As with my last post, I want to start this one by saying that I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about on this subject, but it interests me. I’ve formed my own opinions about the subject, and I’ll share them, but they’re opinions, not fact.
I recently had to go to the Men’s Wearhouse to rent a tuxedo for my son for my brother’s upcoming wedding, and I was perplexed by how the costs were presented. It reminded me of the fees that I incur at my gym, and several other places that I do business.
It was simple. The tuxedo rental was $99, plus tax. On the invoice, however, there was an additional $7 “rental charge.” It was described as a non-refundable fee to cover any wear & tear on the garments, and that it’s standard across all of their rental agreements.
At my gym, I pay a monthly fee. Let’s call it $35/month. However, in the membership contract, there is also two $15 charges. One in January and one in June. They are “club maintenance fees.” They were described to me as a separate fund that is used to keep the equipment new and up-to-date, and to modernize any portions of the facility that needed to be updated.
What am I paying for?
In both the tuxedo rental and the gym membership, what am I paying for? I understand that there is overhead to running a business, and that you need to pay your employees, pay for utilities, cleaning crews, etc. Those costs should be part of the fees that I pay you for your service. Additional, line-itemed fees should be optional charges that are above and beyond the base services.
For example, my hosting company charges me $12.95 a month for hosting, and $5 a month more because I added a second SQL server instance. That makes total sense to me.
If you need to charge me $7 for wear and tear on the garments, why isn’t that just part of the cost of the rental? Why are you calling it out as a special fee? I’m sure there’s a reason, but it’s just not clear to me as a consumer. What does my $99 cover, if not the wear and tear on the garments?
For the “club maintenance fees", are you telling me that all of the membership dues don’t contribute to the overall appearance and maintenance of the health equipment? What does my $35 a month pay for? It’s certainly not customer service or knowledgeable staff.
I’m sure you’ve encountered fees like this as well, and I’d love for you to help shed some light on this for me. I really don’t understand why these fees are called out seperately.
Is it a marketing tactic, so that they can say their rentals are under $100, or their membership dues are lower than they appear?
Is it an accounting practice, because fees aren’t taxed, so they have to do them seperately?