Sneaky Fees: 7 New Ways You're Paying More
2. 3G Fees
Everyone's excited about the new "low-cost" 3G phones--but the devices aren't quite as economical as they seem. Take the G1 Android phone: T-Mobile has spent plenty of time touting the handset's bargain $180 base price, but it has been a lot less vocal about the activation fees that raise the price to $215. On top of that, users must pay a minimum of $25 more per month for data access than they would for a regular voice-only cell phone, which subtracts $600 more from your pocket over the course of the two-year required contract.
T-Mobile is not alone. AT&T pulled a similar trick with its new iPhone 3G, playing up its lower sticker price (compared with the first-generation iPhone), but soft-pedaling its higher monthly service fee: "They raised the price of their subscription and lowered the price of the gadget," Sullivan points out. "Ultimately, after a year, your price would be higher."
Marketing brilliance? Maybe. But 3G fans may not share a publicist's admiration for the tactic.
3. Blu-ray Bucks
Netflix subscribers who request Blu-ray movies will be hit with extra charges starting in November. The movie-by-mail company recently tacked on a dollar-per-month surcharge for users who rent high-def discs. You can opt out if you want, but not ponying up the extra dollar means no more Blu-ray discs for you.
4. Electric Charge
Keeping your gadgets juiced may already be costing you more than in the recent past. Four months ago, USA Today reported that utilities across the United States were poised to raise their rates for electricity by up to 29 percent. The reason? The utilities want to recoup fuel costs, build new power plants to meet higher demand, and update old power grids. So if you use a computer or other electronics at home, you're probably seeing a higher monthly bill.
5. Tricky Travel
Surfing to travel sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity may make it easier to find the right flight--but you may be paying for that convenience on your final bill. A significant shift has occurred in the ticket booking market from years past, when third-party providers often saved consumers dough. Most third-party services now stick you with a scarcely mentioned booking fee ranging from $5 to $25 per ticket. But5 don't try to avoid it by calling the airline directly: Most phone-based booking lines now charge extra, too, as do the agents at the airport counters. These days, the simplest fee-free option is to buy directly through the airline's site. (Of course, you can still use the third-party services to search and shop around before switching to the airline's site to close the deal.)