Fee-ed up

The family and I went to a concert last night – more about that tomorrow.

CeBIT Home 1998 student day ticket with barcode

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the process of setting up the evening out with the family, I bought tickets online.  I actually bought one too many so I sold it online as well.  If you’ve done either – along with a host of other things – in the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed that there are fees associated with those activities.  Obviously there is the price of the ticket but there are handling fees, convenience fees, delivery fees, processing fees and who knows what else.  I’m fee-ed up.  Let me explain.

I certainly don’t begrudge anyone from making a buck for providing a service.  My issue is that many businesses seem to have followed the lead of the airline industry in nickel and dime-ing their customers to death.  Let’s take last night.  The face value of my ticket was $118.  On top of that, I paid a service fee of $12.80 (almost another 11%) and a $5 facility charge (another 4%) per ticket.  There was also a $3.25 order processing fee.  The last one is, in my opinion, where the nickel and dime mentality lives.  In light of the $102 they made processing my order for the tickets, do they really need another $3.25?  At least I didn’t get charged to use my own printer to print the tickets out…this time.

Then I sold a ticket.  Since it was an in-demand show, I was able to do so for $225.  Of course, that was before I paid 15% to the site that helped me sell it – $34.  At least that fee was straightforward.  Had I been selling baseball tickets, however, there’s also a $1.50 per ticket MLB transfer fee and a $2 per ticket delivery fee. So while MLB got paid by selling a seat, they want to get paid again (as if the beer and hotdogs aren’t enough) because what might be an unused ticket moves to someone who will be there.

It’s not just tickets.  Looked at your phone bill?  What’s an “administration fee” except billions in the phone company’s pocket and a buck out of yours? Bought a car and paid a “document fee” of a couple of hundred dollars? Bank fees are among the worst and try telling the cable company you don’t want a remote control for which they charge you every month.  Then there are the airlines…

I’ll say it again.  It’s fine to  collect a fee for delivering a product or service.  Be upfront about it (you usually discover most of these fees after you’ve “bought”).  Make them clear and reasonable and in line with what the customer would expect to pay for your service.  The way to lose big bucks in my mind is to collect nickels and dimes in a sneaky way on top of those bucks.  What do you think?

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Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud

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