Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The low-cost alternative

I recently discovered that Spirit Airlines is running a huge promotion in which they are offering one way fares to Las Vegas from my market for $9 each way. $9! Now, that sounds like a pretty good deal and I thought I would check it out a bit. Competitive airlines are charging $109, so,  even if I didn't go, I would book the flight and only be out a $20 bill if Mrs. Kfred and I changed our plans.

I have been mildly aware of Spirit as a low cost airlines, but, really didn't know their whole concept. Digging a bit deeper into the details and fine print, I figured there would be a few rules and restrictions but, wow, I had no idea. Yes, the fare is $9 each way per person. Want to actually sit on the plane? The ability to select a seat costs a minimum of $10 with the option to move up to a $50 "big seat" with more room.  (I guess you can't opt out of the seat selection process and opt to stand the whole flight and save money.  They charge you anyway.)    Bringing only a carry-on so you don't have to check luggage through and avoid the baggage charge? Uh-huh. That's a ten-spot, as well.  They are actually charging you to put stuff in the overhead bin!  Feeling like a big spender and figuring you will go ahead and check your flippers and snorkel anyway?  Yow!    That's another $30 per bag one way!   Additionally, the others fees, taxes, and government charges boosted it up another $74.  Suddenly, the deal didn't look so hot. 

I ultimately decided to pass on this offer, but, was a bit inspired with the thinking  and am considering adopting it here as a new FTI business model.  Admittedly, our work here is free as we enjoy our  non-profit status for tax purposes, however, I did extend the ideas a bit to our own methods in order to cover costs. For example, our initial analysis on any issue or situation would be free.  Do you  want it accurately identified?  $50, please.    Produced in a timely manner?  An extra $25 charge is added to the bottom line.  Roll out the Factorcrap Truthometer Deluxe for an honest confirmation?  That's another $100.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. These kind of gimmicks just tend to turn people off.  Just give me a good bottom line price and quit nickel and diming people to death.  I have, however, instructed our financial department to offer one incentive to any future customer should they come our way:  any  deep analysis by Gummo, the Balloon Boy, would be free.     He never sits down to think clearly.   

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