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United Reneges On $25 Fare  
User currently offlineRaddog2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 1608 times:

This is an interesting article:

$25 to Paris? Forget It, United Says

CHICAGO (AP) - Want to fly round-trip to Paris for less than $25?

United Airlines inadvertently listed such eye-popping fares on its Web site for nearly an hour last month - then disappointed customers who snatched them up by saying it wouldn't honor them.

A United spokesman blames a technical error for the misleading offerings at www.ual.com that lasted 55 minutes on the evening of Jan. 31. The result: International fares such as San Francisco to Paris for $24.98, with similar deals for flights to Hong Kong and other cities.

A total of 143 tickets were sold at the near-giveaway prices, United spokesman Chris Brathwaite confirmed Thursday.

United later informed the ticket-holders that the fares that looked too good to be true were just that.

``We certainly apologize for any misunderstanding and inconvenience it may have caused to customers,'' Brathwaite said. ``But ... it was a glitch. We fixed it and we advised the customers, and we gave them some options.''

United has offered to find the lowest possible fares for the customers. But that's not sitting well with customers like Eric Bescher, who snapped up a $27.98 ticket from San Jose to Paris and expects United to honor it.

``If they don't come through with a goodwill gesture, I'm going to dispute it,'' he told WSJ.com, The Wall Street Journal's Web site.

United's spokesman said customers should have realized ``you don't get something for nothing.''

``We expect reasonable people to realize it was a mistake,'' Brathwaite said.
--------

My opinion is that United should just eat their mistake and fly the passengers to Paris or wherever. What gives the airlines the right to charge us $100 change fees for our mistakes and get off scot free for theirs? Any opinions?

42 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineKonaB777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1416 times:

The mistake was so quick in duration, not that many people could have taken advantage of it, so I think UA should honor those tickets.

User currently offlineCstarU From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1409 times:

I agree, UA should have quietly honored these tickets.

It's bad PR for them and they'll regret the negative publicity that will come with the lawsuit(s).


User currently offlineGoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2701 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1380 times:

United should have given the 140 some people the flights for what they paid for. It's not their fault that United made a computer glitch. Besides, at about $30 a person which seems like the average from the article, 143 people would cost under $6,000. What that to United? One first class seat? Probably. That's my opinion.
Nick


User currently offlineImkeww From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1367 times:

It's clear that United does not want to set a precedent here. Invariably, there will always be web-associated glitches with online booking. Thus, the most prudent decision to would be do eat the bad PR and deny the tickets. Besides, the 99% of all air industry related PR is bad and bash-happy anyway, so this too shall pass within a matter of milliseconds. =P

$6,000 for 143 is *a lot* of lost United revenue. If those people had just paid even regular discounted coach fares of around $300-400 each, we're talking a ballpark of 60K-80K. That is certainly a large sum, even for a multi-billion dollar corp. such as UAL.

Overall, I think the press release could have been handled more tactfully, as in UA could have used a less "consumer is the bad guy" tone, but spokesman Brathwaite gave one salient statement: "Everyone knew that the fares were unreasonable."

Think of a Mom-n-Pop shop (rare nowadays)... would you cry bloody murder if 'Mom' accidentally wrote $1.00 as the price for a $10.00 shoe sole? I think not. You know it is a mistake. Although you may refuse to see the UA situation vs. this as similar (because UA is an 'evil' mega corporation), the same principles (ETHICAL BUSINESS principles) still apply.

-imk


User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4506 posts, RR: 34
Reply 5, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks ago) and read 1345 times:

Ditto to Imkeww's entire post. Honoring web-glitch fare mistakes would set a very bad precedent. Customers who clicked onto such fares should have figured that something was wrong. They should have called the airline's web customer service phone# for confirmation before buying tickets and expecting that they were off to Paris for $25. Good grief, $25 is less than a WN or JetBlue introductory fare on a short-haul flight.

But United should indeed have been more gracious in their press release announcing their refusal to honor the bookings. Big Air has an amazing talent for coming across as arrogant and insensitive.

Jim



Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineRaddog2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (13 years 7 months 3 weeks ago) and read 1315 times:

While I agree to some extent with Imkeww, I would argue that "Mom" of Mom&Pop fame would not charge you a $100 exchange fee if you decided to exchange the shoes you bought for another pair. I think you reap what you sow. If we, as passengers, make the "mistake" of buying a fare that later drops 50%, and we want to get the lower fare, we're forced to pay fees and jump through hoops. Now United is in the position of having made the mistake of selling a fare that is too low, and wants to make you pay a higher fare. I think in principle they should be forced to swallow the fare difference and give you a $100 change fee for your inconvenience. A ticket is a contract between you and the airline. Why should passengers be bound by the contract, and the airline not?

