Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Cheap or cheap?

My dictionary lists 11 major meanings of the word "cheap", though not it's middle English sense of "a market", from whence street names like "Cheapside" are derived. The primary meanings are "low cost" and "shoddy", the potential confusion between the 2 causing airlines to call themselves "no frills".

So when KLM e-mailed me saying they were doing a spring offer of S$850 return flights to Europe, I thought I'd have a look since I paid S$1,600 only in February.

And sure enough, if you find an unpopular day (typically Wednesday), you can get the advertised S$850 fare, excluding tax(es) and surcharges. Of course, those taxes and surcharges are not optional; the all inclusive price? S$1,548.

What other industry allows the sticker price to be advertised with an arbitrary but mandatory element (totally 50% of the value) only added at the till? All KLM achieved was to sucker me to their website with a lie, thereby reducing brand trust and loyalty.