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If It Quacks Like A Duck...

Updated on August 4, 2010
This is a loon. It does not quack like a duck.
This is a loon. It does not quack like a duck.
Even though this guys may well be a "quack," he does not quack like a duck either.
Even though this guys may well be a "quack," he does not quack like a duck either.

Enough already with the fees, man!

I am really beginning to hate the word "fee." I think it's a word that has all too quickly become something used in the business world in the place of the term price increase, in much the same way that the tax man has seen fit to use the word in the place of the term, new taxes.

"No, sir. This is not a tax. It's simply a fee."

Try this one on for size if you will. "No, sir. We did not raise our price. We simply added a fee."

Ah, but of course. You are right. How could it possibly have occurred that I may have gotten the two words confused? It's not a tax. It's simply a fee paid—never mind that that fee we're talking about is paid to a government agency. How silly of me to have thought that it could be a tax. And yes. Here it is as plain as day before my very eyes. How silly of me again. The last time I stayed at your hotel it was $40 a night. And here it is in plain writing—it's still just $40 a night. You have not raised your price at all. The additional $11.95 a night is simply a fee.

That's a resort fee in case you were wondering

Yeah, I paid that. When my wife and I visited Las Vegas this past May, we paid an additional $12 a night for our resort fee. According to our travel agent, it's something they started doing a year or so ago to cover expenses like providing towel cleaning services, for example. They were added to help pay for those little fancy wrapped bars of soap they leave for you along the sink, and they were added to help pay for those convenient little bottles of shampoo and conditioners they typically provide guests.

All of which in the past were, of course, a part of the room rate. Were they not?

Oh yes. The resort fee is also used to help pay for the maid to come in every day and turn the sheets.

Did I miss something?

Are any of these services new? Did they (the hotels) only recently start offering the maid to come into your room and spruce it up? I thought that this was standard operating procedure for any hotel operation. Wasn't this always a part of the room rate that the guest paid? Wasn't this service a part of the product.

Here's a thought, if I may go on a bit of a stretch here. If I go into a McDonald's do I buy the soda and then get charged a cup fee? A server's fee? Perhaps a fountain machine service and maintenance fee?

Okay. The reality is that I do pay for all of that. No question there. Obviously what I ultimately hand to the girl behind the counter for my soda at McDonald's includes the cost of that restaurant's overhead. Of course it does. It's simply a part of the total cost of my soda. It's built in.

So, what does the word "fee" mean to me? Hidden cost. Plain and simple. You advertise one price, and then start adding on things.

Baggage fees are getting ridiculous too

Look, I fully understand that there are plenty of passengers who board a plane and would bring along with them everything but the kitchen sink if they could. I never knew exactly how much stuff a person could travel with until I got married and took the first trip with my wife.

So, you set a standard weight limit for everyone's baggage. Fine. Total weight is "x." We'll all live with that. But when you start to tack on fees for every little thing, it just starts to get really annoying, and you start to feel like the whole idea of, "What price is it?" is moot. No one wants to stand there at the ticket counter and hear fees being tacked on. The person behind the counter starts to sound more like a cash register dinging than a person at all, as your ticket quickly jumps from a $300 ticket to a $500 one. (Okay, that may be a slight stretch, but I'm just saying!)

And yes. You can argue all day that perhaps a guy with 5 bags should pay more than a guy with 2. Maybe. But again, setting a weight standard eliminates that. Everyone is entitled to bring the same weight. If you choose to take less than that, so be it.

The bottom line is to come up with an average cost for your overhead overall, determine what your desired mark up is, and charge me one price. As a matter of business, you'll eat the cost on some and make up the cost on others.

But I don't feel sleighted in the process.

An argument I had with my insurance agent once, and believe it or not I thought the insurance company had it right (God help us all when that happens!)

