Americans love the new sharing economy: Services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb are enjoying explosive growth.
But unlike hotels and cabs, these services are much less regulated, meaning that knowing what you are going to pay in the end can sometimes be very tricky.
Downside of Sharing Services
In the new sharing economy, we jump into an driver's car, or stay in their home as a house guest.
It has so many advantages over the traditional economy, but also a downside according to a new report in the Washington Post.
The Post says these lightly regulated businesses can make it harder than ever to determine your final price.
That can lead to big surprises, like one woman's $120 peak time ride home, under the "peak surcharge," when she told us she was expecting a $25 ride.
Uber and Lyft offer price ranges up front, but not exact prices, which catches many first and second time users off-guard.
Of course, a cabbie won't give you the fare up front, but you can see it on his meter, and if it starts moving north of $50 you can ask him to end the trip a bit earlier.
The report also says watch for extra fees that can make an Airbnb listing as pricey as a four star hotel.
The post found listings with extra $45 service fees and $25 cleaning fees added on, that were not disclosed until well into the booking process.
You might say "doesn't that stink," since most hotels don't add cleaning fees to your bill. Maid service is included, even in the cheapest hotels.
So my advice? Airbnb is a great service, but if you are staying in someone's home, be sure to ask about any extra fees you might encounter.
If it's a ride, assume you will pay the higher side of any estimate you get, and make sure you understand peak surcharges before you ask for a ride home after a concert, ballgame, or at Midnight on a Saturday night.
That way you are not surprised, and you don't waste your money.