Fly FU Air

Over at Seeking Alpha, where they reposted my recent rant about airlines, there’s a classic example of industry insiders in denial bitching at me: How dare I expect decent, civilized service. Water? You want water? Sit down and shut up. This is exactly the same reaction I get from whining real estate agents every time I dare to question whether I get 6 percent’s worth of value for the service they don’t provide. Head, meet sand, insert. It’s going to be fun watching them self-destruct. Couldn’t happen to better industries. Except perhaps cable and other protected monopolies and oligopolies. Bye-bye now. Bye-bye.

  • Cable isn’t a protected monopoly. My wife refers to the day we “fired” Comcast as the happiest day in her life. (Our wedding day is apparently somewhat lower on the list, and we’ve got a good marriage.)

    We switched to DISH network, (and now have DirecTV, because there is a BIG difference between TiVO and just a PVR.)

    They also have competition from network websites, local newspaper and TV station websites, YouTube, Blockbuster and Netflix, and from torrents. Also from bowling leagues and bass boats.

    And if you really miss Comcast’s customer service, you can always call your mother-in-law on the phone….

  • Jeff,

    the responses to your post remind me of the US auto industry in 70’s/80’s when the Japanese started kicking their asses. The same sort self-centered whining, self-justificatiion, feelings of entitlement, and customer-hostile attitudes were coming out of Detroit at that time. Now Chrysler is a shadow of former self, Toyota has overtaken Ford and is threatening GM. And the attitude in Detroit is much humbler than it was. One wonders how long it will take the airline industry to change.

  • Steve

    Jeff. Do your research. Seriously. Your article is the equivalent of the uninformed newspaper reporter hacking an article about the interwebs and blogging: Embarassing.

  • Steve,
    I’ve done all the research I need to do: suffering flying with these screw-the-customer companies. I’ve done all too much research, believe me.

  • Steve


    in this context, having suffered the IRS and having had to pay loads of money to them makes me qualified to rant about the tax system and how it could be improved, despite my complete lack of knowledge about economics? Wait, the Journalistic Credibility Warning Light needs adjusting, it’s flashing wildly all of a sudden.

  • The 6% you provide to real estate agents isn’t a fee for services, rather it is a toll or tax. In order to gain access to the market, you pay a fee to the guild or those who hold “letters of marque.” Also, never believe that an “agent” is “your” agent. The only interests they serve are their own and those of their guild.

    As long as multiple listing services are allowed to maintain their monopoly and as long as collusion between agents is the accepted industry norm, the situation will not improve.

    bob wyman

  • Oh, that’s a fine motto for an industry, Steve: We’re just as bad as the IRS. Wake up and smell the burning torches of customers you — I assume you’re in the industry, for why else would you defend it, though you don’t have the guts to say who you are — have screwed over the years. It takes not one bit of expertise — and not very good ears — to hear that customers hate the airline industry and for very good reason.

  • bob,
    Well put.

  • Jeff:
    It would be useful if you could square your support for anti-monopoly enforcement with your professed libertarian views in other areas.

    Most hardened libertarians don’t see any role for government, believing instead that the “market” will resolve all problems. I should amend that, they do, generally, see a role for government in protecting private property.

    So, if you have a coherent philosophy which allows for some regulation, but not other types, it would instructive to hear it. (I’m not being snide, good arguments are hard to find.)

  • Robert,
    I don’t think government is a default. However, there are places where regulation is necessary. Air travel is clearly one of them. Banking is heading back to deeper regulation because of its screwups. I would not call myself libertarian. I’m Clintonian. I believe that sometimes government is indeed necessary — as in health care — but I say it should be called upon only when necessary.

  • william elbel

    Speaking of monopolies, Why does the biggest Monopoly ever always get overlooked, even in the BuzzMachine list:
    Of course it is Bill Gates & Microsoft? Is it because he ships boatloads of condoms to Africa?

  • Microsoft gets overlooked?

    What planet are you on? MS had had tons of anti-trust actions taken against it here and abroad. And they get plenty of news coverage.

  • Steve

    Jeff, apart from flying RC airplanes and gliders, I am about as far away from working in the aviation industry as you can be. It’s just that I strongly believe in taking the other side’s point of view and trying to understand as much as possible about the internal workings.

    That said, I absolutely love flying JetBlue, because they offer better service for a better price than many other carriers I’ve flown with. Oh, and another thing: If I had any say in the matter, flight tickets should cost twice as much. Say “kerosene tax”, everybody.

  • William elbel

    For Shawn:

    What Planet are you on?

    Any other company that still controls 92% of the market would be considereda BIG Monopoly that must be cut down to size.
    Name one other industry for which it is allowed for 92% of the market to be controlled by one company.

  • JefF
    You are on fire today – great stuff

  • William,

    Having a large market share is not a crime, in and of itself. It’s how one uses that advantage fairly or unfairly that determines wether or not action should be taken against a company.

    The goal of anti-trust law is not to say “a company shall not have over X% market share”.

    It’s not Microsoft’s fault you don’t choose Apple, Linux, or some other O.S. The ability to switch platforms (especially at the consumer level) is easier than ever.

    And I’ll reiterate it, MS still subject to lots of anti-trust actions. It’s hardly being ignored.

  • William elbel

    For Shawn:

    Remember when ATT had close to 100% and they were dismembered into several parts. Why did the law force ATT dismember but not microsoft?

    Have you seen the sickening boot licking of Bill Gates in a recent Congressional hearing. He is the only one who is not abused.

  • Jeff,

    Couldnt agree more. Was delayed 2 hrs recently as a pilot explained that there was poor visibility and so he could not land at LGA.

    He assured us that he had enough fuel to “circle and make multiple attempts” and then proceeded to repeatedly dive bomb the runway! To add insult to injury, the pilot explained that he would try a few times and then just go to JFK. Eventually he landed to rapturous applause.

    Is this a new tactic to increase appreciation? You want water? We got you here alive, what else do you want!

    Maybe its time to look at a mechanism to use discontent as an indicator (via buzz and sentiment) of possible collusion, monopoly behavior and need for regulation? Hopefully the same tool can be used to spur entrepreneurs to throw their hat into the ring and find a better way.

    I’d be ready to give up flying tomorrow, alas no easy domestic alternative at the price point. Not so for cable, I think. Returned my cable box and now happily enjoy Apple TV. Gave up a little, but the enjoyment of unplugging my cable box and returning it, is priceless. I guess I just have to work harder to avoid commercial or start driving more.

    – Shaun

  • William,

    AT&T was broken up because it was using it’s local service monopoly to give itself an unfair advantage in the long distance service market.

    The Baby Bells were still monopolies, with 100% market share of their respective service areas.

  • Another example.

    Today there is only one comic book distributor in the U.S., Diamond.

    The government did investigate Diamond a few years back, and found that they were doing nothing against the law.

    (If anything is proved by this argument, it’s that sooner or later, everything comes back around to comics.) :)

  • The interesting thing that will be fun to watch is this – Jeffro did a lot to get Dell to change their customer service practices just by bitching through a megaphone that a lot of people echoed. We can take that extremely unregulated market lesson and see how it applies to an extremely regulated, not to mention fractured, market. I’m going to predict no, because the economics are pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum from a laptop, and besides, Jeff gets to fly a lot of business class.

    I agree that Jeff can be a whiny baby, but sometimes a whiny baby is right, at least in part. Me, I’m just glad I’m not trying to make a living flying whiny babies around for pennies. I just have to fly with them, and so I thank the Lord for the iPod.

  • Wilbur W

    Yeah, Jeff, they must be complete f**kheads: They disagreed with you!