On Your Side: Looking out for hidden charges - WFSB 3 Connecticut

On Your Side: Looking out for hidden charges

Frank Iacovella of Farmington looks over his Comcast bill. Frank Iacovella of Farmington looks over his Comcast bill.

Bill adjustments and hidden charges in bank or credit card statements could be costing people hundreds of dollars a year.

Frank Iacovella, of Farmington, has been a long-time Comcast customer, but recently he has been receiving monthly bills with a different amount.

"I never change anything," said Iacovella. "I don't ask for anything extra, I don't have a special program."

Iacovella has called Comcast each month to have the amount corrected, but only because he pays careful attention.

"On a monthly basis I go through this aggravation, I don't think it's fair," said Iacovella.

Roger Cowen of Cowen Tax Group said Iacovella isn't the only victim of these "gray charges."

"Gray charges are a new and growing trend," said Cowen. "Consumers are finding sneaky charges popping up on their accounts as a big surprise to them after the fact."

Some different kinds of gray charges to look out for include, zombie subscriptions, cost creep and free to paid.  

Zombie subscriptions are subscriptions customers think they have canceled but come back months later.

Cost creeps are when companies sign up customers for a service at one price, then creep it up slowly every month.

Free to paid are services that may have been free when customers signed up, but cost money later on.

These "gray charges" seem so apparent that customers should catch them, however, that is not the case.

"Our lives are so busy," said Cowen. "There is so much information that we don't take time to read our statements or the fine print."

The Cowen Tax Group recently had their own situation with a gray charge. The tax group used FreeShipping.com to order office chairs since the site offered free shipping, but only for the first month.

"I saw that they were going to charge me for that service," said Sylvia Messinger of Cowen Tax Group. "So, I told them I wanted it canceled, we got billed for it for four months."

The tax group caught the charge on their statement and avoided a monthly bill that could have added up quickly.

"You think it's taken care of and then it's not," said Messinger. "You're totally unaware of it."

The regional manager of FreeShipping.com told Eyewitness News that they will be refunding the Cowen Tax Group's charges.

Iacovella and Comcast worked out his paperwork. Comcast said Iacovella had a promotion that expired, which caused his bill to increase.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Comcast spokesperson Kristen Roberts said, "Comcast clearly states on customer bills any adjustments made to a customer's account to show any other monthly charges and credits."

According to the Cowen Tax Group the best thing customers can do is to "read the fine print, check credit card and bank statements and go over the charges on every bill that comes in."

Iacovella plans on checking it on a regular basis.

"If you don't stay on top, and you don't watch the bill, people don't pay attention," said Iacovella.

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