smart spending

5 costly service fees and how to buck them

Watch for hefty service fees
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Watch for hefty service fees

Paying to check in airline luggage may be the best-known service fee consumers face regularly, but it's not the only one. Almost any transaction can come with a small fee that may not be costly but can really add up if you have to make the transaction often.

"I think they're nickel-and-diming you to death," said Lisa Flowers-Latorre, a marketing expert in Milford, Del., who estimates she pays $120 a year in online fees to do business.

In recent years, added fees have become a hidden way for companies to increase prices without actually increasing prices, says Mitch Lipka, a longtime consumer advocate and editor of The Consumer Chronicle. He says fees aren't generally regulated and are add-ons companies disclose in the fine print of consumers' contracts.

The best thing consumers can do is watch for them. Here are some annoying service fees for simple services that were once free and ways you can avoid them.


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