ISK transaction services charges

As a capsuleer, I tend to make a lot of ISK compared to the average citizens of the four empires. Sure, it’s well deserved, and this rant is really more about principle than anything else…

So there I was, about a year go now, shopping for hours in Rens during a little downtime, when my stomach reminded me of how very hungry I was. I stopped at a local food court, and got myself some nice ethnic food (it was Caldari, haha). I hadn’t eaten all day and was ravenous. The food looked incredibly delicious, and as I made my way down the service line, they were topping it with all kinds of goodness. Then it was time to pay.

Like I said, I make a lot of ISK, so I generally don’t carry it loose on my person. I prefer to use my iskCard. In fact, I don’t leave home without it. The bill was 5.38 isk. Nothing substantial for the fine looking food I was about to enjoy.

I let them swipe my card, ready to enter my secured PIN to pay for my order. The little display showed my total. I hit OK. Then it showed “Service charge 0.25 ISK”. WTF? I asked what this meant. “Oh, the company that owns that machine charges us every month for its use. That is their fee, not ours.” 

Hmmm, that seemed odd to me then. I mean sure, you have to pay for equipment you are renting, but I am confident a single transaction doesn’t cost 0.25 ISK. That means in addition to blatantly passing this cost through to your customers, you’re also raping them in the process. Basically, it’s a big sign to me that says “I don’t believe enough in my business to cover my own operating expenses.” And in all honesty, if you don’t believe, then why should I?

Screw that. I cancelled my order.

As I began to walk away, the manager chased after me, screaming at the top of his lungs “We made food to you! You must pay now!” I stopped and turned towards him. “I cancelled the order.” I said politely.

He was fuming. “You no cancel after. Food already made. You pay now.” (Now I know my Caldari accent might sound a little strange in my recollection, but to me, they’re all the same anyway). I raised one eyebrow towards him, ready to enter into a debate over morality, business ethics and the like, but decided all I really wanted was to just eat some food. “No” was all I said, throwing him a look that dared him to pursue the matter.

He faltered for a moment, a puzzled expression on his face. He looked around for support from who knows where. His shoulders noticeably sagged. “I thought as much” I said, as I turned to walk away.

“You no come back. You no welcome here anymore!” he yelled after me as I increased the distance between us with each stride.

Like I really wanted to go back, but good for him feeling so empowered.

I found another place in the food court, ordered some food and paid for it without any service charge. I politely thanked them, a large smile on my face, and enjoyed some decent food.

Over the last year, this service charge has gotten out of hand. More and more places seem to be doing it, and the charge keeps going up. 0.25 ISK, 0.50 ISK, some even 0.75 ISK!

I did some digging into the companies that issue the rental of these units:

FACT: They do indeed charge a monthly fee for the rental of these machines. I tried to rent one, making up some bogus info just to find out pricing. The cost range was between 50 ISK to 150 ISK per month.

FACT: Given the cost to rent one of these machines, and let’s say an average of only 1000 customers per month (most retail businesses average 300 -700 transactions per day, or an average of 15000 transactions per month), and a service charge of 0.50 isk per transaction, that’s 500 ISK per month. Even at the most extreme rental cost, that’s an extra 350 ISK per month I’d be pocketing as a business owner charging for the use of this machine. I would like to think all my numbers here are very modest, and that actual totals are much higher.

FACT: If you make an average of 100 transactions per month, that’s an average of 50 ISK extra you are paying per month simply for the “privilege” of being able to shop at a given business.

FACT: The reason these businesses think they can get away with this is simply because we, as consumers, allow it. If we simply stop paying it, flat our refusal, then these businesses will have to change the way they conduct business.

Something to think about? I hope you will.