And I disagree with the revenue calculation -- most of these tickets are for people who probably wouldn't have decided to go if the fare were $300 or whatever. So unless the plane is completely full and these passengers start bumping other farepaying pax off flights, the impact on revenue is probably minimal. And since these 140 pax are split among many different flights on many different days, I think the probability of them being on totally full flights is probably very small.


User currently offlineCtbarnes From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3491 posts, RR: 50
Reply 7, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1291 times:

If UAL were more careful about such glitches, there would not have been a problem. They should have caught the glitch before it got released on the itnernet. The company's response I thought was arrogant and tactless. It smacks to me of "Not guilty by reason of insanity"

Frankly, I think they should swallow the mistake and honor the tickets-if nothing else for good PR. Perhaps one of the disgruntled lot will complain to the DOT or better yet the FTC.

Charles, SJ



The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
User currently offlineZrs70 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 3175 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 1280 times:

I disagree with the majority.

It's obvious that UA made a mistake. While they should make ammends, we, too, should be adult enough not to take advantage. I would hope that if I were the seller, my loyal customers would give me a break on my mistakes.



14 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2013
User currently offlineN-156F From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1249 times:

Imkeww, no, I would not cry bloody murder if my mom put $1 as the price of a $10 shoe- unless she sold it as such. In that case, the deal is done, and it has to be honored (and I have to "fire" my mom).

Unless UA wants some *really* bad publicity, they'd best honor the binding contracts they entered into with those 143 people and give them their flights. Then they need to fire their webmaster.

I say that if those people don't get their flights, they should sue. UA entered into a contract with them to provide travel when they bought those tickets, regardless of computer glitches. Unless UA wants to lost the $60-80K *and* legal fees, they should get their butts skyward and swallow the loss.


User currently offlineBostonBeau From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 464 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1241 times:

Geez....what a great opportunity United is missing for a promotion. They could get on all the news and talk shows with this. It would be such great publicity to honor the fares and make a big media deal out of it.

User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39898 posts, RR: 74
Reply 11, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1237 times:

I am sure that was a publicity stunt.
Nice try United but I will be flying Air France to Paris.
I know it's still a part of Star Alliance



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8124 posts, RR: 54
Reply 12, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 1229 times:

United are assholes. If people thought they might get a ticket to Paris for $25 the site would permanently be inundated with hits - what a great way to create traffic! It barely costs the airline anything during off peak months when planes are half empty anyway. It's quite lawful to charge all the taxes on top of the silly fare, so the cost to the airline to carry these pax is virtually nothing. They should do this on purpose every few months - keep up the pretence of it being inadvertant, what a great publicity scam. Pretend to be an honourable and moral organisation by always honouring these "accidental" fares. Brilliant!

Instead, what could have been a publicity bonanza has instead turned into yet another catastrophe for this awful corporation. I wouldn't fly with them for all the tea in China, they can make their money without my help.



fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineGmonney From Canada, joined Jan 2001, 2159 posts, RR: 20
Reply 13, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 1182 times:

Up here in Canada the law maybe different but basically the Canadian Business law says something like this:
The Price tag is only a reference, when the customer bringing the product to the counter (ie. internet user clicking on the $25 flight) it's ONLY AN OFFER. The person at the counter (sales person) has the right to accept this offer or not. The example in school was a book put on the the sale table, when it was not on sale. By the customer bringing it to the counter the salesperson can identify if its the right price or not. So if this was in Canada, there would be no legal obligation for the airline to award the customers the tickets. If I were United I would cut the person a deal somehow, split the difference, give two half price tickets, this ticket is half price then the next time that the customer takes a flight its half price. The customer is getting a free flight, United is still getting money, and who's to say the person will never fly again with that carrier if they give this flight for basically free... Mistakes will cost major companies a lot of money.

G



Drive it like you stole it!
User currently offlinePVDtoGo From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 14 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 1172 times:

I can understand that point of view GMonney, but what happens if the cashier accepts the price, charges the credit card, and gives a receipt for that amount; as the Untied site has done. Several people have statements showing the low fare charged, and have e-tickets.

If the cashier has made that much of a mistake, what happens then in Canada? It just seems to me, that if we have made a mistake in buying a flight, lets say for the wrong day; we can't refuse to honor the charge, we have to abide by the rules of contract. If that means paying the penalty to change, so be it.

