How service providers increase charges and fees under our noses!
June 2012 was the last time I worked in an office and have gradually ended up traveling the World full time. I recently looked into my bank transactions in more detail and realised that most companies, especially where I had a direct debit, had increased their charges by up to 200% in just a few years! These companies include my:
- House Insurance,
- Mobile Phone provider,
- Land Line provider
- Health Insurance
- Credit Cards
The most extravagant of these cases was my House Insurance. The fees had gradually doubled, so I went to see what is included in my policy. To my surprise, I realised that comparing to the two packages they are currently selling, I had the worse one, but I was paying double the fees of the better package! Their sales person suggested that I cancel my existing policy and buy a new one. I did this and now I have a better policy with the same company, while paying half the money!
Another surprise was in my Health Insurance fees, which had increased by 200% since 2010. When I called the company, they blamed the government! No other explanation given. Unfortunately, so far I have had no time or appetite to check for alternative providers.
Funnier was the case of my Mobile Phone provider. I realised that the itemised bill mentioned a fee for “not paying via direct debit”. When I confronted the provider about it, their employee said “ah, I can reduce this”, and she just reduced the fees by 80%, without giving any explanation on why they had been overcharging me all this time!
All in all, I discovered similar issues with my Credit Cards (I was being charged “protection fees” for protection I never asked for and which they knew I did not need, so I got a refund when I brought it up), my Land Line (fees up by 50%), Bank (they started charging fees in one of my Bank accounts a few years ago) and a few other service providers.
Traveling full time in different time zones makes it difficult to closely monitor all financial transactions in bank statements or to call companies, and a number of them seem to take advantage of this carelessness of which I was admittedly guilty. Having to spend a few days in London this September (in order to get a visa for my next trip) was a good opportunity to take time and sort out things, and I definitely recommend other full-time travellers or other ultra-busy professionals, to occasionally do the same.