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Gabe Bokor photoHave you noticed how different businesses are constantly inventing new ways to nickel and dime their customers? Airlines have first stopped offering free in-flight meals; then introduced a fee for checked-in luggage; they reduced the leg space of their seats and are now charging for "special" (exit row and bulkhead) seats that leave you less cramped at the end of a two-hour flight. At the same time, they tacked a host of fees to their ticket prices, so that now the amount of these fees (and government taxes) exceeds the nominal price of the ticket itself.

Other businesses are not bashful either in inventing sneaky ways to separate you from your money. A carton of orange juice, which used to contain half a gallon (64 oz) of juice now contains only 59 oz. A can of coffee, which at one time contained a pound (16 oz) now contains 12, 11, or 10.5 oz. And don’t expect the price to go down for these shrinking quantities of products.

Gas stations are now adding a separate fee, in addition to their already sky-high prices, for credit card payments.

Some physicians are charging thousands of dollars in yearly fees just to keep you as a patient (no specific service included). The list may go on and on. Many of these and other businesses count on their customers being stupid or at least not paying attention to what they are being charged for and how much they are getting. Of course, they’re also trying to compensate for their own rising costs (in part due to similar tactics by other businesses) and shrinking revenues due to the recession.

So, why don’t we, translators, get imaginative and enhance our incomes by adding a few items to our rates? I envision my future bill to my clients to look something like this:

Availability fee
Keyboarding fee
Administrative fee
Billing fee
Software usage fee
Hardware usage fee
e-mailing fee
Alertness fee*
Innovation fee **
Bundling fee***
Total payable

* That’s for the espresso to keep me awake while I’m translating.

** That’s for inventing all these possible and impossible fees.

*** Let them figure out what this means (you can use any random word from the dictionary here).

Feel free to add your own bright ideas to this list.

Published - June 2012

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