Saturday, August 23, 2008

Schiesty Tricks in Today's Economy

It seems like prices are rising, fees are increasing, new fees are being added. Penalty fees, convenience fees, late fees, unexplained "taxes" you name it.
In this economy where everyone is squeezed, the nickel-and-dime game is on! ...and banks lead the pack. Let me point out a few I have run into:
1. The check you wrote does not show up in your account until after paycheck comes in, but overdraft fee assessed anyway because the bank claimed they received the check the day before. (California Coast Credit Union- my mom)
2. You use your ATM card to withdraw cash and it goes through. You find your account overdrawn and charges assessed because the bank has automatically enrolled everyone in an "overdraft privilege" program. (Bayport Credit Union)
3. You try to use your check card as a debit card most places so you don't have to worry about charges coming in later, only to find out that your bank is delaying the posting of your debit transactions. You haven't kept the receipt so you now have to guess when balancing your account. (Bayport Credit Union)
4. You go to the zoo and notice the parking lot is crawling with meter maids- even though the parking is free. Upon closer inspection you find they are writing tickets for expired registrations, broken lights, missing front license plates, etc. (San Diego Zoo/San Diego Police Parking Enforcement)
5. You have a cell phone plan that includes unlimited text messaging, titled the "Select" plan. You upgrade your "Select" plan to the one with more minutes and being seeing charges for megabytes downloaded. Turns out, they changed the fine print of the plan to count data usage separately, rather then using your minutes as it had before. (Verizon)
6. You take your wife to the doctor at the hospital complex. You park in the garage and get your ticket, but your doctor doesn't validate tickets even though they lease an office in one of the buildings the parking garage serves. The gift shop downstairs won't validate it because you didn't buy anything from them. So you buy something and it get validated, and find out at the attendant booth that it is only good for 30 minutes free. (Sharp Grossmont Hospital)
7. You go to a fast food place for a hamburger combo, which is $5.99. You ask for cheese, and the price of your combo ends up at $6.69. You ask why cheese is 70 cents and are told they put two slices on your burger. You ask for one slice only but they don't seem to listen or revise your total. You pay the $6.69+tax and pull off, and find that your burger only has one slice of cheese. (Burger King)

It doesn't help when your boss says you can't do half-lunches anymore because the payroll needs to look good, or when the place that was going to give you $50 for a blood draw calls and cancels because they have decided they have too many people (Covance).

Thank goodness I am not doing business with an airline right now... unfortunately it will only get nastier out there, I fear. One must have the precision of a lawyer to avoid getting gipped these days... it means reading the fine print and asking the unlikely questions BEFORE doing business.

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