Reader Saves $950 By Ridding Life Of Fees, Overpayments

Moriconi writes in to tell us how he was able to save $950 this week by uprooting the hidden fees and renegotiating the things in his life he was paying too much for. Awesome! Here’s his true story:

Your website has changed my consumerist ways forever. I read “Gotcha’ Capitalism” this weekend and decided to take back my rights as a consumer.

1. Our mortgage was paid up in October and I didn’t realize that Wells Fargo had the real estate tax payment scheduled for semi-annual. Got the county tax bill with a penalty of $18. Called a county clerk, explained my situation and got the charges removed. Savings: $18

2. Checked my Wachovia account and found a $35 overdraft fee from November. Stopped at the bank regional main branch. Someone please explain to me why, in a 10-12 story Wachovia building, my escalated customer service request needed to be handled off-site by someone in meetings all day. At the end of the day (literally) 2 fees removed. Savings: $70.

3. Called around to price out heating oil costs and the best I could do was $3.34-$3.39/gal. Negotiated with Petro for a 1 yr. contract @ $3.09. I have 2 tanks x 275 gals x 5 deliveries. Savings: $687.50

4. Kids gave me an iphone for Christmas. Ported # from Verizon. ETF on current bill. Followed your script (including reading the legalese several times to the annoyance of the csr.) Waited 10 min. and savings: $175

5. Comcast. No success here. Offered to downgrade to basic cable-phone bundle ($109 with 2 year contract! Does this mean FiOS is getting close to my neighborhood?) Savings: $0

Total savings for week’s work: $950.50
Regaining some financial control: Priceless


Hidden fees are everywhere! With them, companies do what is called shrouding the true price of goods. You get lured in with a low “landing price,” then reamed on the backend with hidden charges. Since they’re not disclosed until far along in the transaction process, meaningful price comparison becomes that much more difficult for the average consumer. Scour your bills, question line items you don’t understand (hint: watch out for fees with important-sounding yet incomprehensible names). Ask for fees to be returned. Save, save, save. You worked hard for your money, why should anyone get to keep any more of it than they have to?

(Photo: Kai Hendry)