Every year companies decide they need to make more money. And every year, I make a promise that it won't come at any additional expense to me. Sometimes, to make good on this promise, I must “stick it to The Man.” The Man, of course, is no one of stature, just a generic term for the strong-arming corporate thievery of the leveraged business.
But when you put a Sumo wrestler on a seesaw, you make it hard for the other side to meet you in the middle. And when you can't meet in the middle, just throw them the short end of the stick. Remember, it's the heavyweights who drown first, so short sticks won't save them.
My utility company, for instance, charges an “internet convenience fee” of $2.50 for paying my utility bill online by credit card. Obviously, paying online is the most convenient method for me, and others I would assume. You know what else is convenient? The fact that this is the only company servicing my building's water/sewer charges. Perhaps I should start charging a “monopoly convenience fee” for the lack of alternatives?
Nonetheless, up until a few months ago, I still had the option of writing a check and avoiding this internet convenience fee. Since I value 3 minutes of my time at less than $2.50, I handwrite and mail a check (at a cost of $0.45, or whatever current inflationary value USPS has allowed their bitter government employees to demand). NOW, however, I've noticed that in addition to a “water charge” and a “sewer charge,” there is a $3.30 “billing charge.” This, regardless of how you choose to remit payment.
What does this mean? Basically, that you are being charged to figure out how much you should be charged. It would be like going to your local bar and having your bartender say, “Damn, you've had a lot of beers, son! I can't even remember how many you've had! Excuse me while I retire to the back room to figure out how drunk you are. Oh, and you'll be billed at my normal accountant's consulting rate.”
But my bartender doesn't say that. Because he knows there ain't a chance in hell I'll be back to see him next time if he does.
So, as it turns out, my favorite time to pay bills is directly after visiting my local bartender. Nothing says “drunk logic” like a magic marker, some stickers, and a cooler of beer. Suck it, VERTEX, soon to be NWP Services Corporation:
Sometimes it's who yells the loudest that wins.