No Backsies On U.S. Air's Obviously Mispriced Backseats

from the honest-mistake dept

As much as we’d love to side with the little guy, we have to draw the line here. U.S. Airways agreed to honor 1,000 tickets accidentally advertised and sold for $1.86. We said it before when United did a similar thing a few years ago, and we’ll say it again: The airline should not have to honor these fares. Sure, many of us would have jumped on the deal — in the hopes that it was actually true and knowing it probably wasn’t. Even if you thought one dollar and 86 cents was the intended price, it was clearly an honest mistake. Those who make the finder’s-keeper’s argument should at least be consistent. If a customer overypays for something by $1,000 because of an obvious computer-related error — say, a bank’s faulty bill pay system or a typo in an online form — then you should also argue that the business can keep the mistaken excess. Unlike United, which caved from public pressure and finally allowed its fares to stand, U.S. Air immediately gave in before the negative publicity. They probably figured it would cost them less to allow the flights than take up the fight. So, in a perverse way, this was a good decision. It’s a struggling airline that literally can’t afford the bad press. But maybe they should have proposed a compromise instead. People get to keep the frequent flyer miles if they return the tickets, which the airline can sell again at market price. Some of the customers were only after the miles and don’t plan to take the flights anyway.

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Comments on “No Backsies On U.S. Air's Obviously Mispriced Backseats”

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drteknikal (profile) says:

In this case, why matters

I applaud them for honoring the offers. It may not have been legally required, but they get a PR bonanza for the price of a few airline seats. I am much more likely to give my business to a company that does the right thing by its customers than a company that sticks to the letter of the law even if it means offending customers.

“The customer is always right.” Wherever possible, businesses should apply this rule. Screw up and charge them too much? Pay them back. Screw up and charge them too little? Eat the costs and bask in the PR limelight.

No, they probably didn’t need to honor the deals. But when honoring the deals gets you positive publicity that you couldn’t buy, why not?

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