The flyer was left open on the table; the Cinnibuns looked good, only $3.00 for six, most tempting. But I had other immediate business: Flights to Montreal to be there for our grandchild’s birth. But while I’m searching fares, why not check flights to England from there; we’re already half way to England from Alberta.
Was my computer kidding me? Return flights to dear old Blighty for $279.00 round trip? Never seen prices like that for the forty six years we had been in Canada. I dutifully filled in dates for two adults—$558.00 for two. Celebrate later with those Cinnibuns! The webpage crunched the numbers.
In large gay red numbers it announced the result: A total of $1,697.24! I searched the page. Yes, there in small blue print it noted “taxes.” I clicked on it. A separate page opened and detailed the following list per person.
Security charge 25.91
Quebec sales tax 2.23
Airport Improvement fee 25.00
Air passenger duty, UK 98.60
Passenger service charge, UK 56.63
Fuel surcharge 344.00
Insurance and security 16.00
Total taxes for two persons added up to $1,139.24—twice the advertised fare. “Not fair,” I muttered. Now, the celebration with the Cinnibuns would shift to consolation—a coping mechanism. Ann had the car. I’d need a taxi into town to pick up those buns. I called Trusty Taxi, reputedly the cheapest in town.
“Wait for me,” I asked the driver, I’ll only be a minute.” The stack of brightly coloured boxes advertising their contents were stacked in prominent display. A steal at fifty cents each. I pulled out a $5.00 bill to pay for them.
“That’ll be $17.67,” the teller said in his friendliest manner.
“Pardon me?” I asked.
“$17.67,” he responded gaily.
“But they’re advertised at $3.00,” I countered.
“Of course, but there is a $2.00 charge for the box, and 1.00 for its colour printing.” He checked the till ticket occasionally for prompting. “You picked up a box of cream Cinnibuns—an extra $2.00. There is a $6.00 fuel surcharge to get the buns here, and a $2.96 administration fee—I have to be paid,” he added accusingly.
He continued. “Then there’s the GST and a $1.50 shop improvement fee—you want a clean store, don’t you? But,” he added brightly, “there’s no sales tax in Alberta,” as though that justified the excess charges.
I looked at my five dollar bill. He looked at my five dollar bill. I stuffed it back in my wallet and dragged out my MasterCard.
I sank into the back seat of the taxi, deriving what comfort I could from my Trusty Taxi. It was short lived. Back home the meter showed $45.00. The driver turned to me.
“That’ll be $175.00,” he stated matter-of-factly.
My shocked expression sparked the first salvo. Apparently, the car didn’t run on condensed air, so the need for a fuel surcharge, etc., etc. I listened to the same lame litany I’d just heard from the store clerk. My MasterCard again contributed unwillingly to this largesse.
I carried my precious cargo indoors and opened the box. Most of the cream crowning the Cinnibuns had migrated to the underside of the lid. Their emaciated appearance reflected my mood and MasterCard. I made coffee and cut a bun out of the box. This was no celebration, not even consolation. This was a funeral tea for a stillborn trip to England.