Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Horror Of User Fees!

OMG! There's an office where you have to pay to use the fridge and microwave? Summon the militia! Fetch the People's Guard! Such creeping exploitation must be stamped out!

Yep, there is such an office. It's the state Medicaid office, where the downtrodden government employees must shell out $7.00 a year to use the breakroom appliances. Seven. Dollars. A. Year!

How can they bear up under the burden?

Why is easily answered: as a matter of policy, our state.gov doesn't supply refrigerators or microwaves to any of their offices unless it's staffed 24 hours a day. Offices working the more usual government hours can have appliances donated...but they are not owed 'em. So, one office collects dues? So what. If it cuts down on the orphaned half-bottles of milk and well-aged sandwiches, it may be a boon.

But breakroom appliances are certainly not a right.

Class, in these days of a lousy economy, what group is not feeling so much of a pinch? What (non-productive) sector of the economy keeps growing and growing? Hint: it's not manufacturing. It's not service industries. And you pay 'em under threat.

Seven bucks to rent fridge and 'wave space? Gee, it sure beats not havin' a job and having to hang out in the other place where you have to pay for the kitchen appliances and pay to keep 'em running: home. Or hanging out there 'til the bank forecloses on it, anyway. I wonder what the user fees are like for space at a trash-can fire under a bridge?


Carteach said...

At school, several instructors kept coffee pots. A couple had minifridges. A couple more added microwaves to the pot.

Given that instructors could not leave their programs all day, it seemed a small accommodation.

Reportedly as part of 'cutting energy costs', all such devices were ordered removed AT VONCE this past school year.

Everyplace but the administrative offices, of course, where there were no less than six coffee makers, an entire mini-kitchen, a restaurant sized coffee station and microwave, and a special 'Ties only' bathroom that featured toilet paper costing four times that in the rest of the school.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I always phrase things like this in terms of a Sunday paper or that latte you buy every day at Starbucks. Seven bucks might feed your latte habit for one day, or buy your Sunday paper for a month. And they're only asking for about 2 cents a day for the fridge privilege.

What kills me is that people will shell out $2000+ for a fancy French-door refrigerator without even thinking about it, but rebel at paying $7 once a year for a little space to keep their lunch cold at work. As Slim Pickens once memorably put it, "I am depressed."

Tam said...

If that yearly fee equals 30 minutes of the lowest-paid employee's time, I'll eat my hat.

Jim said...


Things a little slow lately for the Crack Investigative Reporting Squad of the WTHR newsroom?

karrde said...


And I thought the office coffee-machine (with a strongly-suggested $1 a week donnation for use) was a good going rate.

Hey, I work in the private industry. We don't expect too many freebies from the company.

Matt said...

My only thought wasn't really about the "justice" question that seems to have triggered the post, but about the relative costs of providing "free" appliances vs setting up and running the insane amount of bureaucratic infrastructure that's probably involved in charging the employees to use them.

You know...the publishing of the rule change and public comment period, the establishment of a permanent blue-ribbon panel to manage liaison operations between the payroll group and the facilities management group, the HR ombudsman to listen to arguments about whether paying $7/yr for use of the fridge does or does not convert the usurpation of a cow-orker's bag lunch into a prosecutable crime, the time wasted the first time some guy who didn't pay decides to use the fridge anyway and there has to be a fight over whether to charge him for the year or prorate it...anybody who's worked for an employer -- public or private -- with more than about 50 employees can probably fill in the blanks here.

How much you want to bet that $7/yr costs a LOT more than $7/yr to implement and enforce?

og said...

It's OK. They just added that fee so they can tack it on to the taxpayers bill as a lagniappe for the next contract. In twenty years, the job of the Microwave attendant will become vital, and cutting it will be akin to cutting a member of the fire department!

Bubblehead Les. said...

Whatever happened to the Brown Bag and a Thermos?

Bubblehead Les. said...
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Kristopher said...

I took the toll express freeway around Denver to get home from ABQ ... I did not want to deal with Denver rush hour traffic.

I will eventually get a bill for $3 from them in the mail, and will gladly send them a check.