It amazes me how many companies are happy to be perceived as pricks! Just when you think cable TV or banks or cell carriers have the lock on customer unfriendly policies, in comes United Airlines to raise the stakes.
It now costs $200 to change a domestic ticket on United. If you’re going to South America that’ll be $300, $250 for Asia and Europe!
There are a few reasons United is doing this. Obviously, they want to be able to lower prices (if necessary) without letting those already holding reservations take advantage of the discount.
Why can WalMart do this, but not United? From WalMart.com:
- We will match any local competitor’s advertised price.
- We do not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor’s ad.
- Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.)
Businesses are supposed to make money. No one, certainly not me, wants to deprive them of that ability. What bothers me is when businesses take advantage of their market position and create one-sided rules. It almost seems as if they’re relishing our pain.
Airlines can change my flight times or itinerary or nearly any other part of my trip without compensating me. On the other hand, I have to cross every “t” and dot every “i” or suffer their wrath. That seems inherently unfair.
Airlines can delay without penalty when they can’t get a crew to the airport on time. If I can’t get to the airport, tough luck.
Not only can’t I freely change my ticket (except on my fav, Southwest), I can’t sell it or give it away either. Why should any airline care if it’s Helaine or Stef or me or anyone else? From where I sit, this is mean spirited.
Like I said, airlines aren’t alone operating like this. The less competition there is, the more likely stuff like this will happen.
I am happy to see Google beginning to compete with cable companies and T-Mobile upending the cellphone business model. We need more.
Where is PeoplExpress when you need them?