Remember the hornet’s nest we stirred up a few months back when we called for an end to the airlines’ phony “fuel surcharge”?
Don’t look now, but one of the most unfair fees in corporate America is about to get even more unfair.
If you feel like you paid too much for your last car rental, you may be right.
At the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 101 in Willits, Calif., you’ll find three service stations. But look closely before you pump gas, otherwise you could pay a lot more than you expect.
What follows is a cautionary tale about junk fees, from an industry that journalists like me tend to ignore, unless it’s spilling hundreds of millions of gallons of unprocessed petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico.
But the cost of a product, both perceived and real, are very much in the news today, with a key part of the Affordable Care Act scheduled to kick in Oct. 1. Fees are a hot topic in my neck of the woods, with some industry apologists spinning the absurd argument that junk fees such as the ones I ran into are good for consumers, because it gives them choices.
Ward Chartier almost choked on his breakfast croissant he ordered at Oakland International Airport recently.
The reason for his consternation: an item on the bill that he thought he recognized, but hoped he didn’t.
It said, “EmpBen_Srchg” and it came to 12 cents, or about 2 percent of his bill.
“I interpret this to be employee benefit surcharge,” says Chartier, a consultant who lives in San Ramon, Calif. He asked me if I knew anything about the mysterious fee.
I didn’t, so I asked Oakland Airport.