Silly arguments against a silly policy

I’m as opposed to Northwest’s new fees for booking with a telephone agent as the next person. But there are just some silly claims being made in the debate.

John Frenaye writes

    Last time you walked into a bank to deposit your paycheck, were you charged extra because you dealt with a person instead of an ATM? … No, of course not.

In fact, it is quite common for banks to offer “self service” checking accounts where no fees are charged for ATM banking but use of a teller at a branch incurs a service fee.

    It’s frightening because there are millions of people out there without Internet access or credit cards. These folks are now going to be penalized for doing business with Northwest since they will be forced to deal with a travel agency or a Northwest employee face-to-face.

Lack of internet access really isn’t that common, and is especially uncommon among those likely to travel by air. Free internet access is available in many public libraries and other locations. And those without computers or who do not use the internet already pay more for many items including airline tickets because they aren’t taking advantage of special internet deals. So this is hardly new.

    Northwest’s decision is funny, too. Funny, because it’s so ridiculous. First, Northwest caps its commissions, then it eliminates them. And – let me get this straight – now it wants me to pay it to sell its tickets?


    I can’t think of any other business that forces its distributors to pay for the privilege of selling its product. Not one.

While Northwest may not pay agent “commissions” they certainly do pay overrides and incentives. Structure is different, effect is the same.

And product distributors often pay licensing or royalty fees, although this usually involves exclusivity over a particular geographic region.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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