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Almost a quarter of US pay TV user costs are hidden fees

Unexpected or hidden pay TV fees are affecting the vast majority of pay TV subscribers, a new study has revealed. 

According to a new report from Consumer Reports that looks into the use of hidden fees by cable companies in the US, 85% of respondents said that they have encountered an unexpected or hidden fee over the past two years with 96% of those saying that hidden fees are a “real nuisance”. 

It goes on to say that company-imposed fees, such as those from broadcast TV, regional sports fees and set-top box rental fees, add what amounts to a 24% surcharge in addition to the advertised price. 

In real world terms, this amounts to an average of US$450 per year per customer on fees and expenses that were not advertised to them in advance. In addition, 59% of Americans who experienced hidden fees in the past two years said the extra expense caused them to exceed their budgets. 

The report estimates that pay TV operators could be making up to US$28 billion a year from hidden fees. 

This is something which has also rapidly increased over the past several years. 

The report cites a particular example from Comcast, which in 2015 charged an extra US$2.50 per month in regional sports and broadcast TV fees. In 2019, that charge is now US$18.25 per month, representing an increase of almost 600% in four years. 

It concludes by suggesting that three steps – new rules to include company-imposed fees in advertised prices; the enforcement of existing laws which are allegedly being circumvented by many operators; and consumer action such as cord-cutting – are taken in order to cut down on the creeping extra costs in a market that is already notorious expensive for consumers. 

A study from Kagan found that the average US pay TV bill in 2017 totalled US$100.98 per month – a figure that has likely increased in the past two years.