Shame on Delta Airlines for Shaming Customers into Paying More

Shame on Delta Airlines for Shaming Customers into Paying More

Upgrades are a time-honored tradition in the sales game. They’re a way of getting a few extra dollars out of a customer after they’ve made the decision to buy. Some upgrades are a win-win; upgrade to a yearly plan and save $10 a month. That’s a savings for the customer and money the merchant can count on for the next year.

Upgrade your airline ticket and you’ll get priority boarding, first choice of seats and an option to cancel without a penalty if your plans change. For a frequent traveler with an expense account, this upgrade might be worth a $50 or more hike in the airfare but for the average Joe who just needs to get from here to there, it’s not.

So Joe chooses the cheapest ticket through Delta’s online ticketing service and he get this notice:

Delta Ticket PopupAt first glance, this seems like the usual legal disclaimer designed to make it completely clear what you’re getting and not getting for your money. Look closer and you’ll see the not-so-subtle jabs. You WILL be the last to board so you probably won’t get overhead storage and what a pain that’s going to be. You’re not getting priority seating, so expect to be stuck in the middle of the row between the woman with a 3 year-old on her lap and the guy with too much cologne who is going to talk on the phone throughout the 5-hour flight.

If you’re okay with this, go ahead and click “yes” – cheapo. Oh, and have a nice flight (insert eye roll.)

The pop-up doesn’t actually call anyone cheap but it might as well. Is that how you want your company to be known? As the airline who only treats you well if you pony up the cash for a higher-priced ticket? We all understand that there are perks that come with paying more, but do you have to rub it in?

I was on a website yesterday with a newsletter pop-up that gave me two choices in order to clear it: Yes, sign me up for your newsletter or No, I’d rather not learn how to properly manage my money. Nothing in between, huh? How about, No thanks, I already get too many email newsletters and I don’t read them but I’d be happy to read the article I came to read on your site if you’d just leave me alone and let me do it.

I might have signed up after reading the article. I might have thought; yes, these guys have something, I want to know more. Instead, I closed the pop-up and left the site. I don’t reward bullies.

That may sound overly dramatic but shaming is a growing trend and it’s got to stop. Choosing a lower-priced option or wanting to read without signing up does not mean I’m cheap, ignorant, stubborn or unwilling to learn. It means, this is what I need at this moment in time. If you respect that, I’ll respect you.

Telling me what I won’t get makes me feel like a Let’s Make a Deal contestant who chose the wrong curtain. You could have had a brand new 1973 Pontiac station wagon! Instead, you got $50 and six boxes of Creamettes.

How about this, why not nicely explain what I WILL get if I upgrade or sign-up or click. If you offer me a great deal, I’ll probably take it and I’ll feel better about doing it. Here’s the downside to shaming people into action; if it works and they take that action, you had better over-deliver. If I pay for an upgrade and I still get stuck in a bad seat, I’m going to post about it on Twitter, Yelp and Facebook.

Your company’s reputation is worth more than the cost of that upgrade or another name on your email list. Your goal should be to make every customer feel like a VIP. So knock it off with the negative pop-up text and try responding with a smile.

Can’t do it today? No problem. Maybe next time you’ll take advantage of our upgraded service. Either way, we’re happy to serve you today and every day.

If you’d like to learn more about this practice, Skift has several examples of how it’s being used in the travel industry.

Image: Skift

1 Comment for “Shame on Delta Airlines for Shaming Customers into Paying More”
  1. I would hope they’ve tested it and come to the conclusion that it’s worth the extra money they’re earning. People looking for the cheapest flight aren’t going to stop flying a particular airline if it means they have to pay extra.

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