I believe the airline should be held to the same standard as the consumer. Up until the credit card is charged, yes, correct the problem, but after that...a sale has been made....no? Sorry about the bad grammar!! Thanks for listening.

G'nite all!


User currently offlineGmonney From Canada, joined Jan 2001, 2159 posts, RR: 20
Reply 15, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 1158 times:

Not too sure about how the e-tickets work, but it seem like its automatic and the credit card is automatically charged, how safe is this? I know that the internet is getting better, but I would prefer to conduct business with a person, thats personal, but soon I may have to start. What if the computer screws up...like this situation, doesn't United have any measures to prevent these type of screw ups?

Well, if the person has a receipt for the purchase, its a done deal, not open for discussion, they are flying for the $25 or so dollars, smooooooth United real smoooooooth!!!!

Thanks all,

G



Drive it like you stole it!
User currently offlineGolfhaus From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 1152 times:

Not necessarily... an airline has a right to deny boarding to any passenger for any reason. Including not paying enough for a ticket.

Imagine for a moment that this wasn't just a 55-minute glitch where some wires got crossed. Imagine, instead, that it was an 18-hour hacker attack. Word spreads that, not United... say, America West, or Frontier, or JetBlue, is the victim of the assualt. Word spreads, and before the airline can figure out how to combat the problem while still maintaining a web presence, they have issued hundreds, maybe thousands of tickets at tremendous losses. Are they still liable? Do they still have a duty to honor those tickets because their security wasn't up to snuff? What if accepting those tickets at that loss is substantial enough to cause a financial crunch that cripples the airline?


User currently offlineCtbarnes From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3491 posts, RR: 50
Reply 17, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 1147 times:

Golfhaus:

If the posting could be traced to a hacker or deliberate act of sabotage for which UAL was not directly responsible, then I think the company could reneg on the purchased tickets; if the mistake was something beyond their direct control, it would not be their fault. The yardstick is whether company was acting in good faith.

From the sound of the original post, the mistake was their own fault, although admittedly we don't know for sure. In addition, the tenor of their response, however, makes me want to side with the passengers even more.

Charles, SJ



The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
User currently offlineGolfhaus From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1130 times:

Charles,

The problem with such an arrangement is that there are some people who will NEVER believe an airline, whatever it says. You know the type. There's no such thing as a weather delay, they're crew problems that we're SAYING are weather delays so we don't have to give them anything. I once took a bag claim for a woman who was absolutely convinced that her bag didn't arrive, not because she had EIGHT MINUTES to connect because her inbound was delayed, but because someone pulled her bag to steal stuff out of it. And an airline's website security is ALWAYS fine, but when someone screws up, they like to blame it on hackers. I'm complaining to the FAA on you, and I'm NEVER flying your airline again.

Similar question: Today's my last day working at Some Cheap Airline. I'm getting laid off at 5:00 this afternoon. So I take our ticket stock and plate about 300 tickets for my friends, family, random people ("Hey buddy, want a free ticket? It's my last day.") Is SCA obligated to honor those? Of course not. Accidents happen, and an airline is not obligated to honor anything forged as a result of an accident.


User currently offlineAlpha 1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1120 times:

Why do people like you talk about everything as "rights"? UA, like any company, has every "right" to run their business as they see fit-in this case charging a change fee, like you mentioned. And they have every "right" as a business to correct an error that was honestly made. I hope UA doesn't honor those fares.

User currently offlineRaddog2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1120 times:

I think there's a big difference between a situation caused by criminal activity on the part of a third party, and a situation caused by the airline's own poor management of its website. For instance, I shouldn't be liable for contracts on which some guy forges my signature. However, I should be liable for contracts which I sign, but which I just hadn't read. And I think this case is more similar to the latter than to the former. United admits that it made a mistake. Now it's too cheap to pay the consequences. Tough cheese. United never cuts passengers any slack. They almost never waive any penalties. They never offer hotel room when stranded in Chicago when cancellations are due to "force majeure" events and therefore not subject to Rule 240. If they want to live by the contract, they need to die by the contract. They shouldn't expect passengers to be happy when they try to weasel out of their contractual obligations.

User currently offlineAlpha 1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1117 times:

I'm reading here and on other message boads that thse people should sue if it isn't honoered? Think of how stupid that sounds!! Suing over a $25.00 fare? You're lawyers fees for one day will be 50 times that amount. If one of these people sue over this, their idiots.

