I recently had to request official transcripts before I could be hired for an adjunct teaching position. The process brought to light some interesting differences between the four schools from which I have degrees.
My (beloved) alma mater charged nothing. There was a simple form on the website; I printed it, mailed it and was finished. My first master's institution charged me $7.45 and required a multi-step process from an outside vendor. My doctoral institution uses the same outsourcing, but charged me $12.
My second master's institution showed that the fee was $5, but then sent back my uncashed check with a note that "due to our new school policy, this fee has been dissolved." I always welcome $5, but it seems that it would have taken less cost and effort to change the website rather than to mail back checks.
I was also surprised that in 2016, schools still require a hand-signed form to release transcripts. No faxes or emails. No use of electronic signatures. Even with the external vendors, you do everything electronically, but still have to print and mail a form with the signature. I know transcripts are valuable, but it seems very archaic and cumbersome in this day and age, and I can only imagine what the current graduates think. Use a stamp!?
With the cost of education as high as it is, it would seem that more institutions could include processing of a few official transcripts as a perk for at least their graduates if not for everyone.
Think about what you do for those who may need services from you after their primary business is complete. Do you charge clients for copies of previous records (eg: taxes, medical files, blueprints, etc.)? Have you reviewed the process to make it as easy as possible? Could you factor the costs into present-day charges and eliminate those pesky after-the-fact fees?
While some may be required to maintain relationships with you over time, good will and loyalty can never be mandated. Treat the on-going records requests as an opportunity to shine not as a nuisance.
-- beth triplett