Gotcha Capitalism

How Hidden Fees Rip You Off Every Day, Bob Sullivan, Ballantine.


A day late and a dollar short: If you've ever found yourself in this position “Gotcha Capitalism” is a must read. Written by MSNBC’s “Red Tape Chronicles” columnist Bob Sullivan, it offers dozens of tips on how to avoid—and, if necessary, protest—the maddening hidden charges and late fees that have become the norm in the American economy.

The author exposes countless pricing schemes that exist across dozens of industries, all craftily designed to ensure that busy, distracted consumers pay extra for virtually everything they buy. Sneaky fees are now so prevalent that it takes Sullivan almost 200 pages to cover the most common dirty tricks employed by banks, phone companies, retailers, insurance companies and the like. 

Knowing that few consumers have the time or patience to do battle on their own, Sullivan includes sample complaint letters & e-mails, plus handy scripts for conversing with customer-service representatives (“hey, they have scripts, why shouldn't you?”). There’s even a set of blank forms for recording your exchanges and keeping track of your progress. 

Best of all, “Gotcha Capitalism” is available for a flat fee of $14.95, with no aftercharge, surcharge or usage fee.