The financial reform compromise may keep our financial system from reprising Chernobyl anytime soon, but it will also change the way consumers use their credit cards. Merchants will soon be allowed to refuse plastic for purchases of less than $10, a rate the Fed can boost as they see fit. Both the Fed and universities will also gain the power to set maximum credit charges. That means no more free flights to Europe after charging your kid’s tuition to your rewards card. The changes will go into effect the day after the compromise is signed into law.
Aaron’s pissed because Travelocity’s quote for a one week car rental in Costa Rica didn’t include a mandatory insurance charge that cost him more than $100. Aaron feels cheated and wants Travelocity to pony up under their TotalPrice Guarantee, but Travelocity may not have done anything wrong. Join us across the jump to help us sort this out.
If you want to pay out the nose for Wi-Fi, stay in a W hotel, says HotelChatter. The site has released its 6th annual report on Wi-Fi in U.S. hotels, and the W Hotel chain is named as the worst with no free lobby access and $15/day room rates. Other hotels that suck when it comes to wireless: DoubleTree, Four Seasons, Marriott, and Mandarin Oriental.
American Airlines announced today that they’re raising checked baggage fees by $5, effective February 1st. Your first bag will now cost $25, and your second one will cost $35. If you want to check a third bag, you will have to buy the airplane (cash or certified checks only), and if you want to check a fourth bag, you will have to endure a phone call from AA’s CEO Gerard Arpey, where he will cry at you and say he doesn’t know how to run a company and he’s scared. He only made $8.9 million in total compensation last year, so cut him some slack.
If you don’t like the idea of paying a resort fee the next time you visit Las Vegas, make sure you check out the various Harrah’s Entertainment resorts. Today they sent a press release to travel blogger and temporary TSA aggravator Chris Elliott in which they state that all of their Vegas resorts “exclude mandatory resort fees.”
Travel consumer advocate Christopher Elliott has a new post about an undisclosed $15/day “resort fee” that Trump International Hotel Las Vegas plans to tack onto a customer’s bill. The surprise is that the customer reserved the room through Priceline, and thought when he made the reservation that Priceline was telling him the final room rate.
Sometimes a company verifies that a bank account by making a couple of small deposits in it, then asking you to report back the deposit amounts. Don’t rely on that verification process to block any activity in the meantime, though. That’s what Suzette did with Ally bank, and she ended up with a $35 stop payment fee from her own bank.
If you participate in an automatic savings program like Bank of America‘s Keep the Change service, where debit card purchases are rounded up and the difference is deposited into your savings account, keep an eye on maintenance fees. James says he was hit with a $5 charge last month because he hadn’t met the minimum monthly deposit requirement of $25: “It turns out that I wasn’t even accruing $5 worth of change per month, so I was losing more money due to the maintenance fee than I was saving via Keep the Change!”
As a nation, we pay more each year in overdraft fees than we do for books, cereal, or fresh vegetables, says the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL)—and considering how outrageously expensive cereal is, they must be talking about a huge sum. They are: “Banks and credit unions collected nearly $24 billion in overdraft fees last year, an increase of 35 percent from just two years earlier.”
Jeff bought a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 4 back in May during a sale promising a $200 discount. The final checkout price didn’t reflect the discount, but he double-checked the terms and conditions and confirmed that he was eligible. Adobe agreed, and has repeatedly promised to issue a refund. Jeff has been waiting for the check for almost four months, and he’s not alone. Another customer has been waiting on a similar refund for almost a year!
Will thought he was buying the newest MacBook Pro model—that’s what it said on the box and on the receipt. After he’d set it up, he discovered it was a previous model, so he took it back to the glass box Apple Store on Fifth Ave in NYC to get the version he paid for. Now Apple wants him to pay $100 to transfer his data over to the new laptop. But hey, he shouldn’t complain, because they’re “waiving” the restocking fee!
Midwest utility Xcel Energy wants to charge anyone using solar panels a monthly fee for sustainably generating their own energy. According to company spokesman Tom Henley, “We just don’t think it’s fair that customers that don’t have solar panels on their homes should subsidize these solar panel customers any further.” Huh?
After reading about how Jesse was banned for life from Bank of America for no clear reason, other readers wrote in with similarly bizarre BoA stories. Wayne was locked out of his new account after he opened it and charged a $75 overdraft fee. Chris was sent checks linked to a duplicate account and then charged penalties when the checks bounced. Edward’s new account was closed but the CSR refused to tell him why, and he was charged a $60 “research fee” for the closing. When Edward went to a BoA branch to clear things up, he says the employee there told him, “That’s why you don’t open up accounts online.”
Consumers aren’t the only ones looking to save money and gain a little extra cash on the side. Banks are people too, you know! In the face of toxic assets and credit card delinquencies, they’ve come up with a plan to increase their revenue: New fees! Higher fees! Higher minimum balance requirements! Trickier overdrafts!
Vonage apparently rustled up a map and is now apologizing to customers who were accidentally charged international rates for their domestic calls. Reader J.R., who in April received a $38 bill after Vonage billed a call to Los Angeles as a call to Algeria, sent us the telecom’s apology note…