Monday, March 12, 2012

Gift Fee - huh?

Portfolio effects after the rant.

Next weekend, my son will be coming home for a few days from college. Since he has been here quite a bit he thankfully tried to save us some money and take the bus from Boston to NY. He usually flies but believe it or not it usually works out to be cheaper.  Not so next weekend.

He gets the Greyhound website and finds something interesting. Some of you, including your truly, might say "disgusting" instead. It seems that if you buy a ticket for someone else with your credit card they slap om an $18 gift fee. This is where you cut to the animation of a cartoon character violently shaking his head side to side with jowls flying and hair popping off his head. Huh?  Gift fee?

As a parent, it is completely normal to buy a ticket for a student who does not have a job and therefore no credit card of his own. Basically, it sets a higher price for students. I'll let you leap to the argument that it hurts the poor, too.

Here is an article I found from 2010 detailing Greyhound's big swinging, er, nerve.

So, how does this affect your portfolio? Think about how you pull back when you feel like you are getting nickel and dimed.

We refuse to fly Spirit Airlines (carry-on baggage fee). If we are stuck on Delta we only take carry ons (checked baggage fee). Do you search for certain gas stations that do not charge more when you pay with a credit card? When paying certain bills online do you opt for the bank check option over the credit card when the latter results in a 2% fee? Screw the airline miles. I've only used them twice in thirty years anyway.

The point is we alter our buying behavior to avoid fees. Merchants take note. And investors, you better figure out who is going to get hurt with the mass exodus of fee avoiders.  NetFlix anyone?

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