ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s not just inflation driving up costs, just about everything you buy these days comes with extra fees, some hidden.
Every time you pull out your wallet or swipe the credit card, you’re feeling the pinch.
“Definitely adds up. I couldn’t tell you how much extra more I pay,” Vince Gonzalez told consumer investigator Jeff Deal.
Gonzalez is talking about fees that consumers pay on top of inflation. He started noticing that more fees were added during the pandemic because more food and groceries were being delivered right to your door.
“But it’s for convenience, I guess from this part they’re all usually convenience fees, people don’t want to leave their homes,” Gonzalez said he’s willing to accept some of these added charges.
Consumer advocate Clark Howard says some of these added costs have gotten out of control.
“An example is when you go to compare airline flights. Many times, you don’t know what the real price will be because that’s before the seat fee, the bag fee, the carry-on fee, the ‘it’s Tuesday fee’ or whatever it is,” Howard explained.
That’s the rub. Businesses will advertise one price to get you interested, but you often pay more.
Once you start adding in fees it’s harder to comparison shop and harder for consumers to get a fair price.
Junk fees have even caught the attention of the White House.
“Unfortunately, so much of our economy now lacks that basic transparency,” Ambassador Susan Rice said during a recent meeting with state lawmakers. She explained how so-called junk fees bring businesses tens of billions of dollars a year and it hurts consumers.
A 2018 study by the Government Accountability Office found junk fees account for 27% of event ticket prices, and some states like New York have passed legislation requiring full disclosure.
Consumers have also complained to Action 9 about resort fees at hotels.
“They used to be like about 20 bucks. Now they’ve gone up to about $40,” Chalmust Allen said.
Renters are feeling the squeeze too. Action 9 recently profiled a landlord charging fees just to use the website for renters to make payments.
Even some in the fast-food industry are adding fees for convenience.
“I was surprised, very surprised.” Deborah Church said she was told she would have to pay a 4% fee at a local Krystal burger restaurant if she wanted to use a credit card.
She opted to pay cash.
If you have concerns about a junk fee, make sure you try to get it removed before you pay. Once you’ve already paid, it’s much harder to get that money back.
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