All week I have been beset by those nasty little extras that add up. On Norwegian Airlines everything is extra, water, food , headsets , blankets – the duty free is more expensive than Tescos. It costs $50 to put a bag in the hold!
If you want to stay at the Hilton Midtown New York, watch out for $18 a day wi-fi and a $3.5 charge for storing a bag for a morning. I was particularly stung as I’d done nothing in advance, I’d hopelessly assumed that my kind hosts were taking care of things- but heh – you’re on you’re own buddy.
Take a taxi and you think you’ve got a price- you’ve forgotten about the toll and the tip and then there’s tax! Everything is priced ex local taxes so you never have the right change.
The locals say taxis are cheap but I don’t see any poor people in them. Poor people ride the subway – try the E to Jamaica and you’re paying $3 to the airport, but then it’s back to standard pricing, $5 for one stop to your terminal and you have to buy a card as well for the priviledge.
So the price stacks up, and that fistful of dollars quickly runs out. Makes you realise that we price pretty fairly in our lovely land. VAT included, no-tip necessary, that water in your room is complimentary, tea and coffee -help yourself.
I won’t bang on about financial services but I’ll relate a great conversation I had yesterday afternoon with a trustee of a Canadian municipal trustee. I asked him how they tested they were getting value for money when they didn’t know what they were paying for services.
The answer was that they sent their service managers a simple letter asking them how they made their money. They expected a pie chart back with a breakdown of where the money came from. They knew the answers – they had done their research, they were testing the honesty of the managers.
I think in the final analysis- I want to know what it takes to fly with Norwegian, stay at the Hilton or ride in that taxi, I don’t want a fake price , I want the cost of the service.
When I ask a fund manager how much I am paying, I do not want to know that he didn’t mention x y and z because (like the tolls taxis pay) the manager was simply passing these costs on.
I’m trying to run a budget- make sure the greenbacks last.
People are a bit mystified by why I keep asking these questions – especially as there are any numbers of way that I can pass these costs on. It is -as I was told yesterday – someone else’s problem.
Accountability for your own behaviour doesn’t happen so log as there is someone to pass the tab on to
When the nice lady from Standard Life started telling me how important it was that I exercised my voting rights – especially on matters such as excessive boardroom pay, I asked whether the £11m bonus paid to Standard Life Execs Skeogh and Nish was a case in point- especially as the calculation had excluded the $250m profit fall from Standard Life Canada.
The reply was that Standard Life Investments don’t invest in Standard Life Plc and therefore she had no knowledge of what I was talking about. Infact I should be impressed that there was such a clear Chinese wall in place.
I was left wondering just who was going to pick up this £11m tab. I guess that price wasn’t included either