User currently offlineRaddog2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1113 times:

Alpha1, sorry I didn't see your post when I posted mine. I don't begrudge the airline for making people pay penalties and enforcing the rules. If they want to do business by not cutting anyone any slack, fine. But then they shouldn't expect the rules to only apply one way. Selling someone a ticket IS signing a contract. They made a mistake, but they signed the contract anyway. It shouldn't be the customer's duty to happily allow the airline to unilaterally cancel the contract in order to save the airline from the consequences of its own stupid mistakes.

I actually looked this up -- in certain states, if a store clearly posts the price of a product, it must sell you the product at that price. For instance, if a box of chocolates has $10 posted on it, the store must sell it to you for $10 -- it cannot do a bait and switch and tell you that the price is incorrect and you have to pay $12. It would be a violation of state law. And that's even before you pay for it! So I'm not so sure that United has too much of a legal leg to stand on.

Like I said, everyone knows it's a mistake. But when United starts waiving my penalties and offering to be flexible with rules, maybe then we should show them a little flexibility and let them cancel the tickets.

And I'm not going to ask what you were implying by saying "people like you."


User currently offlineGolfhaus From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1114 times:

"United never cuts passengers any slack. They almost never waive any penalties. They never offer hotel room when stranded in Chicago when cancellations are due to "force majeure" events and therefore not subject to Rule 240."

You say that like it's a bad thing.


User currently offlineRaddog2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (13 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 1105 times:

It might be a bad thing, it might not. Don't get me wrong -- I'm certainly not expecting such treatment. Nor am I saying that the airlines necessarily should waive my penalties and give me hotel rooms. I don't go around demanding such things every time I'm stuck, and I do sympathize with CSAs who have to deal with argumentative passengers who DO demand such luxuries. But I AM saying that if United wants to play by the rules, fine. Fly these people to Paris. United shouldn't be able to declare that the contract of carriage only works one way because they need to cover their ass on a stupid mistake.

25 747firstclass : Just a few more thoughts that came to mind. Its my understanding that this web fare sale was for a time when the flights from SFO-CDG were for a perio
26 Golfhaus : 747firstclass, Because it sets a dangerous precedent. They accept the $25 fare during a time when bookings are light; fine. What happens when the same
27 Brissie_lions : We here in Australia also have the same Act....the Trade Practices Act. Yes, a price tag is only an offer to sell. BUT....Section 52 of the Trade Prac
28 Raddog2 : I would also say that letting United get away with not honoring the tickets also sets a very dangerous precedent. Let's suppose one day United finds t
29 TheCroupier : Raddog2...you're right. BTW, where have you guys been? This is not the first time an airline has goofed on a fare quotes. And its not just limited to
30 BostonBeau : Well, the bad publicity for United is about to start: the TODAY show teaser at 7:00 was "A $25 fare from SFO to CDG?? Don't count on it!". I still thi
31 BostonBeau : Well the spot on TODAY was just on. United declined to have a spokesperson appear. One funny thing though, United has agreed to waive the $100 change
32 AA@DFW : United really screwed the pooch on this one. I can't believe they are making such an ass of themselves! They should just HONOR the tickets and accept
33 Danilovics : I think that they messed up and should honor thoes tickets. The people didn't do anything wrong. The airline did and they should pay for it.
34 Post contains images Airsicknessbag : If anyone cares, here´s how German law would treat that case (which might happen if one of the would be pax was German): 1) United put fares offers o
35 BostonBeau : Well, I prefer the policy of my local supermarket. If the price on the scanner is different from the price on the shelf or item....I get the item for
36 747firstclass : United has been chasing me down for months to try their new jet service to Peoira from ORD. They have sent me coupons etc. Why if they cant honor fare
37 Post contains images Nwa747-400 : If I was United I would have: called each of the 143 passengers and said: "Goodevening Mr. Smith, this is "Sue" from United Airline calling. I just wa
38 AKelley728 : Well, it looks like United changed their minds.... United To Honor $25 Europe Tickets CHICAGO (AP) -- Fantasy fares of as little as $25 round-trip to
39 N-156F : Truly a story to rival the US Airways first-class pig! To those of you who staunchly defended United Airlines, may I only give a simple "ha ha"? Sorry
40 Post contains images CstarU : the airline thought it was on solid legal ground with its cancellations Sometimes it's not always what is legal, but what is right. "We've chosen not
41 Goingboeing : Just goes to show...don't believe everything you see on the internet.
42 Vngd4me : Could it have been a publicity stunt? Low fares may have been keyed in wrong or a mistake but did UA let the bad PR get out just to change their mind
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