8 Stupid Fees Consumers Hate to Pay (But Often Do Anyway)

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The following post is from partner site LenPenzo.com.

In this tough economy, businesses of all types are trying to nickel and dime us with add-on charges. They want you to believe these fees are necessary to cover the cost of doing business, but more often than not, they simply mislead the consumer by adding a hidden mark-up to the advertised price.

Sometimes the fees are small, but other times they can be severe. The mortgage loan industry has been doing this forever, but now the practice has spread like the plague to many other services. I can’t be the only person who is outraged by this continuing practice. Or am I?

Here are eight classic fees that really gnaw at me. Some of them I do a pretty good job of avoiding. Others, not so much…

1. Unlisted phone number fees

This is arguably the granddaddy of them all. I currently get charged $1.75 per month for my unlisted telephone number – $21 per year. Why does it cost the phone company more to keep my number out of the phone book than in it? That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: It doesn’t.

2. Convenience fees

I recently bought four tickets online from Ticketmaster so I could take the wife and kids to see the Harlem Globetrotters. Cost: $300 for the set. But on top of that was a “convenience charge” of $5 per ticket that added $20 to my bill. Usually, buying online saves a company money that they’d otherwise spend on a telephone operator or a store clerk. So why am I being charged to make Ticketmaster’s existence more convenient?

3. Fees for printing tickets

I’m not done with Ticketmaster. After gagging on the $20 “convenience” charge for my Globetrotter tickets, Ticketmaster wanted to charge me $2.50 so that I could print the tickets from my home printer. Keep in mind that I also had the option to get the tickets via the postal service – for no charge. WTF? Where’s the logic in that? How much do you think it costs Ticketmaster to print the tickets on heavier stock paper, using their ticket machines, and then pay their staff to place the tickets in envelopes with the proper postage and mail it to my house? I don’t know either, but I made sure that’s exactly what Ticketmaster did.

4. Hotel safe fees

There are more than a few hotels out there that charge you just for the privilege of using their in-room safes – whether you use it or not. Here’s one hotel that charges $1.69 per night. What a joke. Whenever I see this fee, I ask to have it waived.

5. Tax e-filing fees

Among the most egregious fees out there are the ones that charge money for essentially doing nothing more than making a mouse click or pushing a couple of keys on a computer keyboard. How much money does it cost to send some bits of information through the Internet? Well, if you ask TurboTax, it’s $36.95. That’s what they charge to e-file a state tax return. So rather than printing out the return and sending it through the mail, I clenched my teeth and reluctantly paid it. Hey, if you paid attention you’ll find a lesson on opportunity cost buried in there.

6. Tax refund fees

After spending four hours doing my taxes with the online edition of TurboTax, I was due a refund. “Perfect!” I thought, “I’ll have TurboTax simply deduct what I owe them directly from my refund.” Unfortunately, it turns out TurboTax charges an additional $29.95 if you choose to go that route. My only other option was to pay by credit card – at no charge. How does that make any sense? So I paid with plastic. I hope TurboTax had to pay the credit card company an interchange fee for me using it too. Dummies.

7. Mortgage junk fees

There are dozens of mortgage junk fees out there, some more dubious than others, that make you scratch your head and ask what the heck is that for? Reconveyance verification fees, commitment fees, and the infamous “warehouse fee” are just three classic examples. (I know, I already mentioned them above – but I wanted to make it official.)

And then there’s this…

It’s bad enough that airlines almost universally charge fees to people who have the audacity to travel with luggage. But a while back, United, US Airways, and Delta took things a step further by charging their “valued” customers who chose to pay for their bags at the airport, rather than online, an additional fee of between $2 and $3 per bag.

That’s right, folks. A fee for paying a fee.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Anonymous

    I, too, do my taxes using Turbo Tax and paid, once, for e-filing my state return.  Then I learned that my state (Kansas) has a site at which you can file your state taxes fee-free, but it is not as “friendly” as Turbo Tax so I prepare my state return using Turbo Tax then fill out my state’s return online at the fee-free site and make sure all the numbers agree and viola, fee-free state income tax return filing.  Then, of course, I keep copies of both versions of my return clearly labeling the “official” one.

  • http://twitter.com/mharrsch mharrsch

    One “fee” that seems totally pointless but is ingrained in our home buying system is Title insurance.  I discovered through painful experience that if a lien or right-of-way has never been formally registered with the local court house so that it appears on the deed, title insurers say they are not liable for it.  ???  I thought that is what title insurance is for!!  

