What Is an Expedite Fee?

By Patrick Gleeson, Ph. D.,

"Expedite Fees" are fees added to another fee, often a fee for service, to ensure that the service provided will be expedited, meaning that it will be provided sooner than the same service would be provided without such a fee.

Optional payment

Occasionally, the fee is bundled with the primary fee itself and the two are only offered together, but usually such fees are optional; the customer can refuse the Expedite Fee and pay for and receive only the normal unexpedited service

Primary Characteristics

Expedite fees have two primary characteristics: the fee itself and a description of the additional service to be provided.

Expedited Shipping and Handling

One expedite fee that we are all familiar with, although usually not by that name, is the additional fee for expedited shipping and handling. The extra charge for "Overnight service" provided by the US Post Office, Fed Ex, and other national and international carriers is essentially an expedite fee. This example illustrates another common characteristic: expedite fees with tiered service: "overnight," "second-day" and "3 day" services each have a charge associated with them. The greater the expedition— the faster the service—the greater the fee.

Expedite Fees in Government

Another common expedite fee is the fee charged by US municipal building departments for faster service—examination of documents, inspection and permitting commonly have expedite fees available. These are almost always labeled by the generic name: expedite fee. Usually no specific guarantee is provided, only that the service will be faster than it would be otherwise.

A Mild Word of Caution

Some expedite fees, such as those described above with reference to shipping times, have an explicit guarantee of the time period within which the service will be provided: "overnight," for instance. But others do not. Building departments use the term "expedite" in a formal or legalistic way. An expedite fee attached to a building permit application over and above the normal fee may mean only that it is handled somewhat faster than the permit application without the expedite fee payment. It may still take weeks.

Payment of an Expedite Fee Constitutes a Contract Agreement Between the Parties

Payment of an expedite fee for any service does imply some standard of delivery of that service, even if it isn't spelled out in the contract. The US Government recently offered an expedite service for passports, and the failure to deliver them in a timely way has resulted in more than one class-action lawsuit.

About the Author

Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.

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