The American Fee-Conomy

by R. Hurst on July 8, 2011

in Capitalism's Welfare Babies,Economics,Subversive

It has been some time since I have taken to this blog. I have recently moved across the country and changed jobs. I have missed writing regularly and will be able to post more frequently for the next couple of months.

I have had some unique experiences moving across the country. I have had the opportunity to work with a number of companies that I wouldn’t normally work with. Needless to say, it has not been a pleasure.

Do you ever get tired of being treated like dirt by companies? Or treated like a sponge that is meant to be twisted dry of any surplus money that might remain in the deepest parts of your insides? Because I am becoming fed up. Take, for example, my US Airways flight. I made my decision based on the price of the fare – like most people do. However, after I checked bags and bought my dog’s ticket it ended up costing me another $300 for my one-way flight. Nearly doubling my total flight costs. My experience renting a car wasn’t that much different after getting things that should be included in the cost anyway – I ended up paying 50% more than my original quoted price. My movers did the same except they were even more dishonest. I live on the second floor and they tried to charge me an additional $130 to walk up 3 flights of stairs. Again, I lived on the second floor and you had to climb one flight of stairs. This was after they had sent me a ‘binding’ quote that, if correct, was unchangeable if my inventory was correct. My inventory came in UNDER my quoted inventory and they tried to charge me an additional $500 based on the “eyeball quote” that my mover gave me. I read the fine print and this “eyeball quote” made any other quote null and void. Basically they get you to agree on price and then once you are desperate and have no other options they try to steal another chunk of your flesh. I am not going to write a full review of the company, yet, because they still have my stuff and I don’t trust them. Then, I shipped my car. Skylar at Cascade Auto Shipping told me to check out his reviews because he was trustworthy (I came to learn later that he promises customers a refund ‘if they work with him’ and then makes the refund contingent on a 5 star rating). He is so honest he called the initial fee he charged me a “deposit” despite not one dime going anywhere else besides his pocket. I came to learn later that I would have saved $285 if I would have worked directly with a trucking company – something Skylar told me wasn’t possible. Skylar failed to notify the trucking company (who only takes cash) that I would have my car packed with items for my move – something the trucking company ended up charging me another $100 fee for. (To avoid this mistake ask the “trucking company” – most are brokers – to send you proof of insurance on their trucks and you will save a couple hundred dollars.)

I didn’t make perfectly informed decisions, I made the best decisions with the information that I had. The problem is – COMPANIES DELIBERATELY HIDE INFORMATION THAT WOULD IMPACT YOUR DECISION IN ORDER TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU LATER. There are entire industries based on this type of practice. (I would love for you to mention your favorites in the comments.)

Am I crazy to want to be treated fairly? Is it too much to ask to feel empowered as a consumer?

As of now I have lost all faith in the idea that I can make an impact by “taking my business elsewhere.” If I do, the same parent company likely owns the competition.

Sorry to ramble. I guess, if I was trying to make an argument it would be this: that instead of making things in America we steal from each other. Consider the variable pricing model or even the “loss leader” model made famous by Wal Mart. It is a strategy based on the notion that you can trick people into paying more for something than they have to if you can trick them into chasing artificial price incentives. We are not a nation that produces – we are a nation that fees. And you can’t fee your way to prosperity.

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