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Sneaky ways to pad a bill

April 6th, 2018 at 02:06 pm

Lately I'm finding more and more businesses pad their bills with all sorts of nickel and dime fees which really add up.

Today, I encountered two such fees having to do with my plumber and the local movie theater.

My plumber was here and is gone, and I have nice new shower trim in the bath/shower. I was a little perturbed about the bill. He was here exactly 1 hour and I knew their rate was $100/hr., but he wrote 1.5 hours on the bill. This is the part that really bothers me. That extra half hour appeared on the bill as if it was part of the labor they were charging me. When I brought it up, he explained that they bill for driving time.

I know their location and it's 15 minutes away. Why should I pay $100/hr for driving time? So after writing the plumber a check, I let him go and called their office, spoke to the manager there and he agreed to void the check I'd written if I paid him over the phone, and he would not charge me the $50 driving fee.

I was glad about that, but am thinking in the future I should make a point to find a plumber right in my home town and ask on the phone whether they're going to charge for the drive over. It just seems rather sneaky since the office manager did not mention this fee when I asked him about cost over the phone, and even on the invoice, it did not disclose that fee; it just indicated "1.5 hours" when I knew he'd been here exactly 1 hour.

The only time I remember ever having to pay an extra driving charge was when gas prices were really high, years ago. It just seems like another opportunity for them to pad the bill. I mean, they're going to have to drive somewhere for every customer call; it comes with the territory. What will they have customers do next, pay extra for the electricity in the office?

Today is my dad's birthday, so as a treat, I'm picking him up later today so we can catch the new Chappaquiddick movie. It wouldn't normally be my first choice, but he likes historical dramas, and this was the only thing of that genre playing at the new theater in his town.

Their new "order online" feature was available, so I thought, great. I can avoid making dad stand around when i wait in line for the tickets. But then I saw the theater charges a $1.50 "convenience charge" for each online ticket ordered, so an extra $3.

I wrote and complained about that too. You would think they would want to encourage people to order online since that lessens the needs for a live person standing behind the counter selling tickets. Perhaps with enough online orders, they could get by with 1 person selling tickets instead of 2.

I've also run into convenience fees when I pay for my heating oil with a credit card. In fact, I only accidentally discovered it would be cheaper to pay by check. So now I always ask various service providers if they offer a discount if you pay "in cash," which often includes paying by check.

Have you encountered similar kinds of fees that often fall under the radar if you're not careful?

7 Responses to “Sneaky ways to pad a bill”

  1. Laura Says:

    My water bill is $8 more if it is paid online.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    Yes, there are extra fees all around and many can be avoided. Usually the fees are for extra services that cost the business more money. Should they charge more to those who don't use it just because they want it for their other customers who are demanding it?

    My sister and law and her husband run a lawn care business, and yes when gas prices were sky high they did charge a small surcharge for gas knowing this was likely a temporary cost to their business. And that was true. So instead of raising rates, which customers dislike, they charged an extra for short period of time.

    Market forces help control costs. And as consumers it is our job to keep track of our own money, no one else will care more.

  3. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    My DH is a pizza delivery driver - there are delivery fees added to each ticket based on distance.(they deliver up to a town 15 miles away from their store)

  4. crazyliblady Says:

    My trash company bills for 3 months at a time in advance. Apparently, since we get a paper bill and pay with a check, they bill us for a paper bill. I am assuming they are trying to cut the labor costs involved in a person folding the bill and putting it in the mail. I may be old fashioned, but I want a paper bill and a paper trail showing I paid the bill. We don't have a printer at home, so I can't pay online and print it out.

  5. crazyliblady Says:

    I forgot to mention that the "paper bill fee" is $2.00.

  6. PatientSaver Says:

    Crazylibilady, you could do a screen shot of the screen showing that you paid the bill and save that as a Word doc to your computer files. So you could save yourself a few bucks by paying online and you would have a paper trail.

  7. rob62521 Says:

    Good catch on your part for the plumbing bill. That is crazy to charge that much.

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