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Tim Bryce

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Last year when we were paying about $4.50 for a gallon of gasoline, you may remember companies started to add a surcharge to their bills. I saw it in our bills for garbage collection, pest control, irrigation maintenance, pool service, delivery men, etc. They did this to say they haven't raised the price of their service, which I can't believe anyone is stupid enough to believe, but you never know. I even saw a taxi with lettering on their doors stating they had the lowest fare rates in the town, but right below it they listed the surcharge to be added to the bill.

Airlines have also gotten into the act and now have surcharges for checked baggage to offset fuel costs. This "a la carte" mentality is becoming more pervasive in business and instead of paying one simple fee you are now presented with a lengthy bill representing a hefty price tag. The telephone companies are good at this as well, as anyone who has had to read their voluminous bills can tell you.

I really don't understand the psychology of surcharges. Proponents argue that consumers like to believe they are paying low prices and that a surcharge is not a permanent part of the bill, that it's only temporary and will be eliminated sometime in the near future. Right; and pigs will fly too. Now that fuel charges have radically declined, I don't see too many companies eliminating the surcharges. In fact, the price of fuel has reduced so much you would think we would be entitled to a rebate of some kind. Fat chance for that. The only time you see a surcharge removed is when a company finally announces a price increase.

Something I learned a long time ago was that prices only go up; and rarely, if ever do they go down. Probably the best way to think of a surcharge is as a price increase in sheep's clothing. But for those companies who think they are being clever in trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public by using surcharges, please, don't insult our intelligence; an increase is an increase, I don't care what you call it.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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Copyright 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-02-22 11:44:12 in Business Articles

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