Thursday, March 5, 2009

The travel industry is anti-competitive!

We all know what they're doing, but somehow we decide to just put up with it!

I'm talking about the seemingly random, certainly unjustifiable fees that car rental agencies, airlines, and hotels add to the price of their products.

Case in point: I rented a car for our upcoming March Break trip to Florida. The "quote" was $300, but by the time I got to the online checkout, the total was $425. A SMALL part of that extra $125 was tax. The rest was a ridiculous collection of fees that allow them to get the price they really want.

"Airport concession fee": $30 - WHAT?!
"Energy recovery fee": $7 - WHAT?!
"Fees": $47 - ARE YOU KIDDING?!

The last one bothers me the most. There's no explanation!!! Just "Fees". As best as I can tell, that's their way of getting the price they really wanted, instead of the price they advertise.

It's just wrong.

Imagine going to a clothing store, picking out a pair of $50 jeans, then taking them to the cashier who proceeds to tell you the cost is $70 plus tax. "Where did the other $20 come from?" you would most certainly ask. Then imagine that the cashier has no explanation! You'd leave them on the counter and go to another store!

My initial thought was that this was the company's way of staying competitive in a commodity industry (a car is a car, essentially, when you're renting). They needed to offer an initial price of $300 to make me consider that rental as an option. At first I thought the move was uber-competitive. In fact, it's ANTI-COMPETITIVE since they're all doing it! I can't leave the rental 'on the counter' and go somewhere else because they're all doing it.

That's collusion.

That's anti-competitive.

That's wrong.

Any lobbyists out there with the time to take this all the way?!

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