There seems to be little logic to why some companies tack on nuisance charges.
Fees for this, fees for that — even a fee for paying a fee. Where does it end? I’m afraid I know the answer …
In this tough economy, businesses of all types are trying to nickel and dime us with add-on charges. They want you to believe these fees are necessary to cover the cost of doing business, but more often than not, they simply mislead the consumer by adding a hidden mark-up to the advertised price.
Sometimes the fees are small, but other times they can be severe. The mortgage loan industry has been doing this forever, but now the practice has spread like the plague to many other services. 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 of them all. I currently get charged $1.75 per month for my unlisted telephone number — $21 per year. Why does it cost the phone company more to keep my number out of the phone book than in it? That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: It doesn’t.
2. Convenience Fees
I recently bought four tickets online from Ticketmaster so I could take the wife and kids to see the Harlem Globetrotters. Cost: $300 for the set. But on top of that was a “convenience charge” of $5 per ticket that added $20 to my bill. Usually, buying online saves a company money that they’d otherwise spend on a telephone operator or a store clerk. So why am I being charged to make Ticketmaster’s existence more convenient?
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. Where’s 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 charge you just for the privilege of using their in-room safes — whether you use it or not. Here’s one hotel that charges $1.69 per night. 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? 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, 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? Re-conveyance verification fees, commitment fees, and the infamous “warehouse fee” are just three classic examples.
8. And Then There’s This…
It’s bad enough that airlines almost universally charge fees to people who have the audacity to travel with luggage. But a while back, United, US Airways, and Delta took things a step further by charging their “valued” customers who chose to pay for their bags at the airport, rather than online, an additional fee of between $2 and $3 per bag.