Consumers Rack Up $14.3 Billion in 'Gray' Charges

July 25, 2013
USA Today  
credit card news

A new study commissioned by BillGuard reveals that U.S. consumers are individually paying hundreds of dollars in extra charges every year for services they never wanted or intended to sign up for. That added up to $14.3 billion in 2012, based on data collected from nearly 5,000 BillGuard users. About one in three U.S. cardholders is hit with these "gray charges" at an average of $215 per person per year, the research finds. The biggest culprits, accounting for almost half of all gray charge, are services that offer a free trial but then automatically convert the consumer into a paying customer. "These gray charges are not illegal," notes analyst Ron Shevlin of Aite Group, which conducted the survey on behalf of BillGuard. "They're just kind of unethical and a little bit questionable." As part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's campaign to encourage "consumer-friendly innovation" in the financial services sector, BillGuard says it is working to supply the watchdog with data about the prevalence of deceptive marketing.
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