So what’s the deal with these convenience fees?
You all know that feeling – you book tickets, for a flight or for a movie, and the prices look good and you’re ready to pay – then all the fees, surcharges and other miscellaneous things show up until the price goes up . Some of them, such as airport equipment charges and development charges, exist because they are imposed by airports. Others – usually convenience fees – represent the fees you pay to make the reservation online.
Yes, because by reducing the crowd at the airline counter, and allowing it to manage a large number of users without needing to have an equally large contingent of ground staff, it is a convenience – for you ?! Of course, this simplifies things a bit, and these fees are part of why we have the number of online booking services we offer – which really make life more convenient. Part of the problem, however, is that there is little standardization or predictability regarding these fees.
Convenience fees are generally flat fees, although in some cases they may be a percentage of the amount you pay. With Cleartrip, for example, you pay a non-refundable Rs. 225 per airfare you buy, while MakeMyTrip doesn’t show the breakdown, so any extras you pay are just lumped together under the surcharges header. The airlines themselves also charge convenience fees, which further complicates matters. There are reports that this might change, to promote electronic payments, but nothing has changed on the ground so far.
With movie tickets, there’s a lot more variation, from venue to venue and platform to platform. So, for example, on BookMyShow, on some tickets the charge was Rs. 28.76, and on others the charge was Rs. 34.5. With Paytm, ironically enough, a ticket to a venue in Noida – the cheapest of the lot – had the highest fees. The ticket was Rs. 130, but the fee was Rs. 34.5. In contrast, a ticket to Delhi was priced at Rs. 250, while the fee was Rs. 17.24. At Ticket4u, a ticket to Dangal on a screen in Bengaluru’s HSR setup cost Rs. 120, and the fee – labeled here as a service charge – was Rs. 18.
In the case of the PVR – no intermediary who has to earn revenue here – the ticket itself costs Rs. 290 and a fee of Rs. 25 has been added, along with taxes of Rs. 3.75.
What is interesting here is the example of Ticket4u and the recent ruling on restaurant service charges. According to the government, payment of service charges in restaurants is not compulsory. If the customer is not satisfied with the service, he can choose not to pay this fee.
In this context, does this mean that if you use Tickets4u to book tickets for Assassin’s Creed, you can ask for a refund, since no one is likely to be satisfied after seeing the film?
Gadgets 360 has reached out to MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip, Paytm, and BookMyShow to try to learn more about the reasons for convenience fees and how the value of these fees is decided, but so far the companies have not clarified things. This may be a topic that no one really wants to talk about.
That doesn’t help consumers, who can’t help but view these charges as unnecessary overhead. The massive infrastructure that goes into powering a ticket you buy isn’t examined, nor is the convenience of being able to book a ticket at home and then check in, pay for excess baggage in advance, and print your boarding pass before you even leave home. . Instead, we tend to calculate the savings airlines make by not issuing physical tickets and wonder why that can’t be passed on to us.
The fact that online bookings allow us to obtain flights at advantageous rates which would have been unthinkable a few years ago is also not taken into consideration. Or, on a lower level, the fact that you can watch every seat in every movie theater in your city, before deciding exactly where you’re going to be let down by the next blockbuster movie you watch. When you weigh the scale, paying another Rs. 20 for it doesn’t really seem like too much to ask.
The question is how we can make the process a little more transparent and straightforward, instead of loading all the fees in the back to prevent people from noticing what they are actually paying. It does not work, it is frankly boring and it is very difficult to plan anything – from a trip to a party.