The funny disease.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Fee, Fee Everywhere a Fee

Fee, fee everywhere a fee,
Fining us to misery, crushing my knees.
Pay this! Don’t pay that! You must pay the fees.
--(To the tune of Signs, as sung by Tesla.)

I know that you, Dear Reader, cannot see my face, which is (in the larger scheme of things) a good thing for you, and cannot tell that I am entirely fed up with fees. Open any bill and the utility, cable and telecom companies have thoughtfully parsed out every little penny. Categorizing the funds they are demanding under such enlightening titles as “Federal Universal Service Fund,” and “Regulatory Surcharge.” How are we supposed to know what a “Regulatory Surcharge” is? They might as well be charging us for the care and upkeep of Jabberwockies. Every little tax, every little charge is passed on to you, the customer, in this backhanded manner. So AT&Fee can say they are can offer you phone service for the low, low price of only $25.99 a month and then not be held accountable for informing us that the final bill will be more like $35.76.

Floundering airlines are another prime offender of the backhanded fee. Airlines regularly arm and leg (it's like nickel and diming, only more so) consumers with fees such as “Passenger Facility Charges,” “Federal Segment Fees,” “September 11th Security Fee.” Northwest Air, which is facing bankruptcy at the moment, is now charging $15 for booking aisle or exit row seats. I say it’s discrimination of the vertically enhanced. Before you whip out the tiny violins and accuse me of crying into my $5 in-flight, mini-bottle of chardonnay, I’ll say that I need that extra $15 so I can afford to pay the premium on “tall” jeans. At least if one happens to be vertically challenged, their pants can be shortened.

Jeff Bernhardt of the LA Times, pondered additional fees the airlines could charge in the future, such as $15 fees for requesting a seat at least two rows away from children, $15 for using the overhead compartment and $1 for each trip to the impossibly small water closet. I say, thanks a bunch for giving them a battery of what they will surely see as good ideas, Jeff. Next thing we know airlines teetering on the bridge of fiscal insolvency will be piling those fees on, and we’ll be speculating on how much they will charge us for breathing their germ-laden recycled air.

It’s no wonder that people are unhappy with airline travel. Between the cramped seats, the mind-numbingly long delays and lack of refreshments the already grossly mismanaged companies within the air travel industry will undoubtedly fee themselves to death. Perhaps, instead of hiring overpaid consultants to come up with fees, and then punishing customers, airlines could do some internal soul-searching for things such as lost luggage. According to a report released by SITA, a company that tracks baggage information, airlines spent an estimated $2.5 billion in 2005 on mishandled luggage.

As for foiling other notorious fee-chargers, Sweetface wishes the U. S. would do things the European way. When you walk into a retail store in Germany the price on the tag is the price you pay. The taxes are already included. They don’t rear their ugly 8.75% heads at the cash register. I say Americans will never do this. They like to feel the pinch and then grumble about paying taxes. (I think it harkens back to the dissatisfaction colonists expressed at the Boston Tea Party.) But I believe the world would be a better place if we unite against excess fees and demand that companies roll the cost of doing business into the prices they charge instead of playing despicable, infuriating mind-games with consumers.


Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

THere's the car dealer's fee for processing paper work. It ranges from 100-200 dollars. You are basically paying the dealership employees to do their job. By the way you now have to pay my $10 comment fee and don't forget the $50 for that CD I made you...

3/31/2006 1:32 PM

Blogger Sarah Letnes said...

I'll run a tab for you, you generous old man.

3/31/2006 2:10 PM

Blogger Dirk the Feeble said...

Interesting you post this, because I got my Verizon bill today and 20% of it was fees and the rest was my actual usage bill.

4/03/2006 12:57 PM

Blogger Sarah Letnes said...

See? Those telecom lunatics must be stopped!

4/04/2006 4:23 PM


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