The culture of “fees”: only in the US?

A great debate raged in the US after the Haitian earthquake.  The credit card fees and the millions upon millions of dollars that credit card companies were making from the generosity of the people touched a nerve in many.  That, coupled with the general fatigue in the population over the “other” bank fees — namely the fees that make the bankers fat and the population poor — produced an indignation over certain industries’ profits that the US hasn’t seen in years.

Then, a couple of days after hearing this indignation over the airwaves and reading about it on internet, I opened a newspaper and saw that John Oliver from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (which is my regular nightly comedy dose) is coming to a theater near me.  “Great,” I thought, “that would be a wonderful evening out.”  That was until I saw the prices — and it was not the price of the ticket that turned me off.  It was the fees.  For a $35 ticket I would have paid at least $17 in fees.  That’s 50% of the ticket!  My reasonably priced $35 ticket would quickly become a $52 dollar ticket.  And for what?  For me clicking a few buttons on the screen and making a purchase on-line?  Why should I be paying this much for them to process a ticket?  And whom would I be paying?  The ticket agencies that somehow decided that it were OK to rip the spectators off?

This was not the first time I had to pay outrageous fees in the US for getting a ticket to a show or a sports event.  I was even told I’d have to pay if I went to pick up my ticket at the theater — a “pick up” fee.  Come on.  Seriously — a pick up fee?

I’ve bought plenty of tickets for performances in Russia and Argentina and I don’t remember paying any fees let alone such outrageous amounts.  Which makes me wonder — why do we, Americans, put up with that?  Why do we let them rob us in daylight?  Is the “culture of fees” so strong in the American psyche that it’s here to stay?

What do you think?  And what has been your experience in other countries?

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2 responses to “The culture of “fees”: only in the US?

  1. I flew to London recently and got an amazing price on round trip tickets from SFO to Heathrow. $150 for the ticket. $300 for the fees and taxes. My phone bill is increased by 50% from the “normal” price by “regulatory recovery fees” and the like. I agree, why do we put up with this?

  2. I think it is all just an illusion to make us think the basic price is more reasonable or affordable. I read an article about the infomercial industry recently and they admitted just that: The additional “postage and handling” charges are set at what ever level they can get away with. In turn, they can set the product’s purchase price at a more attractive level. Supply and demand with an added mind-game twist.

    When I lived in the UK, everyone always complained about how much more everything there cost- with no apparent reason or justification. When iTunes launched in London, their price per song was significantly higher than the price in the US. Why? Because there was sufficient demand and people would keep on paying. The British people were upset, of course, and a mini revolt in the press followed but it lasted only a few days and it didn’t stop many people from paying the higher fees anyway. In the same way, until people reject the mark-ups on prices in the US, they will continue. But isn’t great how cheap everything is here?

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