C writes in with another lesson on why you should check your statements frequently:Two years ago I purchased items for my grandchildren at KidsStuff.com. This month (March 2008) I found an $18.00 charge from them on my American Express card.
Josh discovered a mysterious $13 fee on his parents’ phone bill, and as he tracked down the source of the bogus charge, he learned a lot about cramming. The FCC describes it as “the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive charges on your telephone bill” by third party companies, who bank on you being too confused/distracted/annoyed by your hard-to-read bill to notice.
Texas levies an inventory tax of .02% on the retail value of all products in a company’s inventory each year, but lots of car dealerships try to sneak the fee over to the consumer. Even worse, they do it year-round.
In response to yesterday’s post, another AT&T employee writes, “Just to clear up some confusion, AT&T may charge an administrative fee when paying your wireless bill with a representative. There is no charge to use the automated payment systems. The source for this is the tagline on my bill.”
An anonymous AT&T employee who says to call him “Vernon” wrote in to tell us that starting next Tuesday, March 11th, some customers in the Southeast who call in to make a payment will be charged $5, with the fee going nationwide by May. He writes, “I feel this is taking advantage of our customers’ trust, because even when we put it on all of their bills, and let people know, there will be tons of reps that won’t let the customer know they’re being charged for taking their payment.”
AT&T Mobility Agrees To Refund Money To Florida Customers & Pay $2.5 Million To State's CyberFraud Task Force
Florida’s Attorney General scored a victory for consumers last week, when AT&T Mobility agreed to refund fees that third-party vendors snuck onto thousands of accounts under the guise of “free” ringtones, wallpapers, and text content. They also agreed to hand over $2.5 million to help fund the state’s recently-created CyberFraud Task Force, to spend $500,000 for “consumer education on safe Internet use,” and to start policing third-party vendors better and make sure all billed items are clearly described.
Michael writes, ” I was just reserving a budget rental car, and for some reason decided to actually read some of the fine print.” Buried in the text was something called an “FTP Surcharge,” which basically amounts to a participation fee for any frequent flyer promotion they offer their customers.
After we posted yesterday about Ian’s surprise $1.99 fee for asking Comcast to stop mailing him junk mail, a Comcast rep contacted Ian and apologized for the confusion, explaining that the fee is real but “it is not for changing marketing preferences.” Read his full email after the jump.
We don’t mean to influence the “Worst Company In America” voting, but check this out: if you call Comcast and ask them to stop sending you anything other than your bill, they’ll agree but quietly slap you with a $1.99 “change of service” fee. Like most made-up, totally indefensible fees from cable and cell phone companies, Ian found that a chat with a customer service agent can get the fee removed. Update: Comcast has responded to this and apologized for the fee.
Brooks is a DirecTV customer, and he wrote in to warn other DirecTV customers to watch out for a shady “Protection Plan” the company signed him up for against his permission:
- I was not told anything about a “standard policy” to sign me up for the protection plan upon having warranty work done.
- I specifically declined to sign up when pitched on the idea.
- I was signed up anyways.
- I received the letter stating that there would be no charge.
- They attempted to charge a cancellation fee for canceling a plan I never agreed to.
- I had to waste time and energy to haggle to get the charges off, when it really should have been a simple fix.
Read Brooks’ full DirecTV encounter after the jump.
Fodor’s posted another helpful list of hidden hotel fees to beware of the next time you travel. In most cases, these fees fall under the practice of “negative option billing,” meaning that there’s an assumption you’ve used the related service and therefore agree to the charge. If that’s not the case—or, in the case of gratuities, if you’ve already tipped—you should definitely ask the hotel to remove such fees from your bill.
When Capital One “closes” your credit card account, they’ll continue to allow automatic withdrawals even though the account is closed. But they won’t send you a statement—you know, because it’s closed!—so that you’ll end up with late fees. Quenten experienced this first hand when he closed his account recently, and now Capital One has sent his account to collections over a $38.00 late fee for two 38-cent charges that he never knew about.
A reader from Vermont writes in to let us know that he accidentally discovered Comcast has been charging him a $3/month modem rental fee for a modem he owned, because Comcast claimed that due to poor record keeping, it had no way of distinguishing between Adelphia’s modem renters and owners. This fee went on for months undetected because Comcast doesn’t itemize such fees on their online statements, only on their printed bills. (Well yeah, because including such details online would waste ink…wait, what?) When our reader called Comcast to have the fees refunded, he was told he’d have to provide proof of purchase for his modem.
Remember the poor sucker who racked up $1800 dollars worth of phone bills when his isolated Tivo phoned home? A reader wrote in, mentioning that the Dish Network Satellite Service also has to phone home for updates. So you just disconnect the phone line, right? Wrong.
Dustin signed up to do a lil online gambling and deposited some funds online. The transfer company snuck in an undisclosed 8% transfer fee.