Houston, We Have A Convenience Spending Problem

Paying for the convenience of purchasing an item, I would bet, is costing you big bucks. Amazon has become synonymous for purchasing goods at a convenience. Their one click patent, gave their customers the availability to buy an item and have it shipped to them with only one click. Though Amazon was not the first, they were definitely one of best to pioneer convenience buying. The financial world has a term for how hard it is to get money out of consumers pockets, it’s referred to as friction. Minimizing barriers (friction) to purchasing goods has become a primary concern for most businesses.

There are many services that are working to make your life more convenient, and by extension, possibly more expensive. These services range from video conferencing (telemedicine) doctors to patients, all the way to having someone be able to pick up almost anything you want. The fees associated with using these services make buying daily coffee at Starbucks seem cheap. In a time where electronics are meant to make our lives more convenient, they have also made daily activities much more expensive than ever.


The Tale Of The $50 Pizza

Here in Austin there are numerous services that will deliver whatever you want, whenever you want. The most popular is Favor. Download the application, tell your delivery person what you want, and it will be at your doorsteps within the hour. Many of my friends use this service. If you’re a visitor to downtown Austin, you will almost without a doubt see their employees biking the streets and doing odd jobs for people. You can easily identify them by their t-shirts seen below,

favor company


The cost for this convenience is huge. Favor has a mandatory $6 service charge, $2 tip minimum, and add-on another 5-9% for fees depending on the total costs of your order. Despite this, the service is wildly popular and growing at an astonishing rate.  Many other services such as Uber, and grocery stores have developed their own system to help those who are willing to pay for the added convenience. Going to the local grocery store, I notice the Favor, Uber Eats, and Instacart every time I’m at the grocery store to meet the consumers demand.


My friend uses this service regularly. There is a popular pizza place near downtown that does not deliver. When some visitors came from out of town, he decided to use the service to have a pizza delivered from this restaurant. According to their website, a large pizza is about $28. The delivery fee was at minimum $6, plus a minimum $2 tip and 9% fee for booking a pizza during a peak time. Suddenly, the pizza was now $39. There was also a fee for transporting the pizza a few miles to his house. After an additional tip, the total came out to just under $50 for one large pizza. If you think this is crazy, well so do I. However, these delivery people are everywhere meeting a need that thousands of people have downloaded the application for.


Help With Licensing For A Fee

Doctors seem to be a perfect target for businesses who are looking to market services that offer a convenience. The number of services that target doctors continues to steadily increase. The favorite advertisers towards doctors seem to still be wealth management groups. The number of unsolicited flyers that I get from these groups, remind me of all the AOL discs that would pile up in my junk mail pile. I’m not trying to discount these groups. However, their methods of advertisement have become outdated.


aol junk mail


Classical services that offer an added convenience to doctors

  • Answering service
  • Nurses, staff to refill prescriptions
  • Services that assist will billing
  • Organizations and committees
  • Wealth Management


Newer Trends To Increase Convenience for Health Care Providers

  • Assist with credentialing or licensing
  • Online Branding via Facebook or Instagram
  • Website creation and website upkeep
  • “Pay to play” websites to search local physicians. Don’t pay the fee and suffer a lower search rank
  • Application development, upkeep, access, or implementation. Bill from your mobile phone…for a convenient extra fee
  • TeleMedicine
  • Robo – advisor
  • Online CME (For a fee)
  • With the advent of smart phones, everyone is expected to answer emails and texts quicker than ever before
  • Online training, HIPPA, workplace safety, etc.
  • Services geared towards passing or performing well on examinations
  • Online Dating (Not all doctors are married and many now meet their better half online)


There are numerous services that will be happy to provide a service for you, for a fee. There are numerous services that will help with hospital credentialing or state licensing for a fee. Many of these companies charge anywhere between $400 to $1,000 to submit the paperwork on your behalf for state licensing or hospital credentialing. I decided to do everything myself, and found it quite easy to navigate the process on my first time by keeping an organized folder.

These groups can be helpful for physicians who move frequently or find themselves spread too thin to keep paperwork constantly updated. However, it will definitely come at a cost (potentially higher than the license itself).


The Recurring Costs Of Convenience

As much as I love Amazon, I have to say that I’ve noticed a change. Their prices  offered are often no longer the cheapest. Instead, I will search on Walmart for the same product and often times find it cheaper. Not only is it cheaper, but there is often same day pick up from their store. At worst, they will ship the item to the store for free and pickup within 2 days. With this type of competition, I will admit that the consumer wins.

In our search to simplify our lives, we have increased our expenses more than ever. The electronic watch that costs hundreds of dollars reminds us to take more steps and be more active. Even our appliances have computers in them that can notify us when certain food stock is running low.

In many ways, the electronic age has made our lives much easier. The cost of the convenience has often come in increased fees or recurring monthly subscription based services. Once a year, I take a step back and get quotes for insurance to see if I can get a better deal. I think the time has come where we all take a step back and see if what recurring expenses have truly made our life more convenient or more expensive.



4 thoughts on “Houston, We Have A Convenience Spending Problem

  • October 4, 2017 at 10:59 AM

    That’s some expensive pizza. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of some convenience spending, but mainly eating out instead of cooking meals. I’ve never used those delivery services or apps, but I’m sure those fees can add up over time.

  • October 5, 2017 at 1:45 PM

    I can’t say I know anyone who has $50 for pizza delivery unless the pizza delivery guy was also delivering weed. That, I could see.

    I’m sure that pizza is better than Little Caesars, but we mainly get pizza for our boys and their friends. I can get a $10 gift certificate for $6, which buys 2 large pizzas at the takeout window, conveniently located between school and home. That’s $3 for a large pizza, or 16 large pizzas for $48.


    • October 5, 2017 at 3:45 PM

      The initial price of the pizza was less than $30 but with fees from the on demand delivery service it brought the total to around $50. The only time I really eat pizzas seem to be when I’m at a brewery if a group of friends and I want to share some food. Little Caesars definitely has some good prices for their pizza!

  • October 5, 2017 at 10:54 PM

    We get expensive pizza’s sometimes but it drives me insane. Instead my wife often makes the pizza at home. We can hide all the veggies so our son eats them.

    As for convenience, I can’t complaint. My sister in law started a on demand type service and has done pretty well for herself, though we have never actually used the service. So I have to support the idea because it has supported her family! Talk about conflict of interest.

    Anyway, ever since Walmart bough Jet and is making a strong attempt to fight Amazon, they have been cheaper. It has been quite great. It’s nice to see some competition out there.


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