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Do You Earn Your Customers’ Allegiance?

allegiant.jpgJust this evening my wife, Jennifer, booked plane tickets for us to travel the week before Christmas. We had been planning on driving to the NC mountains to spend time at the family cabin. But she found some "amazing deal" on an upstart discount carrier. What a joy this should be. My least favorite airline of all time is TED. These tickets are even cheaper than TED, so we should be in for a treat. Anyway. As she completes the booking for this flight, the price starts climbing. They charge extra to reserve a specific seat, they charge you $10 per checked bag, per segment, they charge you a convenience fee to book the tickets - online, by phone, or at the airport - so you can't escape it. Honestly, by the time she got to the final screen she felt picked apart, turned upside down and shaken (to get all the change out), then mugged. Finally, on the very last confirmation, the price went up a final time - this time for something called flex travel (travel insurance). It had automatically been added to the cart and was built into the fee. If she wasn't paying attention, she would have paid this BS fee. Oh - and I forgot to mention segment fees - whatever those are. This reminds of registering a web domain at GoDaddy. They try to force every last thing on you. The uninitiated could wind up paying double or tripleĀ for a domain name because of all the forced options they didn't opt out of. Listen, I'm ALL FOR making a buck, upselling, etc. However...I feel it should be done in a respectful manner that's built around adding value to your customer's experience or outcome. For instance, just tonight I ordered some super duper pet stain remover to take care of one of my dog's 'mistakes.' At the end, they offered me an upsell to a small blacklight so that I could see the problem areas in the dark and avoid wasting product on unaffected areas. Good sell. I bit. But who is going to feel the extra value of a $10 per bag charge? And who is going to feel 'benefited' by being swindled into travel insurance? Let's get back to basics, folks. Let's get back to value for money. It was this airline's decision to be the cheapest damn option on the planet. That's their gig. They should either commit to their marketing promise or find a new one. Don't lure people in with a low price just to shake them down and jack up the price for nothing! It's the old bait and switch. Now, lest I sound like a cheap, whining baby, let me point out that the tickets still came out cheaper. And it doesn't bother me much as a consumer. But I'll bet it bothers others. It bothers me as a marketer because it really does seem to violate the covenant that exists between a buyer and seller. It undermines the trust and rapport. And though they've got us booked on this flight, if the antics continue, it will be the last. That's all. I recommend you think about this in your own business. Are you truly delivering value for money? Or do your customers feel slimed after they finish working with you?