15 most hated fees

Stand up to the pesky charges -- from checked-bag costs to retirement plan expenses -- that bug you the most.

14 of 15
14. Coughing up to chat with a human being
What it costs: $

What you're mad about: Time was, the biggest obstacle in reaching a live customer service rep was getting through an automated phone system. Now many businesses -- from airlines to credit card companies to computer manufacturers -- have added another hurdle, in the form of a fee. For example, you'll pay $5 to order a pay-per-view movie from DirecTV by phone; HSBC requires you to pay $15 to make a credit card payment with a live agent. Especially when you're already shelling out money for something, "to pay to talk to a human is a raw deal," says Doug Heller of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit advocacy group.

How to fight back: First try to do your business online, which is what firms want you to do anyway. If that doesn't work, make the call. "The first tier or two of customer service isn't going to be empowered to relieve you of the fees," Heller says. So ask for a manager. Make a reasoned argument for why you need assistance. Note that you are a good customer who either is spending a lot of money (on a plane ticket, for example) or pays the company each and every month (for cable TV, say).

NEXT: Shelling out big bucks on retirement plans
Last updated June 11 2010: 3:40 PM ET
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