An Inconvenient Convenience Posted on January 2, 2012 How much would you pay for the convenience of using your

debit card? Paying your phone bill on-line or by phone? Extending your subscription to your daily newsp aper or reading it on-line? Well, somewhere in the executive office suites of Bank of America, Verizon and t he San Francisco Chronicle, someone is starting 2012 with the kind of hangover t hat comes from something more potent than too much champagne. In each case, some hot shots who ran the numbers through an accounting process, didn’t bother to run the idea of “convenience fees” through a common-sense thought-process. You remember the Bank of America boo-boo: the five dollar “convenience fee” for all BofA custome rs using their debit cards, which handed the Occupy Wall Street movement a notab le and tangible political and financial victory over one of America’s biggest bank s. Tone deaf to the tempers that torched Bank of America’s five dollar flub, the visi onaries at Verizon figured that if they cut the fee, say in half, their customer s wouldn’t mind paying such a pittance for the privilege of paying their own bills on-line, or via the telephone. Verizon’s inconvenient “convenience fee” dropped as fa st as a ball weighted-down by 10,000 lights on New Year’s Eve, a product of thinki ng only about the numbers, but numb to actually “thinking” about the consequences of their actions. Quietly, and under cover of email, comes the Chronicle, a once-respected, financ ially struggling daily newspaper relentless in its coverage of gas explosions ca used by a gas & electric company that still can’t find records of gas pipes it pur chased, and quick to cover consumer explosions over greedy grabs by giants in th e banking and telecommunications fields. The Chronicle would have no part of nic keling and dime-ing consumers to death. No sirreee. When it made its move, it wo uld be well thought out and so staggering that it could never be mistaken for a “c onvenience fee.” A “kill fee” would be a more fitting term for the Chronicle’s holiday g ift to consumers; only, it’s not clear whether the Chronicle is trying to kill its entire customer base, or just the print version of the newspaper. Starting this week, the SF Chronicle is notifying long-time seven-day per week s ubscribers, that our rates are increasing five-fold, from $99 per year, up to ov er $500. Unlike Bank of America the Chronicle never received federal bail-out mo ney, nor has it made a handsome profit anytime during the past decade. With the incessant increase in the cost of producing a physical newspaper, and the steady run of readers to its online version, SFgate.com, a small increase in home deli very rates for the newsprint paper itself was expected. The Chronicle’s version of its small increase or “convenience fee” for 7-day home delivery amounts to about $1 .50 per day or $10 per week–making Bank of America and Verizon’s marketing gurus loo k like pikers. But, the Chronicle’s Three-Card Monty game doesn’t stop there. Keep your eye on thei r other hand. While quintupling the cost of the printed version for home-deliver y of the paper, SF Chronicle readers can still get their thin-diet of local news for the old rate of $99, by paying a user-fee for the Chronicle’s on-line service which had previously been free. Charging for on-line news services is nothing n ew, and its something which many savvy publications, including the Wall Street J ournal and the New York Times, have been doing for a while. The Chronicle, a lag gard in embracing the logic of charging consumers for accessing content on-line when SFgate.com surfaced years ago, is trying to make up for lost time with reve nue that it ignored at its own peril. Now, in an era that has consumers clawing apart “convenience fees” out of sheer anger at the arrogance of the companies creati ng them, the Chronicle has chosen to charge a “convenience fee” so large–$500–that reade rs who want to continue to get information about their community at the same cos t–can still do so, but only on-line. No serious manager at the Chronicle can expec

t subscribers to suffer a five-fold increase, for a product that is a pathetic p retender to a print newspaper each passing day. The biggest inconvenience, as always, will be endured by the elderly on a shrink ing income. Lacking the resources or the computer comfort to read about their co mmunity and local government actions in print or on-line, SF citizens without me ans will be left to choose between reading the freebie handouts of the advertisi ng flyer known as the SF Examiner, or the handwriting on the wall of each major institution. This entry was posted in Latest News by Steve. Bookmark the permalink. Edit Leave a Reply Logged in as Steve. Log out? Comment Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

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