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How Cheap Gets Expensive

We’ve all seen it. Many of us have even experienced the phenomenon first hand. After agreeing to one cost or price, we have been surprised by a higher cost at a later point in time, or even spiraling charges that are difficult to track or account for.

Many industries have developed strategies aimed at “fronting” a price to a customer while backing in various incremental add-ons or up-charges that go unnoticed, especially to the person who signs the contract.

Eventually, however, the bill must be paid and at that point explanations are due. How and why these fees occur can often be a source of misunderstanding and mistrust between a service organization and its customer.

These fees are prevalent in the world of textile rentals. Here are a few areas that you should look out for to make sure you are not being overcharged:

Garment prep. Common sense dictates that there is always an expense inherent in an initial install or onboarding a new customer. Instead of being up-front about this expense of doing business, some suppliers waive the initial install for the first 30 days, allowing an artificially low up front cost. Typically, what happens is the costs are merely deferred and show up later in garment prep charges. These are harder to track and can change arbitrarily.

Fuel charges. This is another area of opaqueness. Again, common sense reveals that there is no such thing as a “national” energy price and yet some national suppliers act as though there is.

Instead, look for a company that uses market-based energy costs. In other words, the cost you are charged should be based on the price of energy only in your specific market area. In addition, the market-based energy cost is based on the energy actually used. Furthermore, it matters not if yours is a $100 stop or a $500 stop because the base energy cost is the same.

Emblem charges. Again, hidden charges for emblems and logos are another area for lack of transparency. Often, these charges can be variable and arbitrary and in some cases are included in the garment preparation charges previously cited. There is nothing mystifying about adding a logo to a uniform. It should be standard operating procedure to quote a modest charge up front for corporate identification and a somewhat smaller charge for personal identification.

Missing or damaged items. Work forces are invariably in a state of flux and exiting employees don’t always return their rented uniforms, which are still the property of the textile leasing company. But how do you protect yourself from a random up-charge for unreturned items? Most transparent companies will avoid this situation by the inclusion of a modest asset management charge. This cost is rationalized based on standard wear patterns. In other words, it has a basis in reality and does not come as an unpleasant surprise.

Restocking fees. Work forces and even individuals change over time and so does their apparel. To accommodate size changes or new orders, some national suppliers have been known to charge substantial restocking fees. These can sometimes reflect an annual increase in expenditures of up to 10%! Look for a textile rental company with a restocking cost of 3% or lower.

As you can see, transparency makes for better policy. Make sure your textile rental company adheres to these suggested standards.

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