Don’t Put Up with Bogus Fees

Corey —  April 28, 2010

       A couple months ago, my wife and I canceled our phone, Internet, and satellite service (via Dish Network) through the local phone company to switch to Comcast. We did it to get faster internet and to cut out the TV service (which we replace by watching online videos). This saved us some money over the monthly costs and provided better Internet service (a big plus for me).

       There were no cancellation fees, and I asked to make sure. I had to talk to a different person to cancel the Dish Network subscription and she explained the return process. (They want the receiver, remote, card, and satellite dish “eye” back to reduce theft of their service. I can understand that.) She said they’d send me a box with prepaid postage and a list of instructions. If I didn’t send the stuff back, they’d hit me with major charges (anywhere from $200 to $500). If I did send it, no charges. Or so I thought…

The Bogus Fee

       I opened a bill in the mail a couple weeks ago from Dish Network. They wanted to charge me a $15 “return fee” plus $0.90 in taxes. Apparently, this is to cover the cost of the prepaid postage for the box to return their hardware. They’re supposed to tell you about this fee when you’re canceling your service, but they never told me. So I called them up to complain.

The Phone Call

       Honestly, I didn’t expect much cooperation since I’m no longer a customer. Dealing with bogus fees is a lot easier when you can threaten to cancel your service or stop being a customer. Not an option for me, so my hopes were not high. Surprisingly, the representative cleared out the charges after I explained the situation and he conferred with his manager. Score 1 for Dish Network customer service.

Don’t Put Up with Bogus Fees

       Here’s my point. Don’t put up with bogus fees. If you get hit with random fees that you’re not expecting (from any service or business), call and complain. Be nice but firm. Patiently and calmly explain the situation, tell them why you don’t believe you should pay the bogus fee, and listen to their response. I didn’t have to haggle much with Dish Network, but it’s not always that easy. Be prepared to keep (calmly) discussing the problem until you get the resolution you want.

It’s Worth Your Time!

       Why do this? Because it will save you money, and it might not take much time. For example, my phone call with Dish Network took a total of 8 minutes. I saved $15.90 by refusing to pay that bill and making the phone call. My time dealing with this annoyance was worth nearly $120/hour. Does your job pay that much?

       It might not seem like much, but a small savings over a small amount of time translates to a high hourly rate. So assuming you have the time, it’s worth your effort.

       What about you? Have you had an experience like this? How did you handle the bogus fees, and what was your outcome? Share your experiences in the comments!



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

4 responses to Don’t Put Up with Bogus Fees

  1. I’m currently banking with Bank of America. My husband returned an item to Macy’s totaling $178. He was told that it would take 48 hrs to post to his account. Unfortunately, he did not call to verify and the 3rd day he spent $25.71 in four transactions and we were hit with $140 in return fees! I called the bank and tried to explain and even threatened to leave. Only to be told that it’s our fault and they only returned $35 to us. Needless to say….I’m shopping for a good bank with interest checking (BOA does not provide this either).

  2. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get a good result, Migdalia. Did you try talking to another person? Sometimes you can find someone more willing to work with you if you call back later. I agree BOA should have been more flexible with you all if they want to provide good customer service, but there is also a need for personal responsibility as well. You want to avoid getting that close to $0 in your checking account, but you also need a bank that’s willing to listen to its customers and keep them first. I hope you find a good alternative. A credit union could be a good place to start.

  3. I wish I can be calm and firm. I just dont have the guts/confidence and often to let myself lose, cause I dont want to deal with the “hassle”. :(
    Please advice/teach how to…..

  4. Thanks for your comment, Margaretha. I’ll work on a post with tips on how to negotiate and request credits/discounts. It should be up in mid-late May. (I write my posts 2-3 weeks in advance.) Thanks for the idea!