Recently, I renewed my XM Satellite Radio subscription. I had expected the service to cost $13 per month, since that was the amount the company advertised. I found out, however, that in addition to the $13, Sirius XM had implemented a new, monthly $2 “music royalty fee.” I was annoyed, but I grudgingly agreed to the new add-on charge and said, “Send me the bill.” Well, the Sirius XM rep replied, there was one more thing: I’d have to pay a $2 “invoice fee” if I wanted a paper bill mailed to my house.

That relatively reasonable $13-per-month service I thought I was signing up for ended up costing me $16.95 each month, or 30 percent more than expected, through fees that Sirius XM never bothered to mention in its pitches to renew.

Sneaky fees drive me mad. The number of these nickel-and-dime charges I pay each month has my head spinning. Where did all of the extra fees, charges, and taxes tacked onto my cable, wireless, and Internet bills come from?

Sneaky_Fees_2Sneaky-Fee Economy

Sneaky fees cost each U.S. resident an estimated $950 each year, according to the Ponemon Institute, a research group specializing in consumer privacy. They show up on bills under names like “OVS fees,” “network access charge,” or “federal subscriber line fees.” None of them are outlandish–maybe $1 here or $3.95 there. But they add up, boosting the total cost of your monthly wireless bill or of an airline ticket you book online far beyond what you thought you were going to spend.

For companies, such miscellaneous charges work like a charm, says Bob Sullivan, author of the book Gotcha Capitalism. “How does a $39 cable bill become a $70 bill? How does a $55 wireless plan cost you $75? The answer is fees,” he says. According to Sullivan, surveyed companies from ten markets make $45 billion annually in hidden fees.

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