Everyday Ripoffs

They’re everywhere, it seems. Some, you can avoid; others, you just can’t. We’re talking about the litany of costly charges that follow you wherever you go, perfectly legal tricks that really add up, leaving you feeling as though you’ve been fleeced, cheated and conned.

Those hateful bank fees are just the tip of the iceberg—and at least our parliamentarians are looking into the issue. The list of everyday ripoffs seems to be growing. Let the companies you do business with know how you feel.

Compulsory Tips

Some hotels within chains including the Sheraton, Delta and Marriott automatically add a 15 percent gratuity to their room-service bills. As if paying $13 for your morning bowl of cereal isn’t enough.


Expect to pay up to 30 percent more than the advertised price for cellphone plans after you include all the taxes, surcharges and fees added on. And you’ll be hit with a hefty early-termination fee if you cancel your plan early.  

Paying to Pay

The Toronto Parking Authority and the City of Ottawa each charge $1.50 administrative fees to pay parking tickets online or over the phone, while residents of Winnipeg, Vancouver and Halifax face no extra charges for the same privilege. Isn’t the purpose of automated systems to cut expenses?

Disposal Fees

While you may think you’ll get brownie points for delivering your junk to the dump, you won’t. In Victoria you’ll be charged $6 per vehicle for dropping off recycling at the city dump and in Kingston, the minimum charge is $12.50.

Paying to Order

Travellers have accepted the fees for booking tickets online and the outrageous prices for drinks and food. What about those fees for checking your bags or reserving seats? Air Canada charges up to $22 for reserving a seat. Most airlines are now charging $15 for the first checked bag and up to $50 for the second one.

Costly Statements

Primus Canada charges you 50 cents for each telecommunications statement or invoice it mails to you. That’s $6 a year—the cost of a couple of lattes or a four-litre bag of milk. Double that for BMO, which charges $1 a month to mail account statements and $2 to update passbooks.

Isn’t Property Tax Enough?

Ah, La Belle Province. It can make even a money-grab sound good—almost. The “Welcome Tax” (named after Mr. Bienvenue, the minister who introduced it) is actually a property-transfer tax. But Quebec is not alone. All provincial governments—except that of Nova Scotia— charge purchasers a land-transfer tax based on the sale price of the property. In Nova Scotia, municipalities collect this tax. And in addition to the provincial tax, the City of Toronto levies a municipal one. In British Columbia, the tax rate charged is one percent on the first $200,000 of the sale price, plus two percent on anything over that. So, if you were to buy a $300,000 home, you’d get dinged with $4,000 in extra taxes. So much for redecorating.

Cable and Phone “Privileges”

Cable-TV providers Rogers and Vidéotron charge a $2.99 monthly “network fee” for using their digital-television services, while Cogeco Cable and Shaw Communications do not. Where’s the logic in that? And this one really irks: Check out your monthly Bell Canada bill. Chances are, there’s a $2.80 charge called “touch-tone service.” To avoid it, you’d need a rotary-dial phone, if you can find one in an antique shop. Otherwise, that’s an extra $33.60 a year!

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