5 Evil Ways Companies Are Charging You For Doing Nothing
Several famous companies love nothing more than to concoct new diabolical ways to charge consumers ridiculous disguised fees for doing absolutely nothing at all. Honestly, we all might as well be throwing our money into a garbage can, because at least then we would actually be able to see where it was going.
Recently AT&T began collecting what they called an "administration fee" from their customers. They just added an extra 61 cents onto everyone's bill without telling anyone, because it is precisely that easy to do. AT&T customers received nothing extra in return except for an ambiguous phrase on their monthly invoice. AT&T, on the other hand, received an extra half billion dollars, because America is awesome.
"Next time we'll just charge 69 cents, since that's the closest this fee will come to servicing you."
Overdraft Bank Fees
Banks are raising the cost of overdraft fees to absurd heights, because if you're going to smash your members into financial ruin, it might as well be the ones who habitually have negative account balances.
Exorbitant overdraft fees generated about $35 billion in the last year alone. And the higher the bank's overall revenue is, the higher their overdraft fees are -- at the end of 2012, the average fee charged by banks with revenue of around $25 billion was $35 -- that's 35 bucks every time you go so much as one cent over your account balance. And if you have multiple accounts in the same bank -- say, a checking account and a credit card -- the bank will automatically deduct payments due on one account from your other account. Meaning the bank will overdraw your account itself, and then hit you with the overdraft fee on top of that.
"We call it 'double dicking' in the biz."
But prepaid debit cards are a viable option for avoiding the treachery of the banks, right? Those are just like reloadable gift cards from Chili's, right? Cue the Phantom of the Opera organs, because ...
Prepaid Debit Cards
Prepaid debit cards may sound like a good idea, particularly if you're in the habit of keeping all your money in a coffee can underneath the floorboards, but those debit cards charge a laundry list of fees, all deliberately targeting people who have a difficult time keeping track of their expenditures (a phrase here meaning "people who are terrible with money").
"Hmmm ... 'First notice,' 'Final notice,' 'We've auctioned your grandma' ..."
There is a fee involved with literally every single action you take with a prepaid debit card. On average, there is a purchase fee of $9.95, point of sale fees that charge you two bucks every time you swipe the card for any purchase, a withdrawal fee of $3, a $1 ATM balance inquiry fee (on top of whatever service fee the ATM itself charges), reload fees of $3.95, and an inactivity fee of $3 (remember, that's them charging you for not using the card). Keep in mind, the debit card is providing absolutely no service whatsoever -- it is merely holding onto your money for you and charging you a fee anytime you even try to look at the damn thing.
The worst offenders of these are the Justin Bieber prepaid debit card, which charges you an inactivity fee after only 30 days, and the Lil' Wayne debit card, which charges fees for everything listed above. This is unsurprising, considering those two galloping shitheads are probably the last two people on Earth you should have managing your money.
"Shit, do you think diaper pants just grow on trees?"
Many car dealerships charge a "document preparation fee," which 99 percent of the time is something they're pulling straight out of their asses. The fee can run all the way up to $399, which is more than the down payment on the freaking car in some cases, and the dealerships are providing no additional service in return. Seriously, no document costs $400 to prepare unless it's written in diamond dust on tanned unicorn hide.
The dealerships can't even agree on what "document preparation" means. When asked to describe it to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs, the answers they received ranged from "eight years of document storage" to "September 11 and Homeland Security issues," because evidently the State Department needs to be contacted about your Chevy Tahoe.
"What's this 'What's This?' fee?"
"$150, since I'm explaining to you that it's $150."
Concert/event tickets are legendary for all the nebulous bullshit fees tacked on by ticketing companies. Places like Ticketmaster (hereafter referred to as "Lord of the Ticket Fee Scumbags") advertise one price for the actual event ticket to get you on the hook, then wait until you are about to complete your purchase to pile on an extra $15 to $30 of "convenience" and "service" charges, despite the fact that they are offering no service or convenience beyond simply selling you the ticket. That's like a grocery store charging you a convenience fee for keeping their shelves stocked with food.
Then you'll get hit with an additional processing fee, which is literally just a charge for handling your purchase. That's like being charged for the math a cashier has to do to give you your change. Ticketmaster also charges a delivery fee even when you print your tickets out at home. In many cases, you can easily end up paying twice the cost of the actual ticket just because of all the goddamned fees. That's a lot of money to pay to be horribly uncomfortable for several hours, surrounded by a legion of jabbering fuckwits who are doing their darnedest to remind you that they know the words to every song you've ever loved.