Sticker shock: watch out for hidden fees

Posted at 4:04 PM, Jan 31, 2017

Have you ever gotten ready to pay for something, but the price on the bill wasn't the price advertised?

Hidden fees are popping up everywhere, and experts say the problem is only getting worse.

"Going into a contract or something where I see it's supposed to be $50, I expected to be at least $60 or $75," Matt Casinelli said. "So it's kind of just like in incurred costs that I just expect nowadays."

"I usually do the fine print digging and I usually get the lowest cost of everything in general; just having a family and different things, and I'm a finance guy so I know what I'm looking for and I know what companies offer certain products," he said.

The Consumer Federation of America says hidden fees are a growing trend across a variety of industries.

A recent study from the National Economic Council gave its major examples.

First, they found resort fees can range from $10 to more than $100 and are often mandatory and added separately.

They also found that student fees were significant: everything from freshman counceling fees to stadium facility fees which are estimated to add more than 20% to the price of tuition at a four-year public university.

For event tickets, the NEC found the so called "convenience," processing and service fees can add as much as 21% to ticket costs.

Documentation fees and floor plan fees, which are all discretionary, can even add thousands of dollars to the purchase price of a new car.

Krista Ferndelli of the Better Business Bureau says you should ask if there are any reductions possible in fees applicable to your purchase, and to always read the fine print before making a final decision.

The Consumer Federation of America says federal and state legislatures and some government regulators have the authority to require all-in pricing. They say it's easy to file a complaint with them online.

Complaint forms with the Federal Communications Commission can be found here, and complaint forms with the Federal Trade Commission can be found here.

You can also find your elected representative here.