Surcharges and hidden fees are a growing form of false advertisementsmall print
In 2006, the Ponemon Institute conducted a study in which it discovered that every year, any given adult likely pays close to $942 in hidden fees and surcharges. Most of these surcharges will be spread out over large numbers of smaller products, with the actual hidden fees being quite small in value, as well. But surcharges will accrue very quickly when consumers are continuously buying products which feature such charges.
This is the danger of hidden fees, as when they are so small in amount, and very well hidden from the consumer, that it is likely most consumers will not even realize that they are paying for any such charges, and will continue to pay unknowingly.
Combating such surcharges and hidden fees is also problematic, because for any given individual, most of the time these hidden fees are not worth the amount of money it would take to prove their existence to a court of law. Most of the time, the best way for consumers to attempt to receive restitution for paying hidden fees or surcharges is with a class-action lawsuit against the perpetrating companies, as this will likely bring together more consumers who can split the burden of the costs for the lawsuit amongst themselves (see also charges
An example of an oft-implemented form of surcharges used in today's world is that of overdraft fees at banks. Overdraft fees are incurred when a given checking account becomes overdrawn. Whereas previously, many banks would simply reject any transaction that might lead to an overdrawn account, now banks often support such transactions, and then charge the account with an overdraft fee of up to $35, in an attempt to get more money out of the consumer.
These overdraft fees are considered surcharges for the fact that the consumer would likely have expected that any transactions beyond available funds would simply have failed, and would not have expected to have to pay even more money as a result of such hidden fees. Furthermore, banks can exacerbate the issue in the ways that they process deposits and transactions, as processing transactions prior to deposits can lead to more overdraft fees on the account, thus earning the bank more money. Such surcharges are damaging to the consumer, and across America victims have been taking steps to stand against these practices.