November 8, 2011

Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum … and I Hate Mr. Fee The Most

By Paul Bieber

Fie, Foe and Fum are not bad. But it is their brother Fee that has me the most upset. Why can’t businesses quote a price that actually relates to what we are paying. Just this morning my wife bought two things on line, some tickets to a play and she sent a fruit basket to a family as the father of a friend passed away.

On each purchase, brother Fee tacked on over 20% to the purchase price. Paying shipping is OK, but Internet handling fees, and rush service charges are slowly pushing us back to local bricks and mortar stores. I buy a lot of books, and my wife pointed out to me, just a few minutes ago, a local book shop is having a great sale. I will visit this store in person. And when I visit in person, I always end up spending more than I would have on the Internet. Browsing among many items is always more fun in person.

Back to the wicked brother, Mr. Fee. Airline fares, train tickets and every other form of travel, other than walking or riding your bicycle has a fee attached. My cell phone bill is 21% fees! There is now a cell company advertising a flat rate, including all fees. When my current contract expires, that’s where I will be heading. We all have fees in our businesses, but we call this overhead. I don’t know any glass shops that add fees for the taxes they have to pay, or because they go into rural areas. Your service call may be higher, the farther away from your office, but you don’t charge that to everyone as a fee. Would you get any business if you did?

Does this affect us in the glass business? You Betcha! Energy surcharges, delivery surcharges, waiting time, recycling fees and so on. When you quote your customers a price, make it all inclusive. If your competitors add on after-sale charges, then be sure to advertise that you don’t. Keep it simple and your customers will be happier, which means you will be happier, too.

Blog follow-up—I recently wrote about my applying for a job at the Boston Red Sox, and I figured that it was a done deal. As a show of support, I now understand quite a few of my regular readers wrote to the Red Sox, asking them to hire me. There was a common thread, too. They all wanted me to get away from the glass industry. It was sweet of them to try to help me.