You’ve probably gotten a bill and were shocked by just how much more it was than you expected (which is common for the power bill at this time of year, but sadly that is more from actual use than from fees). The most common reason for excessive costs are fees. For example, when I first started working at home, I alerted my car insurance company, and they dropped the price by almost $50. We enjoyed the savings for one cycle (6 months). With the start of the new cycle, our bill was right back to the amount that it used to be, even though we didn’t change a single aspect of our policy. The company had found several fees they could tack on that increased the cost of our policy by $50. Fortunately it was easy to switch to a different company, but it was a real hassle all the same.
Dropping a company is not always an option, especially if you are locked into a particular plan through a cable or cellphone company (and that is exactly why we don’t have cable and why our cellphone carrier is a company that doesn’t have contracts). While you may be stuck with the company for now, there are a few things you can do to fight those unfair costs they tack on to your bill.
Contact the Company for an Explanation
It is possible the fee is an honest mistake. Other times, there are new rules and regulations that are legitimate changes that the company has to make. You are familiar with this when you buy a plane ticket or a house, so the concept should be familiar. The question is whether or not the fee is legitimate. If you cannot get a clear answer or if the justification is questionable, it is probably time to start pushing back.
Review Your Bills and Compare Costs
The first time you get a bill, you should always look it over for fees. This is when most companies tack them on to your bill and when you are most likely to successfully fight them. For example, if you have a credit card bill that includes a fee for paying over the phone, but you always pay online, you can contact the company and request a refund since you don’t use the service. They are only allowed to charge you when you use the feature.
Check the Fine Print
This one is going to take time, but it is how most companies get you. If you look over your fees the first time, you can get an explanation and get fees resolved before things get too bad. If they point you to the fine print and you find that they are right, see if you can cancel the service entirely. For certain things you actually have a seven day window from the time you sign a contract to cancel it. If you can get a preview of your bill or if you make the time to read the fine print you will find out if you should cancel before you have to make the first payment.