How to Fight Hidden Charges - NBC 7 San Diego

Consumer Bob helps to save you money and time

How to Fight Hidden Charges

Looking for "grey charges" on your bill



    How to Fight Hidden Charges
    These questionable charges are often for small amounts, less likely to draw attention to the average consumer.

    Ron Ferkovich has owned his San Diego barber shop for decades.  While he's detailed in his haircuts, he's also detailed paying his bills. Ferkovich says he sits at the dining room table with a cup of coffee and looks over his credit card bills.

    "I go through all of them," Ferkovich said. " I'm very, very careful."

    But sometimes Ferkovich finds a bill that doesn't make sense, like the automatic withdrawals from his credit card after he'd canceled his health club membership.

    "I called them up and said, 'Listen, I canceled this two months ago and you still have me on the bills,'" Ferkovich said.  He said they refunded him the money.

    Small Gray Charges Add to Bills

    [DGO] Small Gray Charges Add to Bills
    NBC 7 reporter Consumer Bob talks to Steve Sexton about unexpected charges that can show up on cell phone bills.
    (Published Tuesday, May 7, 2013)

    Financial Planner Steve Sexton with the Sexton Advisory Group says many of us pay "grey charges," bills for things we didn't order or don't want.

    "I had a client today who told me about a book he purchased and next thing you know, they had a $10 a month subscription," Sexton said. 

    He said consumers often are confused with ordering online.  Sometimes people agree to additional charges or services when they order because they don't read the fine print or click the wrong box.

    Sexton says his wife and two children recently signed up for a phone ring tone they thought was for a dollar a month. "The next thing you know we're getting charged $9.99 a month per cell phone."

    Grey charges are often associated with magazine orders.  "Zombie Subscriptions" end up on a consumers bill after they think they have canceled the order or service.  Sexton also warns his clients about any order that promises a "free" trial membership.

    "If  they want your credit card up front for something that is free, you know they are going to charge you," Sexton said.

    Dropping those charges isn't always easy.  You have to be aggressive questioning an unfamiliar bill.  Sometimes that means calling the company or filing a complaint with your credit card.