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Fee Ninjas — The Phone Bill Bandits

App Ninja
The fiendish Fee Ninjas, deadly and devoted servants of subterfuge, sneaking extra charges onto your bill and vanishing in a puff of red ink. Hiding in the terms and conditions, and striking from the small print, the Fee Ninjas can really hurt… unless you know how to fight back.

Thanks to the technological advances of the last decade, worrying about paying for long distance calls is for many people a thing of the past. Most phone plans cover all calls made within the country (and some of them for anywhere in the world), and so with no long distance charges to worry about, phone bills must be plummeting, right?

Wrong. Phone bills grow ever higher, as the phone companies find new things to charge for, and the Fee Ninjas attack harder and faster than ever, trying to wrestle away every extra dollar you have. But you can fight back by knowing how these devious devils get your money.

Cramming

Did you know outside parties can slip charges into your monthly bill? Its not only true, it’s getting worse by the month. It’s called “cramming” and involves companies tricking you with fine print and signing you up for a phantom monthly charge. When signing up for advertising in the phone book or even entering a sweep stakes, checking the wrong box could mean you have been hornswaggled by the Fee Ninjas into an additional fee on your bill.

You never know when cramming may strike, so scour your phone bill every month to see if there are charges that weren’t there before. And if it does become a problem for you, contact your phone service provider and tell them to turn off “third party billing” which should prevent outside businesses from sneaking into your bill.

Early Termination

Every month there is a new phone company offering a new, spectacular deal. Probably better than the deal you currently have. To prevent wanderlust, most major carriers require lengthy contracts. So if a consumer wants to switch to a new phone service provider, they will have to pay a fee to terminate that contract. This can range from $50 to hundreds of dollars.

Universal Connectivity or Universal Service Fund fee

The federal government requires that telecommunication companies pay a certain percentage of their income, to put toward phone and internet service for poor and rural areas. The telecom companies pass that 7% along to their customers, and then add on a couple extra percentage points just to make some extra money.

Overage fees

Overage Fee Ninja Stars
Talk for too many minutes on the phone, send too many text messages, or download too much data, and the phone company can charge you excessive fees. Know your limits, or better yet find an unlimited plan that doesn’t require you worry about how many songs you download.

Roaming

If you have not yet gotten a nationwide (or international) calling plan, you are still subject to roaming fees. If you are lucky enough to not know what roaming fees are, then count your blessings.

Junk Fees

They have been branded “junk fees” because no one can figure out specifically what they are supposed to be. Verizon charges some users a “Federal Line Subscriber Charge,” which isn’t Federally mandated, it’s just another charge from the company. What does “Supplier Surcharge” even mean? Other suspicious keywords to look out for include “access charge,” “other fees,” and “activation fees” – especially if you don’t remember activating anything in the last month.

Payment Fees

Does your phone company charge you to pay your bill every month? More and more providers are sneaking extra fees in wherever they can, including charging people extra for paying their bill. Making a payment over the phone to an operator can cost you as much as $5, but even using your smartphone to pay online may cost you a $2 “convenience fee.” Convenient for who? This is part of an effort to drive customers towards using automatic bill pay, which may be a problem itself.

Automatic Bill Pay

Some companies will charge a fee every month unless you sign up for direct bill pay. In this case, it may be worth it to pay the fee. When your phone bill is paid automatically, you do not have the option of reviewing all the charges first. The money is taken, after which you can actually look at the bill. If your bill has been crammed, over-charged, or been assaulted by the Fee Ninjas, you have no way of getting that money back. If you review your bill every month before paying, it may end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.

 

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