Your Money MattersConsumer Reports


Consumer Reports: Protecting yourself from hidden fees

Posted at 6:20 AM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 09:45:34-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Carol Begnoche and her husband Brian love everything Virginia Tech. It only makes sense! That's where they met and where they both attended college. So, when their alma mater’s men’s basketball team played Duke in the NCAA tournament this past March, they knew they had to be there. They purchased their tickets on Stubhub for $355 a piece. On top of that was a fee.

“I expected to see fees, but I was flabbergasted by how much they were," says Begnoche.

Their tickets had an additional $173.80 for what’s listed as “service, delivery and transactional fees". And the Begnoches aren’t alone. From cable TV fees to banking fees to airline fees, Consumer Reports heard from nearly 3,500 Americans who were angry about the growing number of fees on their bills. A common theme: Added fees are annoying and costly.

“Companies are doing everything they can to make their prices appear lower, to bring those consumers in the door. The problem is they have to increase the price somewhere along the way, and they do it by hiding fees in the final price.”

CR’s survey shows at least 85% of Americans say they’ve encountered an unexpected or hidden fee over the past two years. As for who is most likely to charge consumers hidden fees, CR’s survey finds that telecommunication providers, live entertainment or sporting events, and gas and electric bills top the list.

“It’s important to check your bills regularly to make sure that you don’t have any extra fees that you don’t know about," says Anna Laitin, Consumer Reports. "And ask a lot of questions to the company before you pay them.”

As for Carol, she says the next time she’ll budget for ticket fees and put that extra money towards a hot dog and a cold beer at the game.