The Cost of Convenience

I received a letter in the mail this morning that got me to think about the cost of convenience. The letter was a “Notice of Toll Violation” from the Illinois Tollway. Living in Wisconsin, I do not keep toll money in my truck. We do not have a tollway. If a trip to O’hare was a normal thing, I would probably get an I-Pass and never have to worry about a toll. What really bothered me about the ticket was, I paid my tolls online, the day after my trip. I had seen the signs with the web address and the idea of paying online sounded like a good idea. Now, I would have to waste time disputing the ticket.

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Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Although my customer service experience was very pleasant (much better than I hoped for), I had to call 1-800-UC-IPASS twice. The first time I got cut off mid-sentence as I was describing my issue to the operator. This didn’t raise my expectations for a good service experience. The second time the guy was great. He looked at my notice and my payment and explained why my payment hadn’t been applied to the account. He saw that I had actually overpaid on a couple of the tolls. I was more than willing to give the state the $2 to be through with the process.

Then he hit me with the cost of convenience. One toll recorded my Ford F150 as a triple axel vehicle. This meant that I had underpaid the last toll leaving Illinois. In order to get this violation removed, I would have to request a hearing and appear in person or mail in my dispute.icons8-team-r-enAOPw8Rs-unsplash

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

I didn’t yell at him; the violation was only a $23.00 ticket. $23.00 is enough to be annoying and cause frustration, but it is not enough to get that upset. It isn’t enough to justify driving over an hour to appeal in person either. I thought about mailing in my dispute, but I didn’t feel comfortable trusting that a letter would resolve the issue. So I paid a $23.00 convenience fee to the Illinois Tollway.

Would you have paid it? We pay for convenience all the time. Last night my wife and I didn’t feel like cooking so we ordered a pizza. Can you make a good cup of coffee at home? Coffee shops have built an industry out of providing excellent, convenient cups of morning goodness. I am not against paying for convenience. Our lives are busy, and the ease of living is a benefit to living in one of the richest cultures in history. I’m just saying that there is a cost to this lifestyle. If I didn’t have the $23.00, I would have gotten over my concerns and put my dispute in the mail.

I do have a challenge for you. Before you drop that cash, ask yourself:

  • Is this service and convenience going to create enough benefit for my life?
  • Was it worth working that side job last night so you could buy pizza tonight?
  • What’s the alternative? It may not be as convenient.

If it was worth it, that’s great. You know yourself. You know what you want. You know what you need. Most importantly you know what you are willing to give to get.

If you are not sure if the service was worth the expense, evaluate your spending.

  • Look at what it will take to make you happy.
  • Define your needs.
  • Are your habits are keeping you from reaching your best life?

At the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up for yesterday, paying for convenience is not wrong. It just costs money and effort. Just recognize that continuing to pay for convenience tomorrow may cost you the happiness that is in your reach.

Remember, its your life. The ROI on life is happiness. How can you improve on your return?

Live Blessed,

Scott Nielsen

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