He kept talking to me about replacement value. It was because my insurance rates went up, and I was disputing the logic. He said to me that the cost to rebuild my house from the ground up was now more costly than it was before. I told him, "Well, that is only in the event that the house completely burns down." He agreed. "I live in the city," I told him. He agreed. "In a one mile radius I have about 3 fire stations." Okaaaay? he said, suddenly sounding a bit lost. I went on, "Who's house is more likely to burn to the ground? My house in the city with 3 fire stations within a mile of my house, professional fire stations mind you, or a house in the country with one volunteer fire station which is likely much farther away?"

Now finally understanding the point that I was trying to make, he of course he told me that in the grander scheme it doesn't matter what the individual contribution to the risk is. It's based on a national average. The rate is one rate that is based on the combined likelihood that my house will burn to the ground.

This little fact is irksome in that it likely costs me more in insurance premiums per thousand of claims value than say, a guy who lives in the boonies whose house is far more likely to be a pile of charcoal long before the first water hose even arrives on the scene. But, in a way it also makes sense to me that it is better to tell me one price. Keep it all out, and open, and on the table. One price. "This, sir, is your rate." No fees for this risk, or that risk. No hidden costs. Just one price.

Yes. Everyone's rates are technically different. But the method for factoring the rates is the same.

Hotels and airlines should take note—and perhaps the government too

Why not simply say the price is going up? If it has to go up, it has to go up. Look, I get that inflation occurs. I certainly can relate to expenses going up. My expenses go up all the time. But just be honest about it. Add up the average cost of providing for my baggage (based on that standard weight I talked about), add up the average cost of the ammenities and services you provide me when I rent a room at your hotel, add up the average cost of a mile at whatever price the gas may be, and simpy include it all in the price of the product you are selling to me. I'd rather pay a few pennies more for the average than have umpteen million hidden fees tacked on.

And what of the government? Apply the same rules. Be honest. (Okay, the words honest and government really don't ever feel right together, I'll concede that) Look, if it costs you "x" amount to run the FCC, then include it in the income taxes I already pay to you for everything else. I know the FCC fees that show up on my cable bill and my telephone bill every month is a tax and not a fee. I know that when you say you're not raising my taxes, you are lying to me straight to my face when suddenly I find myself paying fees to the government. And when you tell me that I'm the important customer, and you're not raising the price for me, just adding fees is all, I know you are lying to me as well. You are taking me for a fool. You are taking me for someone who can be soaked, and nickled and dimed at.

You are manipulating me. And that doesn't make me feel very important at all.

In the not so distant past, companies would not be so eager to tack on such fees. Lately, however, this whole fee idea has become all the craze. Everyone's doing it. Everyone's adding fees. And why? The argument is always, "Costs, my man. Costs to get product to you. Costs to carry product for you. Cost to provide additional services to you. It all adds up. Can you dig it?"

I can dig it all right. Hmm. Businesses only seem to understand those justifications when it applies to their costs apparently.

Funny. When I went to my boss and told him, "Sir, I know I work for $15 an hour. But here's the thing. The cost of my soap to wash my uniform has gone up. I'll have to charge you an extra 15 cents an hour for that. And gas. Whew! Have you seen those prices? It costs me more to get to work everyday now too, so I'll have to tack on another 25 cents an hour for that. Let's see, you require me to have a clean shave every day, and those razors?...Now, this is NOT a pay raise, sir. These are simply fees..."

I seem to recall getting met with a big smile, and then a stern look. "That's pretty funny. Now get back to work."

The bottom line is that if it quacks like a duck, it sure in the hell ain't no damn swan.


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    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Wisconsin

      Yes. The good old days when companies actually made things with pride, and made every effort to ensure that their customers were well taken care of just simply by becoming an owner of their product. I remember a conversation I had at Sears when I bought my lawn mower. The kid kept pushing the extended warranty. "What if it breaks?" he asked me. "Warranty or no, if it breaks, you'll get it back."

      That all said, it amazes me how many people don't push back. If more people did, these companies would have no choice but to honor the quality of their products. People nowadays accept too much, and demand very little. And the companies and the stores who sell these products know this all too well, and make a ton of money as a result.

      Great to see you in these parts by the way. Thanks for stopping in.

