Archive for October, 2009

Convenience fees and the nature of government

October 22nd, 2009

I cannot understand how government entities operate. Actually, I can– deficits.

BUT, point is, renewing car registration costs an extra dollar if you mail it instead of going in person. That used to be a 20 mile drive, but is now only 10 or 15. If you do it online, $3 extra. So, it’s worth $1 to avoid all that driving for myriad reasons. That would be a kick below the belt for the planet too–  40 miles just to buy a sticker.

City water/trash utility, $1.95/month to pay online instead of mailing it. They call it a “convenience fee.” They don’t call it, “cover our costs of operating online payments.” It’s a fee because online payments are convenient. What if I punch myself in the face while paying online? Will that wave the fee?

I don’t get this. It does cost money to operate payment servers, but a fact of the tech world is that people cost a lot more than hardware. It is cheaper to do online payments. Not only that, but “online” allows for “automatic recurring,” which has been embraced by every entity that actually has to operate in the black, probably because it 1) cuts costs and 2) increases the likelihood of payment occurring on time. It’s an opportunity for a classic win-win.

But that is not the nature of government.