Even the word “fees” stinks. Think about it: it sort of reminds you of the word “fleas” (another terrible thing), and when you say the word “fees,” your face twists up into a terrible grimace to get the “ees” sound out. Don’t believe me? Go say the word “fees” into a mirror, and you’ll see what I mean. You look stupid when you say it.
While we’re avoiding saying the word “fees” so that we don’t look silly, let’s avoid paying them as well, shall we? Because by definition, fees are something you shouldn’t have to pay — they’re a price for nothing. They’re candy coated as being for “conveniences," — like paying late, paying for intangible services, and (my favorite) paying because a payment didn’t go through… those things are convenient? Bah!
Obviously the best way to avoid fees is to… avoid them. Stay on top of things, make all of your payments on time, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, we know that. But fees happen anyways — they sneak their way onto cell phone bills, credit card bills, even student loans and mortgages. What a load of horse hooey! But it happens to the best of us, and when it does, it’s time for stronger tactics.
Negotiate Your Fees Away
Yes, fees can just *poof* disappear. Most of the time, all you have to do is ask. It sounds too simple to be true, but… when’s the last time you tried asking? For me, it was yesterday. And it worked.
In September, I set up my federal student loan payment for automatic payments. It went through just fine for the month of October, so I thought nothing of it. On Monday, I got an email saying that my payment went through, so I thought all was well. But by Wednesday, the payment still hadn’t been taken from my bank account. So I logged in to see what was up. Well, a payment bouncing back and a $20 fee, that’s what was up!
I used the live chat on the website to get some answers because of course, they want to discourage you from calling. It was actually a fairly helpful chat and not a robot, so I found out that my routing number had been mistyped (I left off a "1", but in my defense the "1"s on checks kinda look like the weird symbols they use right next to the routing numbers!). My payment hadn’t gone through and I’d been charged an "NSF" fee. I asked the woman in the chat if I could get it waived, but she told me I had to contact my school (boo!) and gave me the number.
So I called Financial Services at my college, and all I had to do was explain what had happened with the routing number. I didn’t even really have to ask about getting the fee waived — the woman at Financial Services could tell that’s what I was calling about. She offered to waive the fee, since it was a one-time occurrence and it’s already corrected and set to not ever happen again.
And that’s $20 that can go toward my loan principal instead of fees. Hurray!
I did have to pay a $1.50 fee for a “privilege” of paying online with an instant e-check. My other options were: pay $4.14 for the privilege of paying instantly by credit card, or set my payment up to go through in a week an a half… and hope they didn’t charge me a late fee in the meantime. That’s the thing about fees: they will find a way to get you sometimes.
The next time you’re faced with a fee… try asking not to pay it. This isn’t the first time that simply asking has erased a fee for me, so I know it’s not a fluke. You’d be surprised how many people never even try. But think of it this way: the answer is definitely “no” if you never bother to ask.
(Psst… phone phobia? Not an excuse.)