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 …”
When Reese Alutto booked a flight from an American Airlines ticket counter a few days ago, she expected the price she was quoted would be the price she paid.
But a few days later, she noticed an unexpected $30 charge from the airline on her credit card. There was no explanation. What kind of games was American playing?
Alutto emailed me for help. I wondered: Did she book by phone? Did anyone warn her about the extra fee? Was AA testing a new fee at that airport?
The answers in a moment.
““The lack of disclosure has me feeling a bit duped””