Richard Drew, AP
"Zombie subscriptions," a hidden credit card charge method, could be haunting your bill, according to an NBC News article.
This is one of six “gray charges,” which are costs merchants add that the consumer is unaware of and generally would cancel them if they knew.
These charges are usually $12 to $18, but added up to an annual cost of about $358.
"I am surprised by the amount of legitimate companies — well-known companies — that have repeatedly confused and deceived customers into paying," said Yaron Samid, CEO of BillGuard, to NBC News.
Unwanted and misunderstood subscriptions
This accounted for almost half of the gray charges. For example, 3 million people still paid AOL for dial-up Internet Access service last summer because of automated-monthly billing. BillGuard didn't know how many costumers used dial-up, but once customers found out about the charges, usually they turned off AOL.
After a service is canceled, it "comes back to life" when the consumer doesn't want it. What also comes back to life? The charges.
Consumers forget to cancel a product before an annual renewal and after the charge is placed on their card, it is too late to cancel.
A service may start out free, but sometimes a free trial automatically becomes a paid service without a consumer realizing it.
Monthly purchases have a gradual increase each month. One month it's one more dollar, the next another, and so on.
Negative option marketing
This includes various methods for merchants to enroll consumers in agreements. For example, receiving a second unwanted service that is packaged in with a legitimate purchase.