As anyone who looks at their monthly statements from banks, credit card companies, cell phone companies and cable companies know, the types of fees and miscellaneous charges these businesses come up with is endless. I have often thought there must be some major or specialized degree that someone can get in college that teaches you how to create and hide this stuff. Well, out from the shadows, we have discovered an assortment of fees you may not have heard of or experienced yet.
For example, at least one bank is charging a fee if you get tired of waiting on hold and decide to disconnect. As of this writing, that bank is seriously considering discontinuing that policy. I wonder what took them so long to figure out this probably wasn’t a good idea? A similar idea, and perhaps a little more palatable one, involves banks charging a fee to their customers who want priority in the calling que when they telephone customer service with a question.
Many of the new fees can be categorized as “add-on” fees for expanded services. As consumers go, this is usually a little easier to swallow than a rate increase on a current service since you technically have a choice on whether to “add-on” the service. For example, many banks are now charging monthly, flat fees to waive the penalty they charge you for withdrawing your cash out of another bank’s ATM. For yet another monthly fee, those same banks will often refund to you the monthly fees you incur from those other banks as a result of using their ATM. Perhaps one of the better add-on services we have seen is the opportunity to get access to your credit score. Of course, whether it is ultimately a good service depends on the cost and the frequency with which you can review the information.
The thing about “add-on” fees is that they often start out at almost a nominal cost. But, as soon as you get used to them, the charges for these same service mysteriously start to creep upward. And, when enough customers begin to complain about the increases, well, that is when we tend to see another round of “new” fees and “add-ons” and the cycle begins again. If you need more information on this subject, contact Roman Shaul, a lawyer in our Consumer Fraud Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Roman.Shaul@beasleyallen.com.
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