty good job of avoiding. Others, not so much…
1. Unlisted Phone Number Fees
This is arguably the granddaddy fee of them all. I currently get charged $1.75 per month for my unlisted telephone number. That’s $21 per year for those of you keeping score at home. Tell me again why it costs the phone company more money to keep a phone number out of the phone book than in it? Even though that’s a rhetorical question, I’ll answer it anyway: it doesn’t.
2. Convenience Fees
I recently bought four tickets from Ticketmaster so I could take the Honeybee and the kids to see the Harlem Globetrotters and, boy, was it a great show! Anyway, the tickets came to $300 for the set. On top of that they included a “convenience charge” of $5 per ticket that added $20 to my bill. Now you know why I hate Ticketmaster. To tell you the truth I think the convenience charge is completely misplaced. Ticketmaster should be charging the convenience fee to the acts whose tickets are being sold, not us consumers who spent time on the Internet looking for the tickets in the first place. Think about it. If the Harlem Globetrotters had to sell their tickets on their own time, they’d never get to practice. Eventually their skills would suffer and then the Washington Generals might actually start beating them. I don’t mean to pick on the Globetrotters; Lady Gaga wouldn’t appreciate it if she had to sell her tickets door-to-door either. Right? I think I’ve made my point here. If I’ve got it wrong though, please tell me.
3. Fees for Printing Tickets
I’m not done with Ticketmaster. After gagging on the $20 “convenience” charge for my Globetrotter tickets, Ticketmaster wanted to charge me $2.50 so that I could print the tickets from my home printer. Keep in mind that I also had the option to get the tickets via the postal service – for no charge. WTF? Where is the logic in that? How much do you think it costs Ticketmaster to print the tickets on heavier stock paper, using their ticket machines, and then pay their staff to place the tickets in envelopes with the proper postage and mail it to my house? I don’t know either, but I made sure that’s exactly what Ticketmaster did.
4. Hotel Safe Fees
There are more than a few hotels out there that like to charge you a dollar per day just for the privilege of using their in-room safes – whether you use it or not. What a joke. Whenever I see this fee, I ask to have it waived.
5. Tax E-Filing Fees
Among the most egregious fees out there are the ones that charge money for essentially doing nothing more than making a mouse click or pushing a couple of keys on a computer keyboard. How much money does it cost to send some bits of information through the Internet anyway? Well, if you ask TurboTax it’s $36.95. That’s what they charge to e-file a state tax return. So rather than printing out the return and sending it through the mail, I clenched my teeth and reluctantly paid it. Hey, if you paid attention you’ll find a lesson on opportunity cost buried in there.
6. Tax Refund Fees
After spending four hours doing my taxes with the online edition of TurboTax the time finally came where I was asked how I intended to pay for their service – including the stupid e-filing fee. Fair enough. Lucky for me I was due a refund. “Perfect!” I thought, “I’ll have TurboTax simply deduct what I owe them directly from my refund.” Unfortunately, it turns out TurboTax charges an additional $29.95 if you choose to go that route. My only other option was to pay by credit card – at no charge. How does that make any sense? So I paid with plastic. I hope TurboTax had to pay the credit card company an interchange fee for me using it too. Dummies.
7. Mortgage Junk Fees
There are dozens of mortgage junk fees out there, some more dubious than others, that make you scratch your head and ask what the heck is that for? Reconveyance verification fees, commitment fees, and the infamous “warehouse fee” are just three classic examples. (I know, I already mentioned them above – but I wanted to make it official.)
And then there’s this…
It’s bad enough that airlines are almost universally charging fees to people who have the audacity to travel with luggage. But United and US Airways now take this a step further and charge their “valued” customers who choose to pay for their bags at the airport, rather than online, an additional fee of $3 per bag.
That’s right, folks. A fee for paying a fee.