Sometimes, however, there are information asymmetries. The seller knows the foibles of the buyer, but the buyer doesn't know the foibles of the seller until that late charge or peak period surcharge or inactivity charge kicks in. Such things provide the material for Gotcha Capitalism, which Book Review No. 21 recommends if for no other reason than the hints for dealing with customer disservice phone lines or writing letters of complaint or identifying government agencies that exist to enforce contracts and property rights, which do exist for buyers as well as for sellers.
To an extent, the book is an endorsement for living simply: make do without a mobile phone, don't subscribe to pay-per-view, pay off your credit cards in full each month, make relatively little use of rebates and gift cards, and buy only a house that you can finance on a thirty-year fixed-rate mortgage and you avoid many of the most common hidden fee traps.
(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops).