Airlines Complaint - Advertisement of Air Fares

Review by Bob on 2011-04-08
I hate deception and airline advertising has deception so ingrained in their creed that I want to scream sometimes. I see an airfare for $349 each way if I buy a round trip ticket. They are just trying to be deceptive. Why not put down the full round trip fare of $698? I can multiply by 2 to get the price but why should I? That is like a grocer advertising half a sack of potatoes at $1.99 if you buy the full sack at $3.98. You cannot buy just 1/2 a sack.

The fares advertised should be the exact fare, not some percentage of the real fare. Also, why aren't all non-optional items listed with the fares, such as taxes, fees, etc? Optional baggage fees, special handling, and so on would be additional.

Fortunately, many websites will show the exact fares once I get into them, but why does the advertising have to be so deceptive? And 'everyone does it that way' is a very poor excuse. Be honest airline advertisers - put the real price up there - what are you afraid of? I can find it anyway.
Comments:8 Replies - Latest reply on 2011-04-08
Posted by tnchuck100 on 2011-04-08:
Along those same lines I despise hotels that state their room rate as $89.95 per night. Withholding the myriad of mandatory add-ons. State tax, room tax, bed tax, parking fee, waste recovery fee, pool use fee and drink machine cleaning fee. These added charges can easily boost that $89.95 to $125.

I always ask "How much are you going to charge my card?" Even then you must re-state that twice before they will disclose the TRUE cost.
Posted by Josh on 2011-04-08:
I've purchased one way tickets before, also sometimes roundtrip tickets aren't always twice the price of a one way ticket. It depends on the time of the day you're traveling and what day you are traveling.

Taxes are generally not included at most places in the price that you see listed. Grocery stores do list items as a price per pound even though the item is wrapped up. For example, chicken or turkey.
Posted by Ben There on 2011-04-08:
If the route can be purchased as is (meaning I really can fly from Dallas to London one-way for $399), then it would not be a big deal... However, the whole "$399 based on round trip travel" really is just a dodgy way of saying "round trip for $798" if one-way is really hundreds more that the round trip price.
Posted by momsey on 2011-04-08:
It's marketing. It's why gas stations advertise their prices per gallon as $3.499, with the second 9 very small. Why don't they just charge $3.50? A penny isn't a big difference, but apparently it makes a difference. It's annoying, and it is a valid complaint, but it is how everyone does it. They don't need to do it differently, because consumers put up with it.
Posted by Buddy01 on 2011-04-08:
In all your examples, listing the prices that way makes it seem as if you are getting a cheaper price when you are not. If an airline listed the fare with all fees and taxes included, but another lists it without the fees and taxes, most people would likely book with the second airline even if their price ends up being more expensive.
Posted by T on 2011-04-08:
Marketing marketing marketing. You could take almost any product or service, look at how they are advertised, and come up with a valid complaint.

So my response would indeed be "everyone does it." It actually is a good excuse, from the company's point of view. If it isn't false advertising, I don't see a problem with it.

As a consumer, you have to often do mental arithmetic. The price/quantity labels you see on shelves is a good example. This keeps your brain working, so someone doesn't take advantage of you.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-04-08:
Setting the price at $x.99 or $x.95 is a psychological marketing ploy. $1.99 does not feel like $2.00, even though it essentially is. There are studies that show the actual impact on sales this pricing strategy brings (as much as a 20% increase in cases).

There is a lot of that logic that goes into all pricing strategies - from airline tickets to bread.

Something else to consider, the consumer is required to pay all those fees and taxes (including sales tax) - the stores merely make it easy for you to pay them by collecting them for you.

So the price a store charges for a loaf of bread is just that, the store's cost to you. All those add-on things are not in the store's control and don't go to the store. The store just collects them and passes them along for you.

In Michigan, when you file your state taxes, they ask how much you spent for goods purchased through the Internet. The state is expecting you to declare (and pay) the state sales tax you owe on those purchases, which the Internet sites may not have collected and passed on to the state for you.

One advantage to us all in not having the taxes lumped in with the products' posted/advertised unit costs is that we can get a better look at how much we are paying in taxes. How much of my money is taken for local, state or federal coffers is something I keep in mind every time we have some vote on whether or not I want to increase my income or property taxes to fund something - and sales taxes are definitely part of that equation.
Posted by Ben There on 2011-04-08:
Toto, one problem with airline taxes is often carriers lump their fuel surcharge in with taxes, so almost all of the $500 in "taxes" in a flight to Europe is not really a tax at all. Many of the other taxes are airport fees, security fees, etc... so the government really gets maybe $30.

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