A fee by any other name

Rogers announced they’re dropping the hated $6.95 cellphone system access fee. They’re replacing it with a “regulatory recovery fee” ranging from $2.46 to $3.46. They’re also raising their rates by $5. The net effect is that rates will increase between $.51 and $1.51. Rogers is also adding three non-optional calling features, in vain effort to minimize the wrath that will surely ensue. Talk about rate rage.

This is a scheme so brilliant it could only have been developed by a marketer in collusion with an accountant. To announce a lowering of fees when it is actually a fee increase is the finest example of double-speak.

It actually goes further than that. Why even list any separate fee? It’s the same kind of deception and nonsense we see in car prices (with fees for freight and inspection) and airline tickets (with fees for security, landing, taking off, passenger facility, airport use, and god knows what else.)

The bottom line is that there should be only one bottom line. Only one number should be given for any price. (Well, one pre-tax number, anyway.)

Here’s how I (or any sane tech writer) would have documented this change:

We are increasing our rates by $.51 to $1.51. To somewhat offset this, we’ll now include three new calling features that regularly cost $11. As an additional goodwill gesture, we’ll give you 100 free airtime minutes.

It’s honest, it’s clear and it respects the user; something all documentation should do.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “A fee by any other name

  1. KenWeinberg

    Are you sure “pre-tax” prices are the way to go? There's a movement afoot to enforce all-inclusive pricing. The gas pumps have it. The liquor store has it. Isn't it just easier?! BTW, I like the pie-charts shown at the gas pumps that show where the pieces of a dollar go in your gas purchase. It helps me feel less angry at the gas company for the $$$ I have to pay for their product.

  2. Andrew Brooke

    Yes, in fact in some countries, all-inclusive pricing is the standard. But then retailers would get upset because they would no longer be able to advertise the lower (fake) number. The upcoming HST may have an affect on this, but in the interim, be a geek and always carry a calculator to get the true price.

Comments are closed.