All posts by Paula Pant

Take Charge: Week of June 24

Welcome to this week’s roundup of news about hidden fees and fine print. Fine Print: How Can You “Guarantee” an Unopened Product? Have you ever read a set of terms and conditions that just make zero logical sense? That’s what we’re featuring in this week’s edition of the Fine Print, in which we’re showcasing a

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Fine Print: How Can You “Guarantee” a Product That’s Not Opened?

Welcome to another edition of the Fine Print, where we shine a magnifying glass on that tiny font in light grey lettering that lurks at the bottom of your order forms. This week, we look at the fine print underneath a 30-day money-back guarantee! As you can see, the company will “refund your product purchase

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Take Charge — Week of June 17

Welcome to Take Charge, our weekly newsletter that covers the latest in fees, fine print and grey charges! Happy Father’s Day! Buying dad a gift for Father’s Day? Be careful … the last thing you want to do is lock him into an auto-renewal that he can’t escape! And you’ll probably enjoy the holiday more

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Happy Father's Day! Watch for These Fees When Buying Dad a Gift …

In honor of Father’s Day, we’d like to review the types of hidden fees, fine print and grey charges that’s most likely to impact dear ol’ dad. #1: Sports and Concert Ticket Fees We know, we know — both men and women love sports games and concerts. But a decent number of people decided that

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3 Types of Bank Fees You Might Not Know About

You may think you’re aware of most bank fees. You avoid ATM fees, overdraft fees and late-payment fees. You’ve sidestepped monthly service fees, lost debit-card fees and check reordering fees. You’ve even devoted the time to learn the excruciating difference between your bank’s minimum daily balance, minimum combined balance and minimum average monthly balance requirements.

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Take Charge – Week of June 10

Welcome to Take Charge, our weekly roundup of news related to hidden fees and grey charges. “Free” Costs Up to $240 a Year In last week’s Fine Print feature, we ran an example of a company that claimed they’d send you free supplementary products. They even wrote the word “free” in all capital letters! But

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Who the Heck is This Credit Card Charge From?

If you travel as much as I do and use your credit card for every purchase from apples to zebras, you know it’s rare to recognize the name of a merchant listed on your credit card statement. For example, you may go to a restaurant by the name of Dave’s Bar and Grill and get

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The Fine Print: By "Free," We Mean $156 – $240 a Year

Welcome to the Fine Print, our look at some of the sneaky or confusing grey charges buried in small font. This week’s example comes from a company that offers a six-month guarantee. The guarantee states that if you’re not satisfied with the product, they’ll send you FREE supplementary products — not just once, but as a

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Take Charge – Week of June 3

Welcome to our Take Charge newsletter, a weekly roundup of news about fees, fine print and other hidden charges. The Fine Print: Refunds vs. Cancellations Here’s some trivia: Cancellations don’t generate refunds. But refunds trigger cancellations. Clear as mud, right? Yeah, we thought so too. Here’s how it works: Let’s imagine that you have a

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The Fine Print: Refunds vs. Cancellations

Welcome to the Fine Print, a peek at confusing grey charges written in tiny font at the bottom of your screen. Imagine that you’re unsatisfied with a recurring subscription, so you call the company and ask to cancel. You expect that you’ll get a refund. But you may not. You see, if you ask for

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Take Charge – Week of May 27

First of all, we’d like to take a moment this Memorial Day to extend a deep and heartfelt thanks to all the United States servicemen and servicewomen to whom this day is dedicated. Now we proceed to our regularly scheduled Take Charge newsletter, a weekly roundup of news about fees, fine print and other unknown

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Beware of Unknown Credit Card Subscriptions

The sales industry is fascinating. When it’s done well, you receive great value and both parties leave the transaction feeling happy. But the tactics some merchants use are downright manipulative and often veer into illegal territory. For example, you might see an infomercial on TV for vitamins. The ad targets the elderly and promises something

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Charges, Explained: PayPal Fees

Thousands of people use PayPal to make online purchases. It feels safer and more secure. But how well do you understand PayPal fees? PayPal never charges a fee to a buyer, but it does charge some fairly hefty fees if you want to transfer money or sell items. 1. Debit/Credit Card Fee –  Are you

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Take Charge – Week of May 20

Welcome to Take Charge, a weekly roundup of the latest news about hidden fees and other grey charges. BillGuard to Integrate with Google Wallet Last week, BillGuard announced a new integration with Google Wallet. This integration will help protect Google Wallet users from grey charges and strengthen the crowdsourced analytics that allows us to protect

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Fine Print: You're Always One Month Ahead

Welcome to the Fine Print, a feature in which BillGuard shares examples of grey charges in the making. Imagine that you snag a “free trial offer” for a two-month supply of a particular product. You expect, logically, that the trial period for a two-month supply should last for two months, right? Well, it doesn’t. The

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Charges, Explained: Hidden Gym Fees

Congratulations – you’ve decided to get in shape. You want to run the 8-minute mile, bench press your body weight and swim 30 laps continuously. To hit those goals, you sign up for a gym membership – only to discover that you’ve entered the land of hidden fees. From sign-up fees to termination fees, let’s

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Take Charge: Week of May 6

Welcome to Take Charge, a weekly roundup of the latest news about hidden fees and other grey charges. Questions about Concert Surcharges? Wondering what all those extra surcharges and fees on your concert ticket are for? In our latest article, we explain “service charges,” “processing charges” and even small fees and charges that you’ve probably

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Entertainment Ticketing, Explained

Buying a ticket to see a show?  You might discover a laundry list of ordering surcharges. In today’s electronic world, online vendors are king. Massive ticketing businesses (including one that shall remain unnamed) charge you extra fees for the privilege of buying from their website. Here are some examples of surcharges you can expect to

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Take Charge: Week of April 29

Welcome to Take Charge, a weekly roundup of the latest news about hidden fees and other grey charges. What’s a Micro-Charge? A “micro” charge is a small grey charge on your credit card — as tiny as 2 cents, ranging up to $10. Micro grey charges often go unnoticed because they’re so small. If people

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Customers Buying Choices Impacted By Airline Fees, Survey Finds

Airline baggage fees are such an irritation that they’re changing the reasons people buy luggage, a new study finds. Travelers once bought their luggage based on style and quality. The cost of carrying the bag around with them was a distant concern. Yet according to a 2012 survey from Suitcase.com, more than 50 percent of

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