    • Paladin_ profile image


      5 years ago from Michigan, USA

      And if fees weren't bad enough, how about warranties? Remember the good old days when companies offered FREE warranties because they believed in their products and they wanted to demonstrate it? (I remember the old Curtis-Mathis commercials that promoted a FIVE-YEAR warranty because, by golly, they were the best TVs on the market!)

      Now, offering an "extended" warranty is a routine part of the sales process, with only benefits for the company. Not only do they get extra money for the warranty, they now get your personal information to add to their advertising database (in the good old days, warranties USED to be anonymous until you had to call for service, and your sales receipt was all you needed).

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Plus, doesn't it serve to make us all think that THEY think we're too stupid to get it? Sometimes that's the impression that I get. Not that long ago I ordered out, and realized that the restaurant was adding a $2 delivery fee to my order. I usually tip the driver about $2. When I didn't this time the guy kind of looked at me incredulously, and I knew what he was thinking. I explained to him that the delivery fee IMO is the predetermined company's tip to you charged to me. I'd have gladly paid HIM the $2 directly for his expedient delivery and courteous manner, but no matter how you slice it, having the food delivered to my door was NOT worth a $4 premium. Besides, I just don't like fees. If your drivers are complaining that cheap customers aren't tipping enough to cover their gas, then raise the price of your menu items and PAY YOUR DRIVER'S MORE. That's as simple as it gets.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Great insurance company values my home at $70K more than the last appraised sale figure. Then they use that figure to determine what my % of deduct is on a claim....utter BS. The company that delivers my drink water (spring water) for the dispenser in the house refuses to raise the price but charges a $2.07 fee for showing up at the house regardless of whether I order any water or not. BS...grow some balls and raise your damn price if you cannot afford the gasoline to deliver the water. I can respect that. I am willing to pay for your driver to ramble the streets in hopes of a sale! Anyone who thinks the public is buying this approach is simply blowing smoke up their own ass. It is a chicken-crap way of doing nothing more than raising the price with the hope that the competition is not alerted to their strategy. I have no respect for their processes or their ability to define the price-worthiness of their product. Thanks for a great hub! WB

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      One can count on that like nothing else. It's unfortunate, but true. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      The only thing certain in life: death and taxes (aka fees??) Great article - good points

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      You know, I never gave that a moments thought that technically, at some point, you could have a fee tacked on, and the fee could be taxed as a sale. Oh boy. PLEASE do not let this comment thread fall into any Congressional hands lest light bulbs start going off...

      There's an awfully big deficit they've got these days.

      Thanks for stopping in Zsuzsy.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      It just came to my mind as I'm reading your hub (agreeing with every word...) by calling all these additions which used to be originally included in prices 'fees', they (governments & businesses alike)are leaving the door wide open so that next year they will be able to come up with a fee on fees and then the inevitable the 'fee-tax'.

      great hub

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      LeanMan, don't give anyone any ideas. They may just use them. :)

      Cy, as am I.

    • Cy V profile image

      Cy V 

      8 years ago

      I'm so tired of fees.

    • LeanMan profile image


      8 years ago from At the Gemba

      Have you paid your hubber fee for this month or your Google fee?? If not you can pay directly through their PayPal account, just email me and I will provide you with their details... lol

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Petra, "creative" when it comes to coming up with more new products I don't really need, but that they can convince me I need, is one thing. But when it comes to creatively sneaking behind me and reaching for my wallet unsuspectingly...that's a very different thing. Kind of reminds me of that line in the movie "Vacation" when Chevy asks the mechanic how much his repairs will cost. "How much ya got?" :)

      Billy, so true. We all must keep that Anna Lappe quote that I use probably far too often, but just makes a whole lot of sense to me. ""Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." If we collectively allow ourselves to be suckered, then suckers we will be. We ARE the markets, and the ONLY reason we pay is because we are willing to.

      Katie, soap boxes are good. I like soap boxes. Mine's pretty well used...if it goes out, I'm sure the replacement won't be nearly as good as the first one was... :)

      Carolina, let's all band together and refuse the fees. We'll have you lead the posse. We could use the muscle.

