Was watching the BBC’s Fast Track the other day when an item came up which intrigued me. It was about a r Jack Vroom who has officially been banned from flying with American Airlines. And no, he didn’t do anything wrong, i.e. he didn’t get drunk and disorderly, he didn’t threaten the staff, be rude to his fellow passengers, or complain about the food.
All Mr. Vroom did was to make use of the Lifetime Business Class membership that he bought many many years ago for a half a million dollars.
Problem? Well, yes. Mr. Vroom apparently has used this to its fullest clocking up about 38 million air miles on their airpass programme. This golden ticket entitled him to fly with a companion on any of their worldwide flights around the world at any time. Now however the airline is experiencing difficulties is in liquidation and they think it’s time Mr. Vroom stopped flying. He was quite surprised on landing at one or other destination to find that his ticket, bought in good faith many years ago has now been suspended.
Well, seems all those years ago nobody asked Mr. Vroom how long he intended using this membership, nor did they place a ceiling on the number of times that he could use it. They were only too happy to accept his half million dollars back then, because it was worth a fortune. And apparently he isn’t the only one. There are a few more like him who are also irate and steaming at this treatment. Meanwhile, Mr. Vroom is taking legal action, but this is going to take a long time to reach finality as American Airlines is in liquidation and until they sort out their financial woes, Mr. Vroom’s problem is on the back burner.
Now the reason this tweaked my interest was because to a much smaller degress, in fact, it would be fairer to say to a minute degree I too was a victim of this lifetime membership problem. A million years ago (or so it feels) I joined a cat club, taking out a lifetime membership. Twenty five yers down the line I was asked if I wouldn’t please take out a new subscription and ay in some more because, costs had escalated so much it was costing them money to still have me as a member! My answer? Take your ‘lifetime membership” and put it wherever you would like to do (my ladylike instincts prevented me from saying exactly where…).
And then some yers later my husband fell victim to the same thing. A membership of a lifetime taken out with his old alma mater brought a similar plea. The excuse there was that he had joined when it was ‘very cheap’ and he had really got his money’s worth, so now it was time he upped his fee to keep in step with modern costs. His answer: No way! He maintains, and rightly so, I think, that if they had invested and used his money wisely they should have had enough to cover present day costs and if they charged a relevant fee now, the new members should be subsidising the costs to the older members who are still there.
May be I am barking up the wrong tree, maybe I have my thinking wrong, but the reason one buys ‘lifetime’ rights or membership, is exactly that, for a lifetime It’s too bad if you get run over by a bus the following week (well for you that is) and too bad if you live to be a hundred and three for the institution, company, airline or union.
Then there is the question of ‘lifetime’ guarantees on products. Tupperware was a great one for that. Buy Tupperware, it has a ‘lifetime guarantee’ unlike the cheaper supermarket plastic products. Well, in the early days I bought these ‘superior’ products. Some years down the line the lids showed signs of wear and tear, crackign adn breaking. When I tried to return them, I was given the Spanish inquisition, about how I had handled them, how I had washed them, stored them, or whatever else I could have done to them. Then came the answers, sorry they couldn’t help me with these items because the lines had beeen ‘discontinued’. Well, well, well. The only reason I had ‘discontinued’ using them was because the lids with their ;lifetime guarantee’ were faulty.
And so it goes. People are suckered in time after time like this and we do nothing about it. Makes me wonder what does a ‘lifetime’ actually mean? Seemingly nothing in business parlance.
So good luck to Mr. Vroom. I hope that he wins his case. In my opinion he deserves to do so.
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