An Inconvenient Fee

I was reminiscing with my colleagues yesterday about the dawn of the ATM machine. We were remembering how, when banks first started to install them, they all used to charge you a small fee for the convenience of using it – whether you belonged to the bank or not. Thankfully, banks abandoned this practice, although many will still charge you for using an “out-of-network” ATM.

When I was in Singapore doing some consulting for Singapore Airlines, they weren’t really down with the whole e-ticket thing. Labor is cheap in Southeast Asia, so travel agents are still the main outlet for sales of airline tickets. One of our initiatives with Singapore Airlines was to expand their e-ticketing capabilities, and we had to repeatedly push back on their desire to demand a convenience fee.

We poked fun at notoriously-stingy Singapore Airlines about this behind their backs. It all seems so archaic, but I still occasionally run into service fees here and there – like when I buy baseball game tickets online, as I did today.

So let’s get this straight… I’m making things more convenient for you, so you want to charge me a fee.

Actually, I suppose it’s more convenient for both of us, which is apparently a problem. So your fee is designed to counter-balance this dangerous increase in net convenience?

Just like the “patriot” act, this “convenience” thing isn’t fooling anyone. Let’s come up with a better name for your fee.

How about simply, an INconvenience fee? Maybe a We’re Sorry fee? Sucka fee?