      Patti, yeah. When I wrote those two words together smoke started to come out of my keyboard.

      Tom, point WELL made. It reminds me of something Judge Judy oft applies to teenagers which we could just as easily apply to politicians. "Do you know how I can tell when a teenager is lying? When their lips are moving."

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      It sounds like you a are making an argument for "Truth In Advertising". That would be way too much to ask for particularly of the Government!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Patti Ann profile image

      Patti Ann 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Another great hub! The government be honest - ha ha funny one!!

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Man, I agree 1000% -- this 'fee' thing is really ridiculous... if you HAVE to pay it, it's part of the price, not some mandatory upgrade.

      I hate that!!

      Great post!

    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      Springboard, Oh have you hit on a nerve, we are feeeeee'd to death and we just don't get what we pay for either. I tell my baby boomer Mom, Dad passed young, she had it made. They paid one price for something with no FEES and it was built to last. We pay triple or more for the same products and they DON'T last it's seems you constantly have to replace a dead appliance or other... They weren't fee'd to death when we were in school either, Ah great hub, it's just made me jump straight on my soap box! Great hub!

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      We are taxed out of this world - for everything - new charges - airlines the worst but it is everywhere. How about those bank charges. What is that expression taxing us out of our existence

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Being "creative" is nothing new for business and government alike and since we sooo hate the word "tax" , new and "improved" euphemistic ways are coming into our lives so they can offer us "good deals". Between taxes and fees our utilities bill is 35% higher than the usage and so on.

      Things will not get better any time soon, but not to worry, HP is still free until they add a tax and a fee for venting our frustrations.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Drchris, I exxagerated the baggage fees a bit in a bit of sarcasm. They tend to actually run around $23-$25 depending on the airline. But that can be per bag in some cases depending on how many bags you have and what not. But I would wholeheartedly agree. Buying new clothes might be the better idea. Course, then again, you'd probably want to bring them back with you... what a conundrum.

      Vocalcoach, the only thing I can gather as to the "why don't they just tell us about the fees" question, is because they get away with charging them, and so many people are accustomed to paying them. They (the customers) figure, it's just par for the course. Merlin said it best when he quipped, "When are we the down trodden going to rise once more and take back our world?" We have to start telling businesses where they can take their fees.

      Hello, oh the world of marketing. :)

      Phsychicdog, thanks, and thanks for stopping by.

      Wesman, great to see you. Yes, unfortunately that's true.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      8 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Jedi mind tricks!

      Word games!

      These are what we have to deal with more and more often.

    • profile image 

      8 years ago

      Very interesting hub, Springboard. Enjoyed reading your astute observations.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      These people are geniuses in inventing fees. Thank you for a great eye openeer.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I have learned to always ask the question, "are there any additional fees?", and of course there always is. Why, when a quote is being given to a customer don't they just include the "fees" up front. I recently, suddenly got hit with bank fees. It took 2 hours of my time to finally get a straight answer as to why the fees were added to my account. I was so darn mad, I threatened to close my account and of course the "fees" were quietly dismissed. Urgh! A great hub. Thanks!

    • drcrischasse profile image

      Cristopher Chasse 

      8 years ago from Boston

      I would literally rather buy new clothes than bay a 100 dollar baggage fee

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Gus, what's next? :)

      Merlin, what's that old saying companies live by? Charge what the market is willing to bare. So, your question is astute in that WE are the MARKET. When do we stop baring?

      Tom, I wrote a hub a while back on "just pay handling." It's another irksome thing for me. I keep hearing, "Order now and we'll send you this knife set free (just pay shipping), and this neat little pen (just pay shipping)..."

      By the time they get done with you you're $14.95 Snuggie just cost you $50 to ship all that "free" stuff. Where does it end?

      Tammy, maybe if we can get rid of those darned fees we can all have a laugh...all the way to the bank. :)

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      8 years ago

      super funny! Thumbs way up. I hate all those fees they add on. Expedia got sued for charging hidden fees. Thanks for sharing this it made me laugh.

