10 Big Businesses That Make Money By Stealing
Banks can cost you a lot of cash if you aren’t careful about reading the fine print and asking the proper questions when you open your account. Some banks charge maintenance fees monthly on checking accounts, although some offer “free” checking. Make sure you know how many checks per month you are allowed to write before additional paper charges get billed to your account. Also, if you use online bill pay, find out if the service is free or if there is a charge for electronic payments debited from your account. Be sure you know your ATM withdrawal limits, some banks have a set limit per month in which you are allowed to use your ATM at their branch ATMs without a fee, and after said number, there will be additional charges. ATMs that are not at your branch will charge an additional fee to access your cash, so try to be aware of where your bank’s ATM locations are. If accidents occur and you become overdrawn, you should be aware of overdraft fees charged to your account. Some banks process debits before they process deposits, so even if you think you have the money there in time, it may still result in overdraft charges. You may even be charged for a paper statement at certain banks. With all the fine print, it’s sometimes difficult to know what you might be penalized for at your banking institute.
Credit Card Companies
Credit card companies are also notorious for having fees for many different things. Recent laws have changed things somewhat, but most companies have shifted fees around, so they have new fees for similar fees that are now prohibited. Beware of introductory offers where only the first year’s annual fee is waived, the APR is only low for a small period of time, and the 0% rate on balance transfers may come with a hefty transfer fee! As with nearly everything, there is a late fee charged if you do not pay your bill on time. The fee is limited now, but they are allowed to raise your APR for not paying on time. This will allow the company to potentially make more than their previous late charge penalty. Some companies will remove your reward points from a period of time for paying late, and for a fee, will return those reward points. For merchants processing credit cards can be a nightmare riddled with hidden charges. There may be fees tacked on with names such as file fee, security fee, audit fee, conversion fee, over-limit fee, or excessive transaction fees, which are all basically “because we want to” fees when it comes right down to it. Also, some companies delight in charging customers for discontinuing service with them. For a merchant finding a reliable and trustworthy processor is exceedingly difficult. However, some do exist. Even if you aren’t a merchant, you are still affected by this because as it costs the merchant more money to be able to do business, you will be paying more for the goods or services they provide!
Cell Phone Service Providers
Cellular telephone companies are well known for having obscure official-looking charges added in after your plan’s cost, and the average consumer has no clue what the additional charges are for. On occasion, some companies have even charged fees for services that were not yet available in certain areas but charged those areas anyway as part of their standard billing. Overage fees are quite steep in any plan, so be aware of what your limitations are on talk, text, and data. Wireless data charges seem to be the most difficult for consumers to understand their limits and result in overage for the new data users. Using directory assistance for cellular customers can cost up to $3.49 in areas of the country. However, there is an alternative to paying the price if you need a number immediately. Try using 1-800-FREE411 from your cellphone instead and save a bit on your bill. Also, be aware that on occasion, outside companies can charge your cellphone for texts or ring tones, and sometimes, getting your phone number removed from these billing lists can be a nightmare. Often it’s aimed at younger users who will send a text to sign up, and when the parents receive the bill, it’s not pretty.
Automobile dealerships are known for having a sticker price, then adding on this and that for various bells and whistles in a car. This has come to be expected, but prospective buyers may not realize that when they finance through a dealership, they may also pay up to an extra 2.5% that gets paid directly to the dealer. It will automatically be added in the paperwork, so there will be no disclosure as to whether or not your dealer has inflated your finance rate. Knowing your credit score prior to purchasing can help you determine if you are paying a fair rate or not. When you find the car of your dreams, you and the dealer want you to ride home in your new car that day, but it may be prudent to shop around for the best financing rate before you commit to buy. If you’re leasing and not purchasing, be aware you may be charged an additional fee, sometimes called an acquisition fee or assignment fee. Always research before you buy or lease, ask questions, and always read the fine print!
Airlines have been making news about additional or hidden charges since they started charging for baggage checking. But extra charges don’t stop at merely checking your bags. Some airlines are now charging for carry-on luggage as well. Want to reserve a window seat instead of an aisle seat? Need a headset? Blanket and pillow? Snack or drink? All of these could cost you extra as well, depending on your airline. Sometimes reserving your ticket over the telephone might result in an additional fee added to your ticket cost. Something came up, and you need to change your flight? If you didn’t book directly through the airline, you might end up not only paying the extra airline money to change your flight but whichever service you booked through might charge you as well, so make sure you are positive about the date and flight you’ve reserved. If you don’t often fly, research who you’re booking through as well as the airline you’re considering to see what kind of extra fees other than taxes might appear on your final bill or be sprung on you at baggage check or even on the flight!
