Bills - they are part of life we can't seem to escape.
We have to heat and cool our homes. Have electricity to run the washer and dryer and heat our water for showers. Most likely our lives reasonably require some form of communication, be it a cellphone or land-line, or maybe both. These are a few normal monthly bills we all face, and all have to pay.
It may be shocking, but a staggering number of people are being overcharged each month and never even realizing it! A dollar here and there can really add up. We've probably all heard by now of the exuberant amount of money the Verizon company is having to pay customers to make up for the miscellaneous charges they've been applying to people's monthly statements. Sadly this practice is not uncommon.
Corporations are notorious for slapping on random fees here and there, hoping that the paying customer will never even notice. Sadly, most don't. Most people quickly glance over their statement, if at all, and write out the check or hit "confirm" for an online payment. The company wins and you've just shelled out hard earned cash for something you never purchased, authorized or even agreed to.
Most people pass off a fee of a few dollars or more as just something they can't remember spending, thinking it must have been that day they were so busy running around; or maybe it was their spouse (using the same bank account or credit card), they must have made the purchase. As for cellphone, cable or satellite TV bills, people get used to seeing movie or texting fees and ringtone download costs on their statements and never even think twice about paying for maybe the equivalent of quite a few extra downloads or "internet browsing time". Time that they may not have even really used themselves.
So what do you do when you notice all these extra charges? Dispute them before you pay! Call the 1-800 numbers for the company and talk to a real human being. Explain the charges you're looking at on your statement and how these were never authorized by you. You want them removed immediately and you expect to be credited back the money (if it's been automatically withdrawn from your account already). If they're giving you a run around, ask for a manager and continue asking until you finally get one on the phone.
If this still isn't working and you're looking at charges that you truly did not acquire yourself, there's always the Better Business Bureau. Don't underestimate what a truthful complaint to them about the company giving you the run around can do! Obviously don't go overboard reporting every little frustration you have with bill paying, but do take advantage of the option to complain to someone who cares, by submitting your legitimate complaint to the BBB in a timely manner. They look into the issue at hand and usually try to get things resolved for you - having the company contact you with a solution or way to resolve the complaint in a realistic manner.
So how do we avoid getting scammed by the companies we all use for basic services? Watch your cellphone bills - data charges, kilobyte usage or phone calls to numbers you've never dialed.
Cable or satellite TV bills - extra channels you don't get to view or movies you never paid to watch. Bank statements - this one you may not think of as over-charging you as long as all your purchases make sense for the month, but watch for service fees or additional charges for what should have been "free checking" or something similar. Shopping for electronics or new appliances - double check your receipt before signing to make sure no additional warranties have been charged for or any random "optimization" feature you didn't discuss beforehand. Car rental companies too are occasionally "caught" adding on services that you didn't request.
Before you pay or commit with signature, don't be afraid to ask what a charge is for until you completely understand what you're paying for and why!
So even though we can't escape monthly bills, we can at least stop paying for the parts we haven't used or services we never requested. Fine tooth examine your statements each month before you pay. The extra few minutes this may take could really end up saving you more money than you think!