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“Nothing in life is free” couldn’t be truer these days. Consumers are paying extra for everything from an aisle seat on an airplane to a plastic bag at the grocery store. Why freebies are fading is complicated, but experts suggest the internet is partly to blame. Consumers are way more price-conscious because of it, so companies are keeping prices down by offering stripped-down products and services. Extras now come at a cost.
“In any area people can separate some aspect of the product or service from another,” says Jonah Berger, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “Not everyone uses the pool at the hotel. The same on a flight. Some people want a certain seat; others don’t.”
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The freebies that are disappearing can be found pretty much everywhere. They include these five.
1. Grocery bags
To protect the environment, some states are banning or reducing the use of plastic bags in grocery stores. Instead of getting free plastic bags, one will cost you 5 to 10 cents. Don’t want to pay for plastic bags at the grocery store? Bring your own reusable ones.
2. Seat assignment on a flight
In the past, the price of an airline ticket was no different if you were in an aisle seat or at the window. Now how much you pay for a ticket can depend on where you want to sit. If you prefer an aisle seat or one with more legroom, you’ll pay more. According to an analysis by NerdWallet, Delta charges $15, on average, each way for seat selection; American charges $19. Discount airline operator Frontier charges the most, at an average of $23 per one-way flight.
To avoid this fee when booking online, consider skipping the seat selection if you can’t pick a seat for free. Airlines don’t promote it, but you don’t have to choose your seat on a flight in advance, according to NerdWallet. One will be assigned by the airline at no charge at check-in, though it may be a middle seat. If you do care about the seat, go with an airline that charges a low fee — or no fee — for seat selection.