Using the Newsweek “Mildly Tacky” to “Utterly Shameless” scale, I would put this near the Utterly Shameless category.

Just about an hour ago, I received an e-mail from PhillyCarShare, essentially informing me that starting in May, there would be only one plan available, which will come with a $15 per month fee.  Opting out requires account cancellation.

Here is the e-mail text.  It sounds like a professional PR firm helped write it, as I don’t see how paying a new fee benefits ME.

Rate Plan Change to Benefit You: Please read on…

PhillyCarShare is pleased to announce that we’re simplifying car sharing in Philadelphia!

Starting May 1st, we will streamline our offerings into one plan, the Philadelphia Plan, which will give every residential member access to the lowest PhillyCarShare hourly rates.  The monthly fee will be $15 and the hourly rates will range from $3.55 to $8.55, with the continued monthly 5 cent reduction in the hourly rate through July 2009.  All current Basic Freedom members will be converted to this new membership plan on April 30th, when the first of your $15 monthly membership fees will be charged to your credit card.

With the significantly lower hourly rates available in your new plan, you will have access to the lowest hourly rates on the largest fleet with the most locations in Philadelphia.

If you have any questions, please call our Member Services folks at 215-730-0988, ext. 5.  If you would prefer to pay all at once, we will provide a 30% discount on the monthly fees; you should mention “Coupon Philadelphia” to the Member Services associate, who will then charge you $125 for a 12 month membership.

If you have any concerns, please call Member Services at 215-730-0988, ext. 5.  If this plan is not for you, then please use the link below by April 30th, 2009 to cancel your PhillyCarShare membership and avoid being charged the $15 May membership fee.

With rate simplification and the most extensive network of vehicles and neighborhoods, we are solidifying the fact that PhillyCarShare is the most convenient choice for those short trips around the city.

Since we launched in 2002, Philadelphians have embraced car sharing because we’re convenient, we make good sense for your wallet, and we’re green.  As the nonprofit car sharing company dedicated wholly to serving Philadelphia now and in the long-run, PhillyCarShare is, in fact, a plan for Philadelphia, creating a more sustainable future for this great city and playing a fun and convenient role in your life.

My problem is not that there is a mandatory fee now.  It’s how little advance notice was given about the change.  The e-mail hit my inbox after most people would leave work for the day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the members don’t get the message til Monday or even later if they’re on vacation.

I’m floored.

Even a credit card company would (in theory) provide at least a little bit more advance notice before changing the terms of an account.

Even if PhillyCarShare contacts me based on this blog post and offers me a waiver of the fee, I will still probably cancel the account.  I don’t know that I want to associate with a company that does business this way.