As a customer, do like to be nickel and dimed? Most don’t! Have you ever been charged extra because you substituted something on the menu in a restaurant? We all have at one time. In fact, I was just at a local restaurant celebrating a special occasion with family when it happened to me. We were a party of 9 people (pretty large size) and one member wanted to substitute asparagus for broccoli on the menu. The waiter says; “No problem. That will be $2 extra.”  Really? Is asparagus that much more expensive? It certainly was disappointing to hear. Particularly since we had such large size party.  

Businesses are often more likely to lose a customer over a small extra fee or charge. As a small business you are often far better off eating those charges yourself or including them in the overall charge of the item. If not, it might leave a sour taste in a customer’s mouth. How much do you think it is going to cost the restaurant to that? It’s not like we were asking them to provide a T-Bone steak instead of a hamburger.

Here are a few guidelines when not to charge for the extras:

  • There is no perceived value to the customer. Customers don’t mind paying for more value or a higher grade. But what value do I perceive when you charge me just for substituting a vegetable on the menu. I’ts not like they have to make an extra trip to go out to a grocery store to buy it.
  • Inflated prices. If I get charged $1 for having the hotel front desk clerk make me a black and white copy, I know I am being overcharged. 
  • Normal costs of doing business. I was once charged a parking charge of $5 for having my attorney drop off papers at the court house. Shouldn’t that be part of the costs of doing business or do I feel nickel and dimed?
  • Your competitors do it so why shouldn’t you. Have you seen your competitor’s sign advertising lower prices yet add on hidden charges? This will most likely generate the most complaints and fewest referrals so don’t do it.
  • Hard to understand fees- It is important to use good judgement to add another line to your bill and always discuss it with the customers before hand. If the add on fees are transparent  or easily understood  they will most likely be accepted.
  • Added services or products- If you are a hairdresser, you can’t charge for normal shampoo, but you can charge for top of the line products or highlights. 

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Remember, extra fees  are usually encountered at the end of the transaction and will often leave a sour taste. Is that the last impression you want to leave? Do you think we will ever go back to that restaurant? Worst yet, how many people have we told that story to? Why not tell the customer that you will be providing those extras complimentary as a way of thanking them and appreciating their business. Now that would be a “Magical Experience”