Hotels have started following in the footsteps of airlines with little charges added into your final bill that you may not be aware of until time to pay. The more expensive the hotel, quite likely the larger the fee. You may find yourself paying extra charges for housekeeping, local calls, Wi-Fi access, your in-room safe, or access to amenities on the premises such as a gym or pool and bringing a pet? There could be an extra charge added to your bill for that. Need a rollaway bed to accommodate an extra person that you’re being charged for in the room? There’s likely going to be another charge for that. Ordering room service or having a bellhop help with the bags? Some hotels automatically charge a gratuity for these services, even though tipping should be common courtesy. That minibar is not complimentary, just a courtesy, so you’ll likely be charged a restocking fee for anything there that might strike your fancy, even if it’s just a small snack. Some hotels may even charge you for parking. Proper research and reviews may help inform you of fees you’ll likely be charged outside of standard room rates.
Car Rental Agencies
Car rental agencies are another place where you don’t want to take an advertised or quoted price for granted. Aside from taxes, you could face added charges or licensing fees, fuel charges, or penalties for returning without a full tank, drop-off charges if you don’t return the vehicle to the same location you rent from, or an airport surcharge if the rental company is located at an airport. If you’re under 25, you might pay extra for being in that age group. If you drive over an expected number of miles, you’ll likely be charged for that. Many companies will abide by a 24 hour (increment) agreement, meaning that your return needs to be made before a specific time of day, or you could be charged for an extra day. Should you need to return the vehicle early, you may get penalized, especially if you had gotten charged a weekly rate. Insured drivers may be able to avoid the insurance fees if their own policies cover rental cars, but you always want to make sure that you have adequate coverage before trying to avoid that additional fee.
Moving companies aren’t where you might expect to find hidden charges, but there are some companies out there who will charge you any extra fees for things you may or may not think about. Depending on the company you choose, you may incur extra charges if you live in an apartment on the second story or higher, or if there is an elevator or steps involved, or if the carrying distance from door to the truck is longer than normal. Also, some companies may charge to disassemble beds and wrap mattresses. On rare occasions, companies may charge for blanket rental or for packing tape. You may want to check into whether the company bills on mileage or actual travel time, since travel time has so many variables. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be sure to read all paperwork and research companies before you choose who is going to be handling all of your worldly possessions.
While legitimate talent agencies may not charge fees to register, there may be optional services to pay for, such as professional photographs for a portfolio or what-not. Be aware that there are several companies or people claiming to be affiliated with certain big-name studios that are more than willing to ask for upfront cash in exchange for big opportunities to meet with people in big-name production companies. While many states have had laws passed preventing true talent agencies from asking for money upfront from clients to register with them, there are still nefarious companies lurking about ready to reap riches due to you or your child’s dreams of being discovered. In some cases, parents have been taken for over $8,000.00 from a traveling company that advertised on the radio to be in town for a weekend, supposedly seeking new talent for big-name companies. When seeking talent services for yourself or your child, make certain that you choose a legitimate, well-established company that won’t charge ridiculous fees for possible opportunities. Never be afraid to ask questions about whether or not there is a fee or charge for something, because a true talent agent will make money when the client gets work, not for merely registration.
Retail companies aren’t exempt from slipping in hidden or sneaky charges and fees. If you’re purchasing electronics, be certain you got the model that you want, because several retail shops will charge you a restocking fee of up to 15% of the purchase price if you choose to return it. Companies that make this claim it’s to prevent people from purchasing something such as a camcorder for a specific use, then returning it the next day for a full refund. However, there are cases where people have been charged this fee for a defective device return. Layaway has made a comeback in these hard economic times but, some companies are now charging service fees to layaway items, and if you change your mind, there can also be a restocking or cancellation fee charged to you. Certain auto parts will charge you a “core charge” tacked on in addition to the charge of the auto part, but fortunately, this is usually refundable if you bring the old part back to the place of purchase. In recent news, Starbucks was fined for adding a completely hidden charge of $1.50 per bag of coffee that weighed less than one pound (in addition to the original price per pound of the coffee) that was sold in their stores. They have since removed the hidden charge to avoid any confusion to their customers.
Online sales aren’t always safe, either. Always read the fine print when filling out anything online. There was a gentleman who purchased a book online that ended up costing him well over $100.00 over a period of 15 months because he checked a box for a discount on his purchase and shipping, unwittingly signing him up for recurring payment for a plan he didn’t know he had