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7ZWYK5LUT22CGNST7KHJUFIXGE Aegis

      I’m curious. If the lien or right-of-way was never registered, then in what way is its existence established? What kind of losses did you suffer due to the flaw (loss of land or forced to share it, etc.)? Did you shop for title insurance when you purchased the land and did you go with one of the major providers (First American, Fidelity, LandAmerica)?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4Z7NAFOOYTZ4H4RK6YYTMGNEKI Matt

    Apparently, the writer of this article is, well…stupid. First off, there is NO reason to pay these and second,
    there are no mentions of any type of remedy to any of these fees. So,
    my fellow readers, allow me to go the extra mile the author didn’t to give you some. As far as taxes
    go, most states allow you, easily by the way, to simply file your taxes
    right from the state website. The IRS allows you to do the same thing.
    There is absolutely no fee involved. In addition there is no fee to
    have your refund sent directly to your checking/savings account. Most
    importantly, your not sending your crucial financial info over the
    internet via a third party website, your dealing directly with a state
    or federal site which is secure.

    When it comes to other “convenience”
    fees, most people settle on these because they automatically go to companies that advertise
    heavily, so they are more likely to be used. In most cases you can
    easily go to the direct website of whatever theater, movie theater or
    other venue and buy tickets directly from them without the extra charge.
    You just have to do a little more research is all. I don’t fly
    much…so I can’t speak for any relief on those, but I’m sure if you do a
    little looking around, anyone one of us can find some relief from some
    or all of those fees.

    Nice job Len…way to really put your journalistic prowess to the test on this one. Try a little harder next time

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_O3QRWGZ7OASPFAES2AFMWP2L24 .BiGEatS.

    Hello.
    You need to do better research before you slander and say TurboTax fees are too high.  Because……

      I work for Intuit(TurboTax).  You could not be more WRONG about number 5 and 6 in this article.

    Let me break it down for you…

    IF you use TURBOTAX ONLINE, you do NOT GET CHARGED TO e-FILE.

    FEDERAL AND STATE are free to efile with TurboTax ONLINE.

    You pay 36.95 to PURCHASE THE STATE PORTION OF YOUR TAX RETURN.  If you printed your state tax return, you would have NO FEES to efile.

    Secondly, Turbotax DESKTOP (CD or DOWNLOAD) will charge you 19.95 to efile your state.  The 19.95 is for EFILE ONLY. The Federal EFILE is free With the CD/DOWNLOAD of the product.

    SO for #5 you are completely WRONG.

    Lets get to #6.

    The fee of 29.95 for deducting your TT fees out of your refund is charged by the BANK NOT TURBOTAX.  We do not see a SINGLE CENT of that 29.95.   Yes, you either pay with CC or deduct it out of your refund… But Honestly, how would you suggest we let our customers purchase our product? Mail us a check?..

    Just thought I would inform whoever wrote that article, as to how inaccurate BOTH those number are.   

    DO SOME RESEARCH before you SLANDER TurboTax for the fees.  Hell if you would have CALLED THE 1800 Number, someone would have told you EXACTLY what i just did……

    Brian
    NY

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7ZWYK5LUT22CGNST7KHJUFIXGE Aegis

      You said: “You pay 36.95 to PURCHASE THE STATE PORTION OF YOUR TAX RETURN.  If you printed your state tax return, you would have NO FEES to efile.”

      Printing and mailing is not efiling. Isn’t the whole point of efiling to send the information electronically without ever needing a printer? Am I missing something here? Is there a way to efile using the printout? The author did say this was for state, not federal. As far as #6: The fee IS charged by Intuit and then, perhaps, passed on to a bank. And what bank? Intuit is a lender. Are you saying Intuit doesn’t use its own services?”But Honestly, how would you suggest we let our customers purchase our product?”The author didn’t have a problem with Intuit getting paid, merely that it makes no sense to charge for deducting it out of the return vs. not charging if paying by credit card. I agree that deducting it from the return makes no sense. Intuit sends me the refund minus their fees and they get the full refund from the IRS.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E4AWHPSWLPVA3KZADQGK6LJU4A S

     How about this…our mortgage company has taken to periodically charging us s $20fee for periodically sending out a person to make sure someone is living in the house! This person leaves a HANDWRITTEN note on a piece of spiral notebook paper that he/she was here and we usually find it lying outside the front door. WTH!

     YES we called about this but it is standard practice in their words to make sure someone is living in the home and maintaining it in this day and age of their words”foreclosure nightmares” … I’d like to know who I could call to sic on these people. Obama isn’t returning my calls! 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IOJZDUFCAMNGRVBTOQUVDHOET4 Felipe

    why would you get angry at any of these things, its either you are really broke, or just extremely cheap. keep buying crap online so you can save some gas, so you can keep sending more money directly to china, instead of leaving some to your local retailer.

  • Anonymous

    What about the fees on your phone bill I’m in NY : NY public safety Comm Surcharge – What is this? Is the phone company keeping me safe? There are two NYC 911 Surcharges  – Why should we have to pay for 911?! Federal USF surcharge, USF Long distance charge then just more untitled Surcharges. FCC Line charge.
    On the wireless – Fed Universal Charge, Regulatory Charge, Administrative charge and a gross receipts Surcharge. I once got a rep to give me credit for the gross receipts charge because she could not tell me what it was for.  These charges are more that a quarter of my bill!! I get so annoyed when I read through them. The service isn’t getting better it is deteriorating. My rant for the day