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Cover image for Gotcha capitalism : how hidden fees rip you off every day, and what you can do about it
Format:
Title:
Gotcha capitalism : how hidden fees rip you off every day, and what you can do about it
ISBN:
9780345496133
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, ©2007.
Physical Description:
xiv, 345 pages ; 21 cm
Contents:
1 The World of Gotcha Capitalism -- 2 Sneaky Fees in Everything -- 3 Toolkit.
Summary:
Fees for ATM transactions. Cell phone contracts you can't get out of with a crowbar. Big bucks for insurance you don't need on a rental car or for supposedly "free" wireless internet. Every day we use banks, cell phones, and credit cards. Every day we book hotels and airline tickets. And every day we get ripped off. You didn't fill up that rental car with gas? Gotcha! Gas costs $7 a gallon here. You're one day late on that electric bill? Gotcha! All your credit cards now have a 29.99% interest rate. MSNBC columnist Bob Sullivan exposes the ways we're all cheated by big business, and teaches us how to get our money back--proven strategies that can help you save more than $1,000 a year.--From publisher description.
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364.163 SULLIVAN 2007
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Summary

Summary

What is Gotcha Capitalism?

Coughing up $4 fees for ATM transactions. Iron-clad cell phone contracts you can't get out of with a crowbar. Paying big bucks for insurance you don't need on a rental car or forking over $20 a day for supposedly "free" wireless internet. Every day we use banks, cell phones, and credit cards. Every day we book hotels and airline tickets. And every day we get ripped off.
How? Here are just a few examples of how big business can get you:

* You didn't fill up the rental car with gas?
Gotcha! Gas costs $7 a gallon here.
* Your bank balance fell to $999.99 for one day?
Gotcha! That'll be $12.
* You miss one payment on that 18-month same-as-cash loan?
Gotcha! That'll be $512 extra.
* You're one day late on that electric bill?
Gotcha! All your credit cards now have a 29.99% interest rate.

But not for much longer. In Gotcha Capitalism , MSNBC.com's "Red Tape Chronicles" columnist Bob Sullivan exposes the ways we're all cheated by big business, and teaches us how to get our money back-proven strategies that can help you save more than $1,000 a year.


Author Notes

Bob Sullivan is an award-winning journalist and author. With over two decades of experience, he is best known for covering computer crime and consumer affairs for MSNBC.com and running the "Red Tape Chronicles" blog. He has won the Peabody Award, the Public Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Betty Furness Consumer Media Service Award from the Consumer Federation of America. He earned degrees in History and Mathematics from Fairfield University and a Master's degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri. He now lives in Maltby, Washington.


Reviews 1

Booklist Review

What is the difference between your cell-phone company's quoted monthly rate and the actual bill that you get every month? Once you add in all the sneaky fees, surcharges, and taxes, the actual bill can be up to double the advertised price. Sullivan chronicles how this trend has crept into every area of commerce, including credit-card companies, banks, cable TV, Internet access, mortgages, the travel industry and, the worst abusers of all, the retirement and financial-planning industry. Instead of offering their services for a single stated price and keeping to it, companies pad their profits by cheating, hiding the actual cost of their services with hidden fees, to the tune of $45 billion a year! Sullivan picks apart each industry, with fun topics such as mouse print, lying ATMs, and diminishing gift cards. His excellent tips on how to crack the fee code, deal with customer-service reps, and become a sophisticate will help you to reclaim your money, your rights, and your dignity.--Siegfried, David Copyright 2008 Booklist


Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
1 The World of Gotcha Capitalism
1 Shrouding, Reverse Competition, and Other Corporate Tricks That Attack the American Way of Lifep. 3
2 Sneaky Fees in Everything
1 Credit Cardsp. 39
2 Banksp. 57
3 Retirement/401(k)sp. 73
4 Mortgages and Rentalsp. 84
5 Cell Phonesp. 100
6 Home Phonesp. 115
7 Pay TVp. 128
8 Internet Accessp. 144
9 Travelp. 156
10 Groceriesp. 169
11 Gift Cardsp. 178
12 Rebatesp. 184
13 Student Loansp. 191
14 Sneaky Fees Everywherep. 205
I Using a Loan to Buy a Carp. 205
II Auto Insurancep. 209
III Homeowners Insurancep. 210
IV Health Clubsp. 211
V Website Shipping Chargesp. 215
3 Toolkit
1 Customer-Service Callsp. 221
Sample Phone Scriptsp. 231
Get a Refundp. 231
Get a Manager on the Phonep. 232
Negotiate a Lower Interest Ratep. 233
End a Sales Pitch During a Customer-Service Callp. 234
2 Sample Letters That Workp. 236
Sample Complaint Lettersp. 243
Cable Feesp. 243
Cable Fees, Part IIp. 244
Bank Feesp. 246
Bank Fees, Part IIp. 248
Cell-Phone Feesp. 250
Cell-Phone Fees, Part IIp. 251
Hotel Feesp. 252
Hotel Fees, Part IIp. 253
A Wayward Rebatep. 254
A Wayward Rebate, Part IIp. 255
3 The Legal Optionsp. 256
4 Sneaky-Fee Surveyp. 278
Conclusionp. 293
Appendix
Gotcha Glossaryp. 303
Looking for Help? Consumer Advocacy Groupsp. 307
Sample Troubleshooting Worksheetp. 311
Notesp. 317
Acknowledgmentsp. 341