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Annoying rip-offs: Vent your rage

Calculating your financesPeeved at paying ticket booking fees? Annoyed at “admin” charges? We round-up the most annoying rip-offs to be aware of.

We all do our best to save money where we can, but sometimes it can feel like cash is being ripped from our hands and there’s nothing we can do about it.

It’s down to those annoying little add-ons, inflated costs and hidden fees that always seem to pop up when you least expect it.

A Confused.com Facebook poll on this very subject found that admin fees, booking fees and peak train fare rules were the most annoying.

And being charged extra for not paying by direct debit came top of a similar poll by website MSN Money.

Feedback from Confused.com staff threw up a number of annoying rip-offs when it comes to spending money.

Getting less bang for your buck

“I know I have grown since I was a kid so a Tracker bar is bound to look smaller in my hand, but I’m sure they’ve actually shrunk,” complains commercial analyst Alex Higgs.

The fact is that many products have actually reduced in size over time. In February, Cadbury's Dairy Milk bars went down from 140g to 120g - the equivalent of two chunks - while the recommended retail price remained unchanged, says this BBC News Online article.

Manufacturers put this down to the rising costs of getting their products on to the shelves.

Cadbury told the BBC it cut the size of Dairy Milk to ensure it was still offering "a very affordable treat" even though the cost of cocoa beans has more than doubled in five years.

So rather than putting up the retail price, manufacturers preferred to reduce the size instead.

The service charge swindle

Most of us are happy to tip for good service in a restaurant but one bugbear is the compulsory service charge, often sneakily tacked onto the bill without prior knowledge.

This one stings even more if the service has been especially poor.

Mike Hoban, marketing director at Confused.com admits this annoys him, especially, he says, “those who add on a compulsory charge and then expect you to add even more of a tip when they present you with the credit card machine”.

The cost of chatting (or not) abroad

Your mobile phone rings while you’re on holiday. Pick up and you’re charged to receive the call. But surely everyone knows that it costs to receive a call while you’re aboard.

But do you know that even if your phone goes through to voicemail, you’ll still be charged? This gripe came from Matthew Crole-Rees, planning manager at Confused.com.

 The fact is that most mobile phone providers will charge you for connecting an incoming call when you’re out of the country. So even if the call goes through to your voicemail, an incoming call has still been connected and you’ll be charged.

Protect yourself by disconnecting your voicemail service while you’re on holiday, or contact your network provider to see if they offer any overseas packages that make using your phone abroad more affordable.

Hidden charges and ‘admin’ fees

These types of charges are becoming more and more common; you get to the end of a transaction only to find the cost has increased because of ‘administration’ or ‘handling’ fees. We picked out a few of the most irritating.

·         Confused.com’s head of IT operations, Andrew Brockway, was recently stung by online ticket merchant, Ticketmaster. He purchased two tickets at an initial cost of £55, so a total of £110 right? No, Ticketmaster added a £14.50 ‘service charge’ to the price. So that’s £124.50 in total then, right? Wrong again. They omitted to mention that this did not include postage or the ‘order processing fee’. Andrew’s grand total was £127 - a 15.5 per cent increase on face value.

·         Software developer Andrew Roche, has a bone to pick with budget airline Ryanair. He was faced with a £6 per passenger ‘administration fee’ at the end of his booking procedure. He asks: “You check in-online so you don’t see a member of Ryanair staff until you get on the plane, so exactly what is the admin fee covering. You even have to use your own printer and ink to print the boarding pass that must be presented.”

 ·         Digital designer, Polly Aplin, is being stung with a £66 admin fee because she’s getting married outside of her local authority’s area. "Because me and my partner have chosen to get married in a different county we have to pay Cardiff council an admin fee for the privilege, £33 pounds for each of us,” she exclaims. “I’d never heard of this extra cost for marriage registration.”

Did we miss any out? What little rip-offs really grind your gears? Let off some steam in the comments section below.