Grey Charges Around the Web

BillGuard isn’t the only blog that writes about hidden fees, unwanted auto-renewals and other types of grey charges. Here’s a roundup of three fantastic personal finance websites that have written about the same thing recently –

1. Unwanted Auto-Renewals

J. Money, a pseudonymous blogger who writes the popular site Budgets are Sexy, said that he accidentally allowed a magazine to auto-renew, at a price tag of $39.95.

“Dumb dumb dumb,” he writes on his website. “Wasn’t paying attention and got stuck w/ a high renewal rate for a magazine … that would literally cost $14.95 had just canceled it and started afresh again through Amazon.”

The irony of the story? It was a magazine about budgeting and personal financial management!

You can read his story here. Don’t forget to check out the comments on that post, too, where some of his readers share their own tales about unwanted auto-renewals.

2. ANOTHER Unwanted Auto-Renewal, Despite Her Cancellation Request

Amy Jeanroy writes about herb gardens for Not surprisingly, she subscribes to a handful of magazines about – you guessed it! – herb gardening.

Last year she noticed that one of those magazines automatically renewed itself, despite the fact that she didn’t want it to.

“I called to check the charges,” she writes, “and was told that since it had already gone though, I could not change it.”

She chalked that up to a loss, but resolved not to let it happen the following year. “At that time, I told the person to please cancel my auto renew for 2013,” she says.

Fast-forward to the year 2013, and guess what happened? It auto-renewed again! You can read Amy’s experience here.

3. Unauthorized SMS Subscriptions

A senior writer at Wisebread, one of the largest personal finance sites on the web, asks: Are You Getting Charged by a Text Message Scam?

The writer, Xin Lu, says:

“I got a text that … said that I signed up for a $9.99-a-month service called Bingoroo, which I never did.”

She called her carrier, which informed her that a third-party company had decided to sign her up for a monthly subscription through her cellular service. The truly frightening part? If she hadn’t caught it, the third-party could have continued billing her for as long as it wanted to.

“Essentially, for these text message services, having someone’s phone number is as good as having their credit card,” she writes.

You can read her full story here.

The Federal Communications Commission refers to this as cellular phone scam as a “cramming charge,” a problem that has grown so insidious that the FCC has issued specific directives warning customers to stay on high alert for these types of charges.

The FCC estimates that 15 to 20 million American households have unauthorized cramming charges on their phone bill. The FCC estimates that only 1 out of 20 people is aware that they’re falling victim to a cramming scam.


Protect yourself from grey charges with BillGuard.