Fee Madness!

The current business climate of charging a fee for every single transaction I have made has started to get a little irritating. Every time I have used a foreign ATM, I have paid a fee. If I don’t carry a minimum monthly balance in my checking or savings account, the bank has charged me a fee. When I have used my credit card at different stores, I was charged a fee for the convenience of being able to purchase the item with that piece of plastic.

I wish I could have only blamed the banking institutions of the world for the implementation of the current fee epidemic, but I can’t. Ticket Master has charged an exorbitant fee for every single ticket I have purchased from them. They even charged me a fee for postage and handling when I opted to pick my tickets up at the “will call” window but the most irritating fee from Ticket Master was when I choose to have my tickets emailed to me. I was still charged for the postage and then I was charged another fee for the convenience of having the tickets emailed to me and saving them the cost of the printing as well as the cost for the actual postage and handling in the first place.

The electric company has now joined in the fracas as well. When I looked at the itemized list on my electric bill, I realized that they have been charging me a monthly fee. My town government charged a flat fee for garbage pick-up, which struck me as more of a tax than a fee, but they call it a fee nonetheless. When I placed an air conditioner in with my weekly garbage, the town charged me an extra fee which I believe they referred to as an “environmental recovery fee” in order to take the old air conditioning unit away. The phone company charged me for a “universal line fee” and then, literally, two lines down the bill, there was a “federal line fee.” I guess “universal” doesn’t cover as much territory universally as it once had in the past.

When I went back to examine the banking fees that were being charged by my financial institution, I realized that I had paid a fee or a “convenience charge” to bank via the computer. I would have to pay another fee if I wanted to have my mortgage automatically deducted from my bank account each month, and yet, a larger fee if I chose to have them draw my mortgage twice a month in two smaller installments. And the list of items could go on and on until we all realized that we are being nickel and dimed to death by every business in the world. I would like to know what happened to customer service or “user friendly business” to use a technical term? Ironically, I paid a fee for technical assistance when I didn’t understand the software they charged me an arm and a leg to have installed on my computer in the first place! It was fee madness I tell you and I was getting angry!

The good old days of quality service for a fair price were gone. Every business seemed to require a payment for hidden fees, charges, surcharges, recovery fees and convenience charges and by the time it was all added it up, these little “extras” really started to add up. These little fees were turning into big business, literally. Don’t even get me started about buying a car! My favorite line at the end of every automobile commercial is the disclaimer that says, “Price doesn’t include taxes, licensing, and fees.” That great price they just quoted in the commercial jumped astronomically when I added those prices into the equation.

Anyway, I went to a foreign ATM yesterday. Let me explain because a foreign ATM was not an ATM in another country, it was the term used to describe a bank that was not part of my banks banking network. Apparently, my bank and this bank had not signed the Treaty of Teaneck where the “really cool banks” had gotten together and agreed not to screw each other with fees. Simply stated; all other banks were foreign to these “really cool banks.” They all had the same type of money, used the same technology, and were interconnected but without having signed the Treaty of Teaneck, there were barriers to consumers who wanted to use a convenient ATM. These barriers meant that I was a member of a rival banking treaty and for that distinction, this banking institution and their allies decided that they would get those consumers of foreign banks at the ATM machine by charging us a fee. Well, this particular ATM was not working properly. I had agreed to pay the $2 fee for using the foreign ATM, but this particular ATM did not work. It was out of order.

So I went into the bank and asked if the teller or the manager could help me. I made it clear to the banking representative that I needed to get money quickly and that their ATM was broken. The manager told me that I could get money out of the bank by running the ATM card I had in my hand through their credit card machine because I had the nifty little Visa logo and I could do all of this for a 2.5% fee. Someone call my doctor; my blood pressure was on the rise and I was about to blow a gasket. If I had used the ATM, they would’ve have charged me $2 for the honor of getting $250 of my own money back from the their institution but since their ATM was broken, I now had to pay $6.25 to get my own $250 from one of their cash drawers via the credit card option. It seemed odd to me that there would be a huge discrepancy but I grinned as I handed the woman my ATM card and said, “Not a problem.”

She took my card and before she ran it through the credit card machine, she asked, “Can I please see some identification?”

I knew she was going to ask to see my identification because I have the letters “C.I.D.” printed on the back of all of my credit cards where my signature would normally be written. It was a form of theft protection and this time, I was happy I had it. “Yes, you can, but there’s a $10 fee.”

“What? Are you crazy? We are not going to pay $10 to see your ID.”

“And I am not going to pay $6.25 to get money out of this bank. Have a nice day!” I said as I took back my ATM card. The nerve of some people! How dare they want to see my ID and not pay for it? I mean, they could have stolen my identity and I would be stuck with years of aggravation and financial loss trying to get it back. Why this fee was a logical down payment on that realization, how dare she cop an attitude with me about it?!

I drove across town at the net expense of $2 in gas which, ironically, would have been the original fee for the use of the foreign ATM, and I used a domestic ATM machine to get my own money for free and I went on my way. And since yesterday, I have started a push to take back my identity in case it was ever stolen and more importantly, to benefit from others who waste my time.

I told the telemarketer that I would be willing to hear his spiel if he paid a $3 listening fee. I have revised my ID fee to $5. If I were needed to roll down my window at any service station or drive through window, it would now cost the business $2. That would be a $1 charge to roll down my window and a $1 charge to roll it up again, but I preferred to collect the fee all at once. The fee would be waived and free of charge if the window was already open. There was now a $1 per answer fee for any question that was asked of me and that included the pre-cursor “Can I ask you a question?”

I told the postman that there was now a $5 per week opening fee for opening my mailbox to deliver the mail and I told the food delivery people that they had to pay $2 or forego their tip for me to open the front door. It would be a $3 fee if they parked in my driveway because that would be charged as an extra $1 for a “standing fee.” There was now a $10 fee to park in my driveway for more than ten minutes. I have included a 39 cent fee for all letters, which I have graciously saved people the hassle of paying over the phone because I have opted to send all of my mail as “postage due.”

And my all time favorite fee was now the $2 per ten minute standing in line fee at every establishment that I have visited. It was a $3 per ten minute fee after I have been up for eight hours on any given day and well, it was double time on Sundays. I have also included a $5 fee for every five minutes I have to wait in the waiting room of my local ER and it was a $10 fee per five minutes if I deemed the attendant/nurse to have a snotty attitude.

I forecast that business for me is about to boom, so I had a credit card machine installed in my house and I even have a portable credit card machine while on the road. Of course, the use of a credit card required another 3% convenience charge on top of the original fee. I used to be “user friendly” but I realized that businesses made a lot of money by attaching fees, which in turn, added significantly to their bottom line. Therefore, I have decided to increase my own personal wealth by getting in on all of the “Fee Madness.”

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