T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) CEO John Legere has been a crusader against hidden fees, sneaky charges, and non-optional line items that appear on wireless bills.
His company even decided to do away with fees and taxes altogether by offering all-in prices with its latest T-Mobile One plan. The company of course still pays taxes, but if it advertises four lines for $160, that’s actually the price consumers pay for the service. That’s much different from how the other wireless companies operate, two of which — AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) — also sell cable and internet service.
Legere, who never misses a chance to mock his two big rivals, went right after them in a press release when T-Mobile’s offer was introduced. He was only speaking about wireless; he made no mention of cable or internet, though he might as well have:
Wireless consumers pay billions extra every year in added surcharges, taxes, monthly fees and carrier price hikes. It’s reached epidemic proportions! And, the carriers just keep inventing new ways to make their customers pay.
Below are five of the most egregious ways many cable, internet, and wireless companies may be charging their customers more than their advertised prices. These aren’t the only tricks up these companies’ sleeves, but they are the most common — and probably the most expensive.
Cable modem rental fee
In many cases cable companies, including Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) , charge a monthly rental fee — generally between $6 and $10 a month — to rent a cable modem. What many cable providers don’t explicitly tell you is that this is not a mandatory charge. Instead of renting a modem and paying its full cost many times over its lifespan, you can buy your own.
The companies that offer modem rentals generally have Web pages that list alternatives, and some smaller players will actually sell you one up front at a fair price if you elect to buy it. For consumers, this is a no-brainer. Cable modems generally cost under $100,…