If you are like most people, finding extra charges tacked on when you pay your bills is maddening. ATM to a dime or two for that slice of tomato on your burger, companies squeeze every nickel out of customers they can. This season we thought we would shine a light on some of the most onerous charges known to mankind.
Everyone out there should be asking the question; “Am I sick to death of the lies and deceit?” After reading this, let us know your personal stories when you have the time.
One: The latest in a long line of “extra” charges by major companies hit the presses today. Verizon Wireless not only wants your mobile bill paid, but will now levy an additional $2 charge on you if it is paid via credit or debit card. Beginning January 15, 2012, the US’s largest wireless company will snatch many millions from some of their 90 million customers. If 30 million of those use Visa to pay? You do the math. Rated on a scale of one to ten for evil – this new charge is only about a 5 out of 10.
Two: Banks. If you are reading this, whether you are rich or poor, even the sound resonates doesn’t it? But, if you are not rich banks have always seemed to have it in for you, right? A recent study indicates that hidden bank fees are pushing the working poor into the veritable financial street. This Time Moneyland article speaks of a study by Pew Charitable Trusts that goes so far as to call banks “sneaky” in their fee charges. The research (PDF) calls to question the voluminousness of most banking disclosure documentation. 111 pages of data to find those hidden fees is, onerous.
Another story on Moneyland suggests many people in this category actually trust pawn shops more than traditional banks. At least when the pawn broker steals your family heirlooms you know who is robbing you. On the doing evil scale, banks of any kind will always rate a 10 out of 10.
Three: Airlines have become notorious experts at the art of charging for everything but air. Ryanair, EasyJet, and some other companies were chastized recently by the UK government for what were deemed unfair charges, the legislators are to slap a ban on some of these fees. Canada’s CAA will require complete transparency for Canada carriers by 2012 according to this report. Fares there sometimes equal twice what the advertised price suggests, according to CTV-ca. Baggage to printing your ticket out on your own home printer, the airlines are up there with banks in the doing evil to customers zone. Airline fees rank at about 9 out of 1o.
Four: Commuting. People who ride the train or mass transit, buying into the whole green movement – or just trying to get by – the millions around the world that take the train are being hammered over the head too. News from New Jersey paints a grim picture for middle income commuters there. The federal commuter tax benefit being reduced there ends up in almost doubling charges for tens of thousands who ride to work. Meanwhile, UK rail riders pay up to 10 times as much as their European counterparts, just to be economical. On the scale, rail fees are but a 6 of 10 evil comparatively.
Five: Hidden hotel fees are making a big comeback too. According to a recent article in CNN Money, US guests will fork over nearly $1.8 billion in added fees for things like using the hotel pool and towels this year. While all fees may not be exactly “hidden” – many are at best obscured by paperwork or by your own inability to take time to read or ask. Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, according to the CNN report, actually charges something like $10 – not for that bag of chips you took from the mini-bar – but to restock. On a scale of one to ten, the rise in hotel fees sits at about a 9 0f 10.
Six: Healthcare costs. If anyone has been hit hard by the “Great Recession” it is Ireland. In an ever descending series of economic idiocy, the Irish have been beset with one calamity after another. For the poor there, the news only gets worse. According to the Independent, the government there has resorted to what amounts to hidden insurance fees most detrimental to the already struggling underprivileged. Included in the governments budget for 2012 were veritable hidden cuts in; benefits for children, one parent families, fuel allotments, child clothing allowances, and even job-seeker benefits. Ireland apparently has as evil a government as the airlines do bean counters. As evil on humans goes, this is another 10 out of 10.
Seven: Renting a car will either cost you $29.99 a day, or your first born. From fuel charges to geographical limitations, rental car companies are famous for finding ways to alienate customers. This report sheds light on a plethora of charges people have come to expect from their part time car suppliers. On a personal note, paying twice what gas costs just because I was late and could not stop at a station, this is evil. And this story in the Maui News tells of companies bumping up their rates for the holidays. Rent-A-Car evil is only a 7 out of 10 however.
Eight: Online travel agency fees are not something everyone knows about, but they do exist. Beside the commissions service providers pay the likes of Expedia and Orbitz (sometimes as much as 25%), travelers foot bills so obscure as to be near impossible to understand. This report from a consumer advocate, Vincent McDonald, tells of his experience booking with Expedia. Data Explorers offers still more fee wonderment from Priceline, Hertz, and others. Orbitz and about a million other travel entities were recently fined for advertising that was cloudy and nebulous. Given our involvement in travel, for us, OTA and other travel abuses are at least a 9 out of 10. This is true mainly because extra fees are so unnecessary (see GHX adoption).
Nine: Inestimable costs to humanity. This category is without a doubt occupied by some of the biggest evil doers in history. Bold, I know, but take a look at what Chevron has apparently been up to. In case you do not know, Mother Earth is about done in by corporate greed. This being said, Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park is one of the last bastions of biodiversity and wonder left. According to a multi-billion dollar court case there, Chevron may be up to hidden fees you and I pay (the cost of a dead planet) far exceeding all the others mentioned in this article.
At the core of this case, the apparent evil exerted by Chevron in “egregious environmental crimes and rights abuses,” as SFGate’s Mitch Anderson reports it. If the allegations and Wikileaks evidence holds up, Chevron may even exceed BP Oil in evildoing – read this site and then tell us if 11 of 10 is too harsh for Chevron? Watch the trailer above to the award winning film Crude.
Ten: Obscured costs of the so called War on Terror from its inception, now here’s a can of worms we should all speak of. Whatever your political persuasion, your stance on the Middle East, the military, anything – there’s no escaping the hidden costs everyone succumbs to from this world changing war. Even the official tally (PDF) is staggering. §1.5 trillion tossed into the air – spent on enough weapons to obliterate whole societies. The DOD has forked over king’s ransoms since 2001.
Toss in other obscured costs like healthcare ones tied to Iraq and Afghanistan (about $500 billion), and very quickly the deficit Americans are staggered by takes clearer form. Without running off into a new dissertation, the evil potential of Iraq and Afghanistan is off the scale. 100 out of 10. Already the War on Terror has affected us far in excess of the Vietnam Conflict, and what’s worse are the hidden aspects.