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Scenario

I own a car rental shop and am setting up a fee schedule for when customers bring back a vehicle with signs of damage. Some damage has a defined price ie. a rear view mirror. Some damage is conditional on how severe it is, such as a dent.

Question

What is the best way of communicating the option to designate a variable fee versus a defined fee? A couple of options below:

Variable hint text

Use hint text. Pricing remains variable, if value is not entered


Validation message on-mouse out

Empty field. Validation message appears on mouse-out, if value not entered. Must use 0 for variable pricing.

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Instead of "empty means it's variable," make price type an explicit choice.

showing fee name, and price type, with variable being an opt-in feature

I would imagine that you have more statically priced fees than variable, so static pricing could be the default option, enabling the "amount" input box when active. This way, your most common path would not have any additional effort, but still clarify intent when a variable fee is required.

Making the price type explicit will protect against a user simply forgetting to set the price and moving on. I understand your design shows the red tooltip to protect from the same thing, but in that design it's presented as if it's an error when really it's just a different price type.

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