Fixed prices are often annoying

We call them “force-fees” and we realized we can avoid them

6 min readNov 9, 2021

By Warrick Harrison (TendOrama founder)

(I Tended this photo $3.00) Photo by Igal Ness on Unsplash

We’re tired of it and we think a lot of people are. It’s been a perpetual pain in society for a long time. So we don’t have it in TendOrama.


We’re out. Mostly.

The Summary:

  • At TendOrama, we call it “force-fee” to reflect that fixed-pricing feels like being forced or at least coerced to do something: pay a pre-determined amount dictated by the seller.
  • TendOrama believes force-fee pricing should be avoided when possible, so we mostly use Pay-What-You-Will.
  • TendOrama lets you reward anyone online or in daily life by Tending them a wish (like you wish they had a pizza) and an amount (like 10 bucks).
  • As you create a Tend for someone, you have the option to add any amount for TendOrama (including zero) to pay for TendOrama’s service. That added amount is the Pay-What-You-Will part. So you might Tend a Medium writer 5 dollars for a glass of wine for their super article, and you could add 25 cents for TendOrama, for making the Tend possible. Or you could add 50 cents for TendOrama, or a dollar, or zero — that’s why it’s Pay-What-You-Will. To be clear, your entire Tend always goes to your Tendee. TendOrama doesn’t take any portion of the Tend itself.

Oh and since we’re here on Medium, yes, readers can Tend Medium writers’ articles. Writers don’t need to be signed up in TendOrama for readers to Tend their Medium articles. Readers just hit ‘Share’ in the article then ‘Copy to Clipboard’ and head over to TendOrama. Their Tend waits for the Medium writer there.

Beyond The Summary:

One-price-fits-all. Pay the price, no questions asked. There’s the price-tag. Pay it or you don’t get the product or service. That price exactly. We already decided on it. Pay or go away.

“Build value.” Companies, you need to make customers believe there is as much value in your product or service as you possibly can. That way, they will pay more. Never mind that each customer probably won’t use the full range of values. Just get them to believe it. Then make them pay for it!

“Charge what the market will bear.” Customers, that means companies squeeze you for every dime you’re willing to part with. Then maybe a dime or two more because ‘the market’ is your peers and some are slightly richer than you.

(Tended this photo $2.00) Seems like every company tugs cash out of your hands — Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash

Can you sense when companies charge the most the market will bear? Do you feel great about it?

I usually feel somewhere between used and wrung out.


Let’s look at force-fee with a clear eye: Sometimes it feels almost like piracy. “We won’t do the thing you need, that we can do anytime we feel like it, unless you pay us what we decide.”

I’ll let you take a moment and think of your own examples. In the office just now, ‘for-profit health care’ was the first thing that came to our minds. Even ambulances. Yeesh.

Reminds me of the story of the Ancient Roman fire department — they would show up to a burning house and demand their price before they put the fire out!

It also happens occasionally that a force-fee is lower than we expect; lower than we would gladly pay. Maybe that thing is really important to us right then.

Deliver a jerrycan of gas when I run out in a snowstorm — only ten bucks a gallon? Awesome!

That’s a crazy example, but think of times when the force-fee was less than you expected. Less than you feared. There have been times you’d have paid extra if there was a way to do it.

We take force-fee pricing for granted and we’ve put up with it our whole lives.

On one hand, it’s true that some people’s examples of horrid force-fees are other people’s, “So what?” moments.

On the other, we all get jabbed by anxiety sometimes just as we ask the price, and everyone knows what the disappointment feels like when the price is too high. Kind of like this:

It’s how much?? (Tended this photo $5.00) Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

So TendOrama chooses to avoid force-fees when we can.

We know we offer something people feel good about, something that makes your life a little better. Great! Good for us; good for you. Everyone is happy.

We don’t want to sully that experience by coercing you into paying the most possible.

Yes, we know you get a benefit:

  • You feel good when you use TendOrama because you get to delight someone.
  • You know that wouldn’t have happened easily without us.
  • You know we made some effort, and we incurred some costs as well.

We know you would prefer to even that up, most times, because you’re a fair person with normal morals.

Also, we still have to survive, have to pay the bills, so we do let you pay for our service. We just don’t force you.

There are two TendOrama modules where we do force-fee. One is when you let a driver know they biffed it (you’ll see the reason we force-fee in that case). The other time we force-fee is inside the Publisher’s Module — where people Tend a news article straight from that article. But we’re changing that over to Pay-What-You-Will as well.

TendOrama isn’t the first to offer Pay-What-You-Will, of course. Plenty of companies and organizations use it.

When people encounter Pay-What-You-Will they feel a sense of relief. It’s like taking off your bra at the end of the day. Like a constant and slightly pressing problem has suddenly evaporated.

Pay-What-You-Will is a little bit of freedom in your life.

I should point out that Pay-What-You-Will aligns with one of TendOrama’s central ideas:

People should get to reciprocate any value they receive if they want.

Like when they read a superb Medium article!!! (Just a nudge 😉 for the next article you read.)

So it makes sense that TendOrama would integrate Pay-What-You-Will into how we do things.

I rush to add: another main part of TendOrama’s ethos is that people should get to reward others without there being any reciprocity or “this-for-that” transaction at all.

You noticed that someone added something to the world? Great! Tend them if you want. They certainly don’t have to do something for you first!

Force-fee price-tags can degrade the shopping experience (Tended this photo $2.00) Photo by Senad Palic on Unsplash

Oh here’s another important reason to avoid force-fees:

You’re smart and aware.

You know how much value you get out of TendOrama.

Crucially, you know you don’t get the exact same benefit as the next person. So why should you pay the same amount as them?

You don’t even get the same amount of benefit each time YOU use TendOrama. This time you get this much benefit. Next time a bit less. Next time a bit more. Whatever.

With that in mind, how can we feel smart if we force-fee every person the same amount every time?

So our solution is:

You can pay whatever amount you feel represents the benefit you get this time.

We’re happy to let you do what you know is best.





99613 We let writers know they have a Tend waiting. Also we write occasional stories, not necessarily related to TendOrama.