home from the cabin with my friend Billy, we heard an ominous “BANG”
from under the hood of his Ford F250 pickup truck. The “BANG” was followed by a loud
“CHUF CHUF CHUF” noise and we found ourselves pulled over by the side
of the road. Imagine our surprise to
discover that the number 7 cylinder had actually blown the spark-plug out of
the engine block with enough force to significantly dent the firewall. Billy was understandably upset, especially
since Ford had already diagnosed this is a “known problem” and his
motor had already been recalled a couple of times. The cherry on this particular cream pie was
when Ford tried to charge him an administrative fee for processing the
paperwork when he took it back the third time!
I guess all
companies in the service industry are sweating the small stuff these days. Even the smallest of costs are passed on to
the customer if they affect the bottom line in any way at all. In our never ending quest for immediate results
and maximum return on the investment of our dollars in public companies,
corporations are focusing on their stock value, rather than on the quality of
airline has a transfer fee. Let’s
suppose you’re an organized human being and you book your tickets four weeks in
advance to take advantage of the cheaper ticketing rates. Then let’s suppose that your wife buys
tickets to the theater to surprise you and you’d really like to go, except you’d
miss your flight if you went. “No
problem,” you say, “I’ll call and re-book.” The best part of this story is, you’ll be
charged a $75 to $100 re-booking fee to pay a lady on the phone to click her
mouse about four times for you. It’s
insanity. It’s double the insanity if your
flight is cheaper than your first flight because they won’t reimburse you the
difference. I know, I asked… she laughed
at me when I suggested it.
are a couple of things you can do:
1. Fly standby.
I know, it’s risky… but it’s free.
You can standby for an earlier or a later flight, it is entirely up to
you. You might want to keep tabs on your
target flight though, because if it fills up, you won’t make it aboard.
2. Do all of your booking on line with your
airline’s website. I found that despite
the admonition of the “helpful” booking agent on the phone, the
website does in fact, NOT charge you the $100 administration fee. I recently underwent this procedure and I was
only charged $32.19 which was the exact difference in the amount of the fare.
3. See the gate agent and (this is very
important) be polite! Gate agents have more power than Oprah. I have run up to them on many a Friday,
caught a glimpse of their nametag, and said, “Hi Jennifer, sorry I’m out
of breath… Please tell me I can still make the 1:15pm flight, am I too
late?” Usually, Jen laughs and just
says, “show me your ID…” then she rebooks me, gives me a seat, pats
me on the fanny, and sends me home with a polite, “you better hurry, Mr.
Walker…” and she doesn’t charge me a nickel.