from the internet-Russian-roulette-with-all-six-chambers-loaded dept
Uber, but for private jets. That’s JetSmarter’s pitch. But just as Uber has engaged in some questionable behavior in its quest for marketshare, so has JetSmarter. You won’t be able to find many negative reviews of the service because any journalist taking a test flight without delivering a puff piece is going to see their bank account take a hit.
Upon the execution of this Agreement, Journalist shall provide Company with a credit card and a copy of an ID of the credit card holder (“Credit Card”) and shall authorize Company to charge the Credit Card in the amount of $2,000 should (i) Journalist cancel the trip on the date of departure of the outbound flight or in the event that Journalist fails to arrive at the departure location at the scheduled departure time or other unforeseen delays or (ii) in the event Journalist fails to post the article described above on the first page of this agreement.
That’s the terms of the review flight. All this has done is ensure JetSmarter receives negative press that has nothing to do with the service it offers. This self-inflicted damage follows on the heels of the arrest of JetSmarter’s former president for embezzlement.
If it’s looking to dig itself out of a PR hole, JetSmarter’s “play nice or else” terms are nothing more than a $2,000 shovel. Forcing journalists into an agreement like this only makes potential customers question the veracity of positive reviews.
Add to this the fact that JetSmarter has buried a non-disparagement clause in its Membership Agreement and any positive statements about the company become inherently untrustworthy.
Here’s the clause from the agreement [archived here in case it falls into a memory hole]:
Each Member agrees to refrain from making any negative or disparaging comments to anyone (either orally or in writing) about JetSmarter or any of its affiliates or their business or operations or any of their respective officers, directors or employees; provided, however, that this provision shall not be interpreted to prevent Member from making any truthful statement to his, her or its attorneys or other advisors, or to any court or arbitrator of competent jurisdiction in the context enforcing his, her or its rights under or defending any action with respect to this Agreement.
This sort of clause is now against the law, thanks to recent legislation. It actively discourages members from complaining about anything, even though it seems to have done little to prevent its Yelp page from hosting mostly negative reviews. There are others who seem happy with the service, but the looming threat of losing thousands of dollars through contract cancellation isn’t exactly promoting the free exchange of opinions.
Simply put, the company is in the business of buying positive press with free flights carrying a $2,000 asterisk. For unhappy customers, the potential financial loss can run above $10,000. Whoever instituted these policies clearly has no idea how to handle their PR duties. JetSmarter has pinned a “KICK ME” sign to its own back and is now wandering the internet gathering boot prints — an outcome anyone with a handful of functioning brain cells should have seen coming.