Avoid hidden fees when paying your bills

By Emily Pantelides bio | email
Posted by Rachel Leigh email

(WFLX) - Have you ever noticed a hidden fee on one of your bills or called customer service for one of the companies you deal with and been charged for your call?

These days "hidden fees" are everywhere. Perhaps they're in the form of convenience fees, or, get this, 'a fee to talk to a live person'.

We called a few local companies to find out the skinny on what they charge.

We'll start with Comcast. If you are a customer and want to speak directly with a Comcast representative, it's going to cost you $4. But, the company says, "There are also a variety of other cost free payment options available."

Florida Power and Light charges a $3.95 convenience fee for customers wanting to use a credit or debit card to pay their bills. But the company tells us there are other options including: "Payments from their bank account by phone, online or through an automatic monthly withdrawal with no additional fees."

Many of our local water companies allow customers to pay their bills with the National Exemption Service. To pay your bill online, there's a convenience fee of $3.50. We asked why; however, we haven't heard yet from this company.

These charges may sound small, but add them up and that could mean a lot of extra money. So why are all these companies charging these extra fees? "I guess each organization has their own motto. Our motto has always been very focused on customer service," said Rim Bishop, the executive director of Seacoast Utility Authority. "And, we think, a good part of customer service is making it easy for costumers to pay their bill."

Seacoast Utility Authority is another local water company who doesn't use the National Exemption Service, and says they have never have and never will charge customers for talking to a rep on the phone or paying their bill online. "We like for people to have as much convenience as possible."

We checked with Macy's. They, like Seacoast, also charge no fees.

One way to get around some of these fees is to use your banks online bill pay feature. Most banks do not charge for that service.