Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Cost of Convenience

Convenience is a great thing. Sometimes its worth paying for, sometimes its not ---- we all have to make the choices as to whether or not the convenience is worth it.

My water/sewer bill for instance --- its very convenient to log on and pay the bill. However, the $2.50 charge for doing so is not worth it when I can write out a check, pop it in the envelope and attach a .44 cent stamp in about the same time. Spending $2.06 additional for about the same effort is not worth the "convenience". All of my regular bills I pay online, except this one. It is just not worth the cost.

The tag renewal for Princess Penelope's car is due. The fees and taxes must be paid in the county where I live. Problem is, due to corruption, greed, clueless officials and an illegal "occupational tax" funding the County for years, the county where I live is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. One of the "fallout" issues from this is that quite a few county offices have been closed and the only choice now is to go downtown and wait in a 5-6 hour line to renew the tag (and take the time off of work to do so).

There is also a mail in option and an online option. The mail in option costs an additonal $2.50, but that means having to rely on the USPS to get my money there, an overworked highly stressed county worker to process it timely and again for the USPS to get it mailed back to me. Too many variables on this one.

So, I chose the online option. I filled out the information, reading it carefully, and then I go to the "submit" page --- and there it is... a $5.95 "convenience fee". Lovely. I thought about cancelling the transaction, but then considered those 5-6 hour lines. I also considered the mail in again, but realized if the renewal doesn't get to me in time, I'd have no proof that I actually renewed the tag. So, I hit "submit" and then printed out the confirmation page. I attached it to the renewal card, made a copy of both, and put it in the glove compartment of Princess's car.

I figure that this way, if the renewal doesn't get here before the old tag expires, and she consequently gets pulled over for having an expired tag, she's got the proof that it has been renewed and paid for right there with her, and it becomes apparent that we are just waiting for it to arrive (traffic tickets for expired tags cost about $170).

In this case the $5.95 "convenience" fee was worth it. I didn't have to stand in line for hours, I've got proof that its been paid, and I didn't have to deal with overworked and over stressed employees at the county courthouse. Completely and awesomely worth it! Even if the $5.95 did make me go "yikes" for a second!


  1. I don't like those online convenience fees either. My natural gas company had an online pay option, but to use it you were rerouted to another site, which charged a fee. Like you, I chose to write a check and was able to drop it off in the utility payment box, so no need of a stamp. We don't have to pay a fee to renew our car registration online, yet.

  2. Our drop box for the water is nowhere close to me --- and its kind of in a sketchy area. So, the stamp makes sense in this case.