GREENSBORO, NC -- You know BLACK Friday is all about spending a lot of GREEN. But chances are, GREY charges are costing you all throughout the year.
Local financial professional Craig Moser from Maestro Wealth Advisors says, "This is a new and growing trend of sneaky, unwanted, but completely legal fees that are catching many consumers by surprise. Companies know that people are busy and don't have time to read every page of the disclosure."
Five types of grey charges:
1. Unknown Subscriptions: This is one to look out for, especially when shopping online- another offer or discount at checkout. You usually have to click or unclick the box. Be careful- if you don't read the fine print you could be agreeing to another purchase!
2. Zombie Subscriptions: You cancel a subscription, let's say a magazine subscription or gym membership and you aren't being charged for a few months - but then a few months later, it's back from the dead and you are being charged again. It's usually an oversight or mistake on the part of the company, but unless you catch it and point it out, you're giving your money away without getting anything for it.
3. Auto-Renewals: This occurs when you sign up for a service that bills you monthly or quarterly. Some retailers will not contact you before each payment is due- simply charging your card and sticking you with the charge because you were "too late".
4. Free to Paid: Warning!! When you are getting something for free and you have to cough up your credit card, there is usually a catch! It may be free for a trial before it converts into a permanent subscription. This is the most common type of grey charge out there!
5. Cost Creep: You think you're signing up for a monthly subscription for a particular amount like $5.99, but the cost creeps up slowly each month to $6.99 or $7.99. You may not realize because the company doesn't advertise the increase each month - but it's in the fine print.
Here's why you don't notice these "grey charges". The dollar amounts are small, usually between $12 and $18 a charge.
"But mostly because people don't really look at their credit card bills or bank statements. Nine out of 10 people say at most they skim their statements, mostly just looking for large purchases. That means those grey charges are slipping past you!
So, what should you do? First, pay attention! Nothing is free!
Monitor your purchases that means really look at those credit card and debit card statements.
Read the fine print.
Get cancellations in writing, it will eliminate the he said-she said scenario if you need to get a refund.
If you find an unknown or unauthorized charge, report it immediately.
Use a credit card instead of debit card, they offer more consumer protection.