Monday, December 12, 2011
Land of the Fee
It seems that banks like charge for these services. Remember when people wrote checks? Now most of our business is done through bank cards--actually debit/credit cards--that the bank issues to reduce paperwork. It is suppose to save money and lighten the work load--which should, if one does it right, increase the profit for the bank because there are less expenses. But apparently the profit margin wasn't what the banks wanted--they wanted more. To increase the profit they started to add fees for services that once were the bedrock of banking--there is no longer such a thing as "free checking", the return of written checks, or even a free toaster for opening an account. No, there are now fees for checking accounts--unless you keep a minimum of half-a-million dollars in your account; there is a monthly charge if you want a paper record sent to you; and the toaster--what's a toaster? Then there were rumors that they were going to start charging a monthly fee for using the required debit/credit card necessary to do any sort of purchasing. We have to pay the bank to use our money? Something is not adding up and it sure isn't adding up in my account!
Want to pay a bill by the phone? That is going to cost you because they are going to charge you for that privilege. Check out the various service charges tacked on to your cell phone bill. One guy in the AARP article said he got charged two dollars for a piece of tape in one of those package shipping stores. Another guy got charged two bucks at one of those high-end department stores for a spritz of cologne. Now, tell me, is that not ridiculous?
The solution offered by the author in the article is to take business elsewhere. She also suggested complaining to the manager or the company president if possible. She stated that after consumers railed against Bank of America's attempt to charge five dollars a month for using a debit card, the bank abandoned its plans. Isn't that sweet until they can find somewhere else to tack on a fee?
So, what's a frustrated old fart like me suppose to do? I might take my business elsewhere, I might complain to the manager, and I might even write a letter to the company president. Maybe things will changed, but I doubt it. Instead I think I will fight fire with fire--or fees with fees. From now on, whenever I am asked to do something by someone who works in business or financial institution--I'm going to charge them a fee for my time and services. If I have a company come to my house to fix a broken appliance--of which they are going to charge me a service fee even before they begin the work (work which will be paid by the hour)--I'm going to charge them a fee to park in my driveway. Shoot at this rate I think I see my profit for the next year rising quite nicely. Maybe, with this new fee system instituted in my life I just might be able to rise up out of the 99% and join the one percent. You never know . . . by the way, if you read this blog you should send your payment to me at my Swiss bank--I'M KIDDING!
Whatever the case, it feels good to rant and rave whether it ever makes a difference. But it can make a difference if we could ever unite long enough so the financial world hears us--"We're mad as hell and we aren't going to take it anymore!" It is a place to start. I don't want to think of my homeland as the "Land of the Fee".