I am BARRY HESS > Blog

Stupid Fees

A quick post about stupid fees. Typically this type of post would be in reference to Ticketmaster. This time it is about Minnesota Driver & Vehicle Services.

I’ve been renewing my tabs online for the last several years. I figured this was a great deal for both sides of the equation. Convenient for me, and cheaper for the state of Minnesota. After all, I’m doing their data entry work for them. Really, all they need to do is have an automated system print my name and address on an envelope and shove the appropriate month’s stickers into the envelope. The picture of automation.

However, a new fee has greeted me with my most recent renewal. It now costs an extra $1.25 for me to submit my credit card information online. Yes, this means that if I send my renewal request by writing my credit card number on a form and mailing it to the DVS it actually costs me less. It costs me less to require a human being to type in my credit card information. This is a minimum that assumes other information is entered automatically by the human typing my VIN or some other such ID number into their system. This also assumes that from there the automated system can take over in printing and stuffing my envelope.

And it’s bull. The fee is “to offset the cost of electronic payment processing.” There are two options here. Either a) the system the DVS has developed or purchased does not pay for itself in efficiency, in which case they never should have built/bought the system or b) the “electronic payment processing” fee is actually just a convenience fee (where have we heard that before?). I believe the answer is (b), which basically means I’m being lied to. It certainly costs no more to submit an electronic credit card payment whether it is submitted by a system overnight or by a human at a computer. And, of course, batch credit card payments have the potential to be cheaper.

(I threw this post out quickly - I anticipate a lot of “yeah, but” responses.)