Pricing Transparency Builds 'Fareness' and Trust

Posted by Mayuresh Saravanakumar on Jan 5, 2018 11:00:24 AM
Mayuresh Saravanakumar
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After visiting family in India over the holidays, I was scheduled to fly back to the US. But due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to change plans. So naturally, I looked into rescheduling my booking with Emirates. I initially bought the ticket at INR 60,000 which is equivalent to $900. It was peak season, so the price was higher than normal. The price for the new date of travel, now out of peak season, was INR 50,000 plus a reschedule fee of INR 3,500. So, I happily called Emirates to reschedule, assuming that I would get back INR 6,500 with the new booking.

To my surprise, the Emirates representative told me that not only will I not get my refund. But I would have to pay an additional INR 12,000 to reschedule my booking! When I asked him why, I got a wishy-washy answer, “Since the fare is not available we have to give you a higher class.” The higher class he mentioned was actually some internal classification and not a better class of seat.

I was unhappy and felt it was very unfair. As a pricing consultant, I could not let this pass without understanding the rationale. So, I explored the fare breakdown for each ticket. I found that the fare rules were convoluted and made no sense to an outsider.

The fare was not fair.

After reading the ticket terms and conditions, I found that the cancellation charge was INR 5,500 and the new ticket was INR 50,000. It was better to cancel my ticket and book a new reservation, instead of rescheduling the current reservation. If I did this, I would get back INR 4,500 vs having to spend INR 12,000.  The “loop hole” let me save INR 16,500!

Organizations can take some lessons from this experience:

  1. Have a fair and transparent pricing system to increase both customer trust and loyalty;
  2. Arm your customer support team with the clear rationale for pricing so they can consistently explain the basis for the pricing;
  3. Check for price leakage to ensure price integrity that builds trust with customers.

After all these moves, I only spent an extra $200 to rebook my wife on the exact same flight. That is a sad story for another time! So, let me hear your “fare is unfair” story.