I’m sick of fees just to be a customer

In a world where consumers are constantly bombarded with new fees – from banking to data overage on a cellphone plan – the last thing I want to do is pay to be a customer. Remember when it used to be good enough just to spend your hard-earned money with a company? That’s not sufficient nowadays.

Prime Day, Amazon’s version of Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) in July happened last year. For a cool US$119 per year membership fee, you could be part of the not-so-exclusive club of Amazon shoppers.

Sure, there are some great deals of which to take advantage and a free shipping offer, but I am still against the whole idea of having to pay to receive a discount. It can be argued that frequent Amazon customers will easily make up the membership amount in free shipping if they place enough orders over the course of the year. But I just can’t get over the idea of having to pay more to get free shipping. Whatever my objections, clearly I’m in the minority because Prime Day is estimated by industry insiders to do over $3 billion in sales this year.

This whole pricing structure is partially, well, the main reason, why I won’t pay for a Costco membership.

For years I’d heard that Costco was such an incredible store and that you could get large quantities at super-cheap prices. OK, good deal. When I heard I needed to flash a membership card just to get into the store, that bothered me.

They expect me to pay them to be a customer? I have to pay them so I can spend my money there? It’s true that if I want to buy a case-load of frozen burgers that it might be cheaper to get the oversized crate from Costco but is it really that much cheaper than getting meat somewhere else? Not really.

Then there are the companies that charge you fees just for being a customer. This isn’t even going above and beyond the regular cost of merchandise. These are companies that charge you to shop with them.

I noticed it a few weeks ago when I considered buying tickets for a concert. The cost of three tickets was a couple hundred dollars but tacked on top of that was a processing fee of almost $40. Suddenly the face value of tickets isn’t enough, I have to pay for a computer to spit out tickets? Really?

This reminds me of shopping before I understood how sales taxes worked. Just because something was listed as $19.99 didn’t mean I could hand a 20-dollar bill and be on my way. Now I wonder how much the item will cost me with fees, shipping, etc. If it is more than I expected, I find somewhere else to get it.

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