20 Jul 2011

Tricks of the trade

I am a capitalist, but I am not happy when companies (or people!) fool me into paying for things I do not want. (I recently read, but cannot find the link to, a story pointing out that consumers are not as "efficient" in calculating and comparing prices as economists sometimes assume.)

Case-in-point, I booked a flight on Cimber Sterling A/S, a Danish airline, from Amsterdam to Copenhagen.

On the website, I chose my flight and then chose my seats. I was surprised to see how many seats were available but didn't notice the 7€ fee for choosing a seat. After I was distracted by a different website (where I did notice the fee), I hit "buy tickets" without removing my seat reservations.

Too late. Money gone.

So I emailed customer service and asked for a refund ("please cancel my seat reservations. I chose them by accident and do not care for a reserved seat.")

I got this response: "Sorry not able to refund seating," which was just about as nice and helpful as a club into the back of my head.

This policy is ridiculous -- it's as if I walked into a store, bought three cans of coke, paid for them, walked out, and then decided I only wanted two cans. How many stores would refuse to take back an unopened can that was purchased two minutes earlier?

Maybe a few, but those stores wouldn't stay in business for very long.

Bottom Line: Watch out for cheap-shot theft by companies that take your money when you're not looking and then refuse to give it back.