Being Aware of Extra Fees ~ Part One

If you haven’t considered following this blog – you might want to do it now.  Not only would I appreciate it, but I am going to try and hit every industry in the next few articles and make you aware of some of those annoying extra fees you might find each time you try to buy something.  

As I said in previous articles, I look over my receipts.  I am totally annoyed by all the extra fees that companies keeping adding to my totals.  Who came up with this method of charging for things anyway?  What happened to the one price method?  These added fees and charges always pop up after I buy something and especially when I have no choice to opt out,  go elsewhere for my items, or even negotiate it away.It's a revenue stream for me

Any commodity or item, you use for convenience or out of  necessity can  have these fees tacked on.  My opinion is that it started with sales tax.  Almost all of the states have it and, I believe they all thought charging everyone a little extra on everything would help them fill their coffers.   No one in the check out line ever said, you know I don’t think I’ll pay the sales tax today.  Basically, they couldn’t –  the states didn’t alloy anyone to  have a choice.  It’s pay the tax or you don’t get the item.  Sure, we can all run off to Delaware (currently they don’t have a sales tax) but even Delaware would be full before long and they’d likely need to implement a sales tax to deal with all those extra residents.

Ultimately scores of businesses jumped on the bandwagon with the states and decided to add “additional fees” whether you like it, want them, use them or need them.  These added fees are on almost everything.  This phenomenon has prolifierated  into just about every industry.  Here’s a few that particularly annoy me.  Remember everything I write is based on my own opinion and experiences and no one paid me to write these articles.

Phone Service:  On most phone bills there are a myriad of charges like the access fees, 911 fees, sales tax, goverment fees, and  line charges that even the phone company has a hard time explaining.  Recently on my phone bill from a known carrier I had a new charge.  This one is called a prop tax schg/fed reg fee and carrier universal service charge.  These charges are NOT taxes or amounts required by law.  They are charges which this company chooses to charge each user in order to collect and administer the “required” taxes and fees which ARE required by law.  Really?   Previously, when I checked this charge from this came company it said the extra fees were to recoup operation costs and real estate tax increases.  Really?  So any part of their business which needs an influx of cash that month?  Because let’s face it people, those are not, in my opinion, legitimate extra costs to be passed on, those are straight forward operating costs which are supposed to be already built into their base price (and likely are).

Automobile Repair:  How about automobile repair?  There are core charges, environmental disposal fees, rag fees, tire disposal fees, recycling costs, acquisition fees (they had to go and get your part) and others.  I am so tired of these fees!  When I go for an oil change I would prefer they just say $59.99 and  include anything and everything I could possibly need, even those windshield wipers they always try to convince you that you can’t drive without.

Automobile Purchase:  We all know about the extra fees they try to charge, for undercoating and tire service contracts, but there are also tons of extra fees which will be included in your new cars invoice.  There is the destination charge, which is what they charge you to get the car from the factory to their lot – why should you have to pay for that?  Administration charge, advertising charge,  processing charge, and my favorite, the “because you are not financing the car” charge.  Yup, if you just want to pay for your car and they do not get that kick back from the financing company they will try and add it to your invoice (for my BMW, it was $800 bucks).  In 1997, when I bought a brand new VR6 GTI, I negotiated hard. I was paying with a check for the full amount of the car and finally the sales manager said, well then, you get an empty tank of gas and no floor mats.  Really?  They had to stoop to removing my floor mats?

If you lease the car, there are so many extra charges they can make your head spin.  You’ll be spared the kick back rebate charge, since leasing technically is financing, but you will have most of the others.  Additionally there is the security deposit, taxes, title, tags (standard in most leases) and later when you turn it in, more surprizes with the disposition fee, mileage fees (if you go over the allowed mileage), inspection fee, and more.  No one thinks about tires at lease end, but if they are worn when you return your leased vehicle, they will charge you for, or make you replace all the tires.  I leased a BMW and when it was due to go back, I sold it instead to Carmax.  They paid the residual value off, and I got a check for about$500 without having to pay all those end of the lease fees, or even worry about the tire tread.

Airlines:  They have their revenue stream going strong with extra tack on fees . I hate that there are fuel surcharges, departure fees, baggage fees, seat assignment fees, boarding fees, goverment mandated fees, security fees, etc.  And really why do they do it?  It’s an income stream which translates into more money, and profit for them, and as consumers we’ve allowed it.  Here’s a list from Kayak which doesn’t pretend to be 100% accurate, but will give you an idea of the fees being charged by airlines:

Hotels:  The hotel industry was not be left out of extra fee bandwagon and have they really done a good job at it.  So be aware of phone fees (local, long distance, even 800 calls) which can really pack a wallop to your bill.  Watch out for Internet Access Fees (one hotel in Las Vegas was $6.00 a minute), or per day parking fees (in New York these can easily be $30 a night), Resort Fees which are almost standard now, early departure fees, reservation cancellation fees, business center fees, room service delivery fees and surcharges, mini-bar restocking fees and automatic gratuities and surcharges.  Please note:  many of these fees apply even if you do not use any of the related services.

In an upscale  hotel in Los Angeles there was a placard that said, it you touch or move anything from the mini-bar, even if you put it back, you will be charged for it.  Water was $6.00. I went to the mini-mart down the street instead.  In Las Vegas, the note in my room said, if you use the fridge for your personal items there is a extra $25.00 a day charge.   Why put the darn thing in the room, except to “trick” some unsuspecting soul into touching it, or actually using it and paying for that priviledge?  That’s annoying.

So I am thinking of implementing a few at, what do you think?   How about a oil exploration fee for everything I sell to you that is plastic – plastic is after all made from oil, and we’ll have to find more to make that item again.  How about just a plastic recycling fee – if you return that item when you are done with it, we’ll rebate the recycling fee to you within 365 days, if we are in business and if that year our profit margins exceeded estimates.  How about if our stocks perform better than the average on the S&P?  You’ll never be able to get your fee back, but what the heck, it was never intended to be anything else but a revenue stream for me.

There will be more articles on this topic… stay tuned.  Please consider sharing this with your friends!

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