I'm writing this post from the NACBA (National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys) conference on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. I arrived here via plane, and the ridiculous airline fees I encountered on the way here inspired this post. I flew via US Airways, and not only do they charge for every checked bag, but you can't even get any kind of beverage on US Air without paying a fee. Sure, it's a nominal sum - just a couple of dollars - but that's not the point. The point is that traveling has become more and more of a hassle, and having to pull out your wallet for an extra fee at every turn certainly doesn't make a customer feel 'warm and fuzzy.' This is especially true because these added charges aren't for 'new' services - they're for services that have always been included in the base air fare.
Rising prices are affecting all businesses - airlines and law firms included. That's understandable. Sometimes rates need to be raised. But I suspect there would be less grumbling and less bad feelings if the airlines just added the $15 first bag fee plus an additional $5 or $6 to every airline ticket for a total hike of about $20 rather than asking customers to pay a nominal sum here, there and everywhere. Most customers probably wouldn't even know the difference in the regular fare.
So what does this have to do with your law practice? Don't make the same mistake that US Air is making (and other airlines are considering). Don't nickel and dime your clients, adding charges to their bill for faxes, long distance phone calls, postage, or other 'incidentals.'
If you must raise your rates, raise them. But don't antagonize clients by adding fees or charges, particularly for services that should be included or that clients expect to be included in your regular fees (or that have been included in your regular fees in the past).