WOW Word-Of-the-Week #297: Nickeled & Dimed

April 3, 2010 by  

Nickeled & Dimed – what customers feel when retailers charge for things that should be included in the price.

Are you like me and really dislike being charged for things that should be included? Have you flown in the last year? Want to check your bag? Want a pillow or a blanket? How about a meal? Then pay up! All of those were standard items included in the price. Now they are revenue generators. I am all for paying one fair price. Don’t nickel and dime me. Airlines haven’t raised their prices in years and that’s the problem.

On this trip we checked into a 5 star Resort & Spa. The room was beautiful and had all the amenities we expect and get in a US hotel. Bottled water is a given in SE Asia. You just don’t drink out of the tap, and they tell you that. So imagine my surprise when I asked for water at dinner and was charged $2. It’s free in my room.

How about resort fees? I have been charged up to $10 per day. Why is that not just added to the cost of the room? In Phuket they added $1.40 per day for a Turtle Donation. Hey, I am all for saving the turtles but that feels like nickel and diming too.

Been on a cruise lately? In December we took my 91 year old dad to the Panama Canal. The coffee was undrinkable. Cappuccinos were $4 and espresso was $3. When I asked, “How can you charge me for something you give away for free (hot milk)? They had no good answer.
Frankly I was irked that I had to pay that much, but that’s another WOW. (Princess sells espresso cards – $28 for 15 drinks) It would have cost us $16 per day. So to get around that little obstacle, I ordered one espresso with 3 extra shots ($6), went upstairs, got hot milk, and ended up with 4 cups of good coffee. Do you do things like that too?

I’m not even going to get started on the tipping of every single person you come in contact with on the ship. It feels like we are subsidizing the fact that they are paid poor wages. We only go on cruises that have everything included now.

Then there was the time we got charged a wine corkage fee for buying the bottle of wine in the wine shop/restaurant and drinking it there with the food we ordered. Help me please on this one! If you walk in, buy it and walk out, there is no extra charge. So we were penalized for spending an additional $100 for food.

My last rant is when we bought gift cards for Christmas 2008 at a very expensive restaurant. (Let’s not forget we were in the midst of the terrible recession and nobody was spending money) For every $100 you spent they gave you a $25 gift card. We bought a $250.00 gift card. The receipt clearly stated there was no expiration date (and in California it is against the law.) We used them before we left and when it came time to pay, the waiter informed us that they were expired. I asked to see the manager and he came over and pointed out that on the back, in very small fine print, they were only good for 3 months. My receipt clearly stated “No Expiration Date” which I pointed out and then he proceeded to argue with me. He said, “I will honor one of the $25.” To which replied, “I don’t think so.” And proceeded to get up and leave. He continued to argue with me about the fine print on the back of the card and totally dismissed the “No Expiration Date” on the receipt I had.

This week the focus is charging your customers a fair price without nickel & diming them. You tell me, how do you feel when extra charges are added on? If customers are your focus, what are you doing to make them want to come back? Every example I have talked about in this WOW does not make me want to go back to that business. I may have been satisfied with the service and the product but being nickeled & dimed does not leave me feeling loyal to the brand.

Reader Responses

“Customers are being nickeled and dimed to death with charges every day. Wherever they go. It is not only NOT CUSTOMER FRIENDLY, it is bad for business. The word of mouth that spreads after these types of experiences if fatal. And yet, businesses do it they say AS THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS. Especially with the airlines. If airlines are insistent on charging fliers for checked bags, just add it to the cost of the ticket. Even if it is an estimate. Having to pay that cost at the curb or the counter also adds time to the flier before he or she then has to take more time getting through the security lines at airports. It is a nuisance in cost and in time. These are the types of things that turn people off to flying. Add to that the fact fliers can’t bring water or coffee or other liquid refreshment on the plane, when we are get airborne and the beverage/food carts come around, we have to pay extra for breakfast items or other food items that used to be free. Once again, add it to the cost of the flight so we don’t have to rummage for dollars or change to pay for it. It cheapens the whole experience. Hopefully, at some point, airlines will learn how to take care of these things. Until that time, they had better get used to bad word of mouth from fliers and bad public relations. Businesses: TAKE CARE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS. When it comes to cruises, my wife, Kristen, has been on a few and she has told me some of her war stories. After hearing some of these, I have no desire to take a cruise. And don’t plan to. Frankly, I don’t want to be packed like a sardine with 1,000 other people for a number of days. I have heard all of the war stories about illnesses that people contract while on board, especially the foodborne variety. So, I will never take a cruise anywhere. But, as with the airlines, add the fees or charges to the price of the cruise so that people are not having to find money to pay for every little item. It is annoying. Enjoy the Madness.” – Joe