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 

      8 years ago from home


      If it quacks like a duck - yes but just because it does not stink does not make it a pile of $h1t and that s what they are telling us crap

      a fee by any other name is still a tax - especially when it is levied by the government- I hate politicial symantics. shipping and handling fee- at least libraries are open about late fees, overdraft fees. Ua did something wrong- ya pay more-I can deal with that but a baggage handling fee- I did not do anything out of the ordinary- why am i getting clipped-???

      great hub SB

      Was it shakespeare that said a tax by any other name is still a fee.


    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 

      8 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      God how I hate your Hubs....

      Just when you thought life couldn't get any worse up you pop with the latest money making wheeze from American Corporations which you just know will soon cross the pond and inflict us over here as well.

      We already have what are jokingly referred to as 'No Frills Airlines' that fly between places no one has ever heard of at stupid times and charge a fortune to get you closer to civilization. Where everything else imaginable is extra I think they even wanted to charge to go to the toilet during the flight.

      Is this just another example of PC speak ?

      When are we the down trodden going to rise once more and take back our world ?

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      8 years ago from USA

      Springboard - Although it is a person's right to have a trial by a jury of their peers, if you ask for a jury trial in a civil case, you have to pay a fee to get one.

      Gus :-)))

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Msorensson, glad to bring some levity to the table. :)

      Nifty, besides the fact that before you even get on the plane you have to nearly strip down. I get why we have to do all this...but it doesn't mean its any less annoying.

      Thing is, Sheila, that they're praying on the next generation who doesn't know any better. They think this is just how things work. It's a part of life. Taxes and fees. Not too long ago I bought a CD at Walmart for my wife and they asked me if I wanted to pay $1 to replace it if it is broken. I said, "If it's broken I'll bring it back and you'll GIVE me another one." I wonder how many people nod their heads and go, "Yeah. Great idea." The world is a funny place these days.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      Businesses think they're being smart to tack on fees instead of raising the price. Don't they realize all that matters to us is the total amount we're paying? I haven't stayed at a hotel for a year or so, haven't experienced those kinds of 'fees'. If I ever do, Ii'll go to their web site and leave a comment about it.

    • nifty@50 profile image


      8 years ago

      I really hate to fly, with the baggage fees, long waits. You finally get to your seat and someone has their bag in your overhead! Then there's the silly shoe and liquids what a drag! Now their charging you for a seat assignment! Great hub!

    • msorensson profile image


      8 years ago

      ha ha you described it is the reason I have no wish to travel anymore..

      I am too old for that

      Thank you, Springboard. You made my evening by making me laugh.

      By the way, you do a great job in choosing the books on Amazon.

    • Springboard profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Dahoglund, it's funny you mention furniture. My wife and I recently bought a new bedroom set, but the one thing that floored me was how they've changed the way they count the pieces. It used to be a 5 piece set was a bed, two nightstands, a chest of drawers, and a dresser. Now a 5 piece set is a bed, and a chest of drawers. Seems they count the headboard, the footboard, and the two side rails as 4 pieces now. lol. When my parents bought furniture it wasn't like this, and the sad thing is that the new generation of buyers has no idea they are being taken for one hell of a ride. :)

      POP, lol. Don't give them any ideas! :)

      Drbj, at least you warned me in advance of the higher fees? Ah, jeez!

      Msorensson, at an airport anymore I feel like I'm a cow at a slaughterhouse waiting my turn to have that steel rod rammed through my skull...

    • msorensson profile image


      8 years ago

      I am used to fees at airports. I had to pay it every time I went home to the Philippines.

      But you are right. It is getting ridiculous.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      OK - I'll leave a comment and it will be positive. But you need to know that I charge a fee for positive comments. And the fee will be higher next month.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      I might be crazy but I thought I heard that Spirit Airlines may start charging a fee if you need to talk to someone from the airline!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I'm old enough to remember when you bought a meal that a cup of coffee was included in the price. Now you not only pay extra for the coffee but sometimes it is very expensive coffee. you used to be able to buy something like furniture and the store would deliver it and set it up. Now if you cant haul it home you probably have to hire someone to do that.


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