Friday Fives – every answer is United Airlines


What is a filthy business tactic you know that everyone should be aware of?

This is one you may not know about – airplane tickets, websites, and cookies.  I learned this from my brother, who flies for a living.  If you go to a website and look up fares for a destination… then leave… and come back to that site… the rates go up!  Basically, they know you have shopped and around and still came back to them.  They know they have you.  Scary, isn’t it?  Also… brilliant.  To get around it, he’ll change browsers, or clear his cookies.

What is unethical as fuck, but is extremely common practice in the business world?

What isn’t?  To me, business ethics is like ‘compassionate conservative’.  Does it really exist?  Here is a great point.  My brother is a HUGE Wal Mart advocate.  I don’t shop there, personally.  I am fortunate that I can shop places that pay living wages and benefits (like Costco).  He points out that Wal Mart’s job is NOT to be ethical, or even to take care of their employees.  In the strictest since, they are a business.  That means it is their job to make as much money as possible without breaking any laws.  Business isn’t about morals, and neither is capitalism.  If you are ‘public’ company (which means you have shareholders)… your responsibility is singular:  to make as much money for your stockholders as possible.

What has been the best corporate Darwin Award? A decision made by a company that basically killed the business.

Oh man, United Airlines tends to win this award every week.  The best would be ‘United Breaks Guitars’.  The story in short:  guy sitting on plane looks out window and watches guys abusing his guitar case as they load it in the belly.  When he next sees his guitar (a Taylor, NOT cheap)… it is busted.  He told United, and they basically told him to eat a bag of dicks.   Being a musician, he made a song and video about it, called ‘United Breaks Guitars’.  It went viral, and the publicity cost United millions.  Someone did the math, and pinned it around 180 Million.  Please, enjoy these links.  It is very very well documented.  I am MORE than happy to spread the humiliation further.   I wrote a piece called ‘United Airlines Sucks’ about a decade ago.  Don’t even remember what I was bitching about.  But, that post is one of my most popular, and has thousands of hits.

Yeah, this story has it’s own Wiki page.

Really, any time you read a story about gerbils being forcibly flushed down airplane toilets (a child’s pet, for god’s sake!) or doctors being dragged off planes and beaten, or dogs jammed in overhead bins left to die… you just know it will be United.  Funny thing is, even if it isn’t United… that is the first thing we all think.  So, the damage is done.

It seems people google the term ‘United Airlines Sucks’ pretty darn often.  Let’s just stop and enjoy the song.  Oh, and this incident changed the goddamn laws of the United States of America.  A bill was passed that mandates guitars are to be allowed on board the plane (as opposed to below, in cargo)

Ok, full disclosure.  Maybe they aren’t the worse people on Earth.  They did deny a lady from boarding with an ‘emotional support peacock’.  Thank god, those birds are assholes.  So is anyone who needs one, and thinks they should fly with one.  Obviously, this whole emotional support _____ thing is out of control.  I guess I could see the ducks and pigs and dogs… but someone had to draw the line.

 What companies make you wonder ‘how are they still in business’?

 Well, United.  I’ll have to get back to you on that.  The thing that bothers me most about business is apathy.  I am not even surprised by malice.  Apathy, though… confounds me.

 What company has forever won your business?

 I can’t think of any.  This isn’t to say there aren’t any.  Costco is one I am pretty loyal to.  Not just great prices and free samples all the time, but they are notorious as a good and fair employer.  Being the liberal that I am, that stuff means a lot to me.  In our society, you vote with your dollar.  It is more powerful the letters or rants or blogs.



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