When Scott Cady tries to invoke Abt Electronics’ “100 percent” satisfaction guarantee, he’s hit with a $135 shipping fee. Does he really have to pay to return the appliance? “Not “100 percent satisfied” with my new dishwasher. And what’s this $135 shipping fee?”
The U.S. House of Representatives’ suspension calendar is an unlikely ground zero for a midsummer battle over airline ticket advertising. But then, almost nothing about the oddly named Transparent Airfares Act, a bill championed by the domestic airline industry, has followed a likely trajectory.
“How airlines plan to have their way with fare disclosure”
Memo to corporate America: Your customers are not walking dollar bills.
You don’t have to be a consumer advocate to know that. Just attend a random corporate event and you’ll see that companies don’t always see their customers the way they should.
The meeting I attended for a major transportation company — that shall remain nameless — was impressive. C-level execs in their Italian suits showed off some brand-new products that wowed everyone in attendance. But whenever they talked about the customer, and particularly customer satisfaction, it was in a detached, almost clinical way.
“Happy customers spend more,” the CEO told me. “So we want happy customers.”
“Why do companies really care about your happiness? (It’s not a trick question)”
The sooner, the better.
A survey of 651 readers found an overwhelming majority (80.2 percent) believe airlines or travel agents should quote an “all-in” price that includes any optional fees that traditionally were part of the ticket, such as a fee for the first checked bag or the ability to reserve a seat, when they ask for a fare quote.
A smaller number (17.4 percent) were content to wait until they were done shopping, but before they booked their tickets. Only 2.3 percent say it’s OK to show the total price when they’re ready to buy the ticket. And 0.2 percent — a single respondent — thought the fees should never be revealed.
“When should an airline tell you about fees? Survey says …”
If you’ve ever been hit with a surprise fee when you rented a car or booked an airline ticket and found yourself saying, “There ought to be a law,” I have some good news for you: There is. Or at least, there could be.
There could be two laws, actually. The Clear Airfares Act is a Senate bill that would require airlines and online travel agencies to disclose any additional fees before you buy a ticket. And the End Discriminatory State Taxes for Automobile Renters Act would prohibit states or localities from collecting a discriminatory tax on motor vehicle rentals.
Just one problem: Neither of these bills has been passed.
“Clear Airfares Act left sitting on the tarmac”