Okay, I’m floored. This morning I read an article about some recent Airport Authority business. The article included a bulleted list of agenda items covered at the last meeting–pretty benign stuff until I read this:

A change in the airport’s rates and charges regulations would benefit the airport’s four auto leasing dealerships. A customer appreciation charge of $1.50 per day will be added to rental contracts, with the monies going to make facility improvements to the auto rental business area[.] (Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette)

The business theory is simple enough to understand: make users pony up a smidge of extra cash on each transaction, and use that money to keep the place looking nice–hopefully even improve it some. It works like a toll road, where only the users are assessed the maintenance fee. Fair enough.

My problem comes with the wording of this surcharge motion. Customer appreciation charge–really? This seems like an oxymoron to me; I certainly hope that term doesn’t appear on my next itemized rental receipt. Okay, so maybe the Airport Authority is referring to its appreciation of its rental company customers, but the logic of charging your customers’ customers in order to demonstrate so-called appreciation fails me. For some reason, the words DO matter to me in this case. A lot.

I understand surcharges, and I understand for the occasional need to creatively finance projects. The Airport Authority has every right to do this; I’m not disputing that. Call it a facility surcharge, a rental lot assessment, or even a rainy day fund, just don’t call it a customer appreciation charge. It doesn’t make me feel very appreciated.