In one of my previous blogs I had mentioned about getting a traffic ticket in Jersey Turnpike. Yesterday I finally found out the damage via a phone call to the court, and as the officer had claimed, it was $54. Okay, that's not too bad as tickets go these days, even though I still think it was a lame charge.
Being the curious guy that I am, I surfed to the court's web site to see if I can find a record of my ticket. Sure enough, the ticket and all relevant data were there for me and the dollar amount was the same as I was told over the phone. What next? Pay the ticket, of course.
A nice large button invited me to pay the ticket online. at least they are making it a more convenient to pay the fine, I thought to myself. That's when the near bait and switch happened. On the next page the amount suddenly gained an extra $2. I felt like a contestant in let's make a deal. On closer inspection I noticed a "convenience fee" line item for the amount of, yes, $2.
Convenience fee? Whose convenience? Isn't this more to their advantage by collecting the fines in a more timely manner, have accurate records of payments, and save on clerks. Then it occurred to me that this isn't a new scam. A couple of years ago, trying to pay a parking ticket online, I had noticed the same fee being tacked on.
Whoever came up with this brilliant scam must be pretty proud of themselves. Soon online retailers will catch on and begin charging convenience fees on shopping carts. Express checkouts at grocery stores, gas pumps that accept credit cards, and Chinese take-outs would soon follow. You'll get an extra bill from your phone company if you use a speaker phone, and remote controls would come with hefty convenience fees.