FEE FIGHT: Are You Adding Too Many Charges?

Posted on May 12, 2009 by LCT Magazine

SLAMMING CLIENTS: Have you ever looked at a hotel bill? The $100 room you were quoted on the phone or Internet really costs you $150 when you see all the extra line items that are taxes and service fees. I absolutely hate this because I believed the price that I was quoted was the price I would be paying — period. It is a sure-fire way to lose a customer from ever returning to that property regardless of how good the service is or how well the property is kept. The practice is deceptive.
Limousine companies are following the lead of the hotel industry and they too are adding line items to the final bill. The most familiar is the STC or standard transportation charge. There is nothing standard about this charge. It varies among companies. When I call for a quote for anything, all I want is the bottom line. What is it going to cost me when all is said and done? I am annoyed when the person on the other side of the phone has to sit and calculate costs for me. Don’t you know your own prices? Want to really fire up a consumer? Add both an STC and a fuel service charge to your bill.  Consumers are getting smarter and know to ask the questions, but periodically one will slip by who doesn’t “understand” the charges. Wouldn’t it just be easier to give the consumer the bottom line?
One argument that companies use is that they don’t pay the chauffeur on STC, thus the joke that the acronym stands for straight to the company or save the company. From the chauffeur's side it could mean “stick the chauffeur.” Who are you fooling though? 
Another interesting charge is the late-night/ early-morning fee. If your passenger arrives after a certain time of night such as midnight, the passenger is charged an extra $25. If your client’s plane gets delayed and arrives two hours late after midnight, does your chauffeur tell the client that he now owes another $25?
I hope you didn’t like him too much because after that he won’t like you. I know that operators will argue that they can’t get chauffeurs to take the late night or early morning runs. That is just bunk. Most of the companies who charge it don’t pass it along to the chauffeur for the inconvenience of getting out of bed late at night or early in the morning. Come on folks, let’s be honest here. 
While we are at it let's discuss gratuity. When you add it automatically to the bill, it is not gratuity. It is just another charge.  Gratuity is given at the grace of the client for good service. When you automatically add it, you have taken away the client’s choice. I have heard it all. The client just needs to call in and we will eliminate it. Right, how often does that happen? Know what really happens? They go somewhere else. 
With the state of our industry right now, it might be a good idea for all of us to relook at hidden charges and consider quoting bottom lines.
-- Linda Moore, LCT East Coast editor 
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