The Airlines Never Learns
About six years ago, the chief operating officer of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain made comments opposing same sex marriage. Hilarity did not ensue. To quote Wikipedia, “LGBT activists … called for protests and boycotts, while supporters of the restaurant chain and opponents of same-sex marriage ate there in support of the restaurant. National political figures both for and against the actions spoke out and some business partners severed ties with the chain.”
Ultimately, the restaurants’ sales went up, management shut its collective mouth, and the chain quit donating to anti-gay rights causes. Simplistically thinking, the boycott worked. To the best of my knowledge there was no government interference in the way of law that forced Chick-fil-A’s position. What I really want to have happened is that the owner’s realized that eventually, if they kept on the same tack, more people would be hurt than helped: profits would recede, people would be laid off, and customers would no longer get what they were used to. Please note that these three things are mutually dependent variables.
The prime directive of a business is to make money by giving customers want they need or want. I am going to ignore all but one of the sub-paragraphs to this thought (for example - Should the product be legal? Should it be moral? What about if it is fattening)? I care about customer service, certainly. I have found that a gay religious person who actually gives me customer service is preferable to a straight non-religious person who ignores me. Call me finicky.
And now for the jump, which is my way of describing an awkward transition. I also care about price. A business that does not treat me honestly in telling me what I have to pay is crooked and does not deserve my business. We libertarians are for business and pro free markets. That does not include liars and cheats. Crony capitalism is not libertarian. I want to be treated fairly and honestly.
Why do I bring this up now? The airlines are at it again. Under current law, when you purchase an airline ticket, you have to be told the full price (including taxes and all the other fees) up front. It is called the full fare advertising rule. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 would allow airlines to quote an initial bare bones price before all the other stuff is added. Apparently, they think we like surprises. Now even if the law is passed, the airlines don’t have to do it that way. Whadaya wanna bet? Of course, the airlines would never play games before the initial quote and the final billing of your credit card. Oh, that has happened to you! I am surprised. And crestfallen. Surprised and crestfallen is what I am. They would never bait and switch.
To quote the Dallas Morning News, “Congress is plowing ahead despite public opposition.” There is another surprise.
Why do we put up with this crap? We put up with it from cable companies so why not all businesses, I guess. Politicians and businesses say they believe in transparency until they actually have to make something transparent. The Obama administration pulled that about face going from “say” to “do,” and now so is the current crop. Nothing changes. It is too bad that some businesses and government in general don’t treat us fairly and honestly.
-George K. Reynolds