George Johnstone’s comments on inflation are still current. Extracted from the August 1983 issue of TOPs Magazine: “

Wow! The president is proclaiming it, the newspapers are proclaiming it, the economists are proclaiming it. The recession is over and inflation is plummeting. I must be the oddball; I look in my engagement calendar and I don’t see any big upsurge that would equal the good ole days. Inflation is kaput? I just flew in from Baltimore where I paid $71 for five hours of sleep at the Holiday Inn. Acts are telling me not to go into New York unless the client or the booker picks up the hotel tab. They’re charging $125 a night for broom closets.

Nationally syndicated columnist Andy Rooney writes, “The price of a good hotel room has gone up higher and faster than the price of anything else, and I can’t figure out why.”

I’ll help you figure it out Andy, we’re being screwed, that’s why. No wonder Hilton died a millionaire. I was working a trade show in Las Vegas and the girl who assisted me was on a diet. After breakfast she complained to the restaurant cashier that at that time, eggs were selling a 56¢ a dozen. She thought it unfair that she had been charged $4.35 for two hard-boiled eggs. The cashier studied the check for a moment and then belligerently announced, “Yes, but you had toast with it.”

I had two days at the Washington D. C. Hilton. On checking out I noticed a $2 charge for telephone. I told them that I hadn’t used the telephone. I was informed that there was a $1 daily charge for the phone whether I used it or not. I was infuriated but I paid my bill.

I was so happy to read a few months later that a sharp lawyer brought a class action suit against the hotel. He claimed, “This is precisely what should make travelers angry. If you’re paying $120 for a hotel room, should the hotel charge you a quarter to use the toilet? Should the hotel charge you 50¢ for a sheet for your bed? Basically when you pay for your hotel room you are paying for everything, a bed, a bathroom, a telephone. To charge you again for a telephone is wrong.”

Y’know something, the guy was right and he won the case. The hotel had to return all the loot it ripped off the customers. But for some reason I never did get my $2 back. Maybe I’m at the bottom of the list. I understand it went into the hundred of thousands of dollars.

Because of our crazy inflation most of the standard acts in the Chicago area now ask for a fee plus expenses for out of town engagements. The expenses include airfare and hotel. This shows the client or booker that our fee isn’t really high; it’s the expenses that are killing us. Last year I had a contract for a one-day gig out of town. The contract called for a payment of $750 for the day. Sounds big, eh? After I deducted my airfare, hotel, food and cab fares, I returned to Chicago with a net profit of $276. This is why we have to set up the contracts of a fee plus all expenses.”

Article reprinted with permission by Joe Ganger