You probably don’t want to know. But companies are now routinely charging customers a fee (most of it is pure profit to them) to pay their bills. The latest, reports the Los Angeles Times, is a fee to pay a Verizon phone bill.
Beginning Oct. 16, Verizon Communications will charge $3.50 for any nonrecurring payment using a credit or debit card. In other words, if you don’t sign up for their regular bill-paying program and prefer to pay each month with plastic, you’ll pay more.
If that sounds as outrageous to you as it does to me, brace yourself: Other businesses, including credit cards, charge in the “pay to pay” scheme. You could be the next victim.
Chase bank, for example, says on its statements that “Chase Fast/Pay is a quick and convenient payment option … with one simple phone call.” If you need help from a living, breathing service rep, the charge is $20, according to the Times.
But even if you use Chase’s automated phone system, the charge is still $15.
But as I’ve reported on my travel blog, these “convenience fees” have been around a long time, and appear to be spreading.
Analysts believe the “convenience” fee for buying an airline ticket with a credit card has a bright future, and that it’s only a matter of time before being widely adopted.
Perhaps the only reason more airlines don’t charge them yet is that they may be interpreted as a violation of existing credit card merchant agreements in the United States. Germany recently banned the Irish airline RyanAir from charging a credit card fee.
Still, there’s immense pressure from the airline industry to add “convenience” fees to their tickets, and industry-watches say it’s just a matter of time before figure out a way to do it legally.
Companies are walking a fine line. If customers don’t like these fees, they’ll leave. A survey released just today suggests the American consumer is downright trigger-happy, when it comes to leaving a business.
Maybe that’s something companies should consider when considering these new fees.
(Photo: Casey/Flickr Creative Commons)