By
MSNBC TV
updated 7/28/2013 3:46:10 PM ET 2013-07-28T19:46:10

Ever signed up for "free of charge" services only to have it turn into a costly monthly subscription? That surprise charge is known as a “grey fee," an unwanted charges that occurs from misleading sales practices.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ever signed up for something advertised as  free of charge only to have that service turn into a costly monthly subscription? That surprise charge on a credit card statement is known as a “grey fee,” an unwanted charges that occurs from misleading sales practices. These fees most often sneak up on consumers when a free trial or membership expires and is automatically renewed.

A new study by consulting firm Aite Group found that in 2012 these types of fees raked in $14.3 billion , with 35% of households paying $215 annually and 10% paying as much as $500. These fees are popping up everywhere, from online purchases that activate monthly charges, to free apps that have other charges outlined in the “terms and conditions” clauses most people breeze through.

Frustrating as they may be, these charges are legal and usually outlined, though most likely buried, in fine print that’s presented to the consumer.

On Saturday, USA Today contributor Regina Lewis joined Weekends with Alex Witt to explain the deceptive practices that lead to these charges and advise consumers on how to avoid paying them.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,