Should companies break their own rules? Yes, and here’s when …

Andresr/Shutterstock
Andresr/Shutterstock

Last week, when I suggested that consumers should sometimes apologize to a company, a few of you thought I had completely lost it.

You believed I’d gone soft or turned into a corporate shill — or both — for suggesting that sometimes you should apologize to a business.

So today, in the interest of fairness, I’ll look at the flip side: when companies should offer a no-questions-asked refund on a product, even though they aren’t required to.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Vermont and the University of Iowa found that retailers with restrictive exchange policies may be losing potential business, a finding that should find some traction among highly competitive businesses.
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Why don’t we end the silly rules that make flying a misery?

Anatoliy Lukich / Shutterstock.com
Anatoliy Lukich / Shutterstock.com
When it comes to air travel, there’s a growing rift between informed and uninformed passengers.

I see it every day. A reader contacts me asking for help with a refund on a nonrefundable airline ticket or to change the name on an unchangeable reservation or to get their expired airline miles unexpired. Common sense tells you it shouldn’t be a problem. But spend a little bit of time studying the rules, and you’d know it is.

Ah, rules. They’re dense, cryptic, wrapped in legalese. But they do not apply to all customers.

A small subset of air travelers has taken the time to obsessively study every restriction, paragraph and clause. They often spend hours figuring out a creative way around those silly roadblocks that are meant to extract more money from customers. They get “free” airline tickets, as they did last week. That doesn’t make these “hackers” better or more deserving of the preferred treatment they get — they’re just better-informed.
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Changing the rules of engagement (for the better, let’s hope)

Lurii/Shutterstock
Lurii/Shutterstock

It’s been an interesting few months for this site. Late last year we introduced a crew of volunteer moderators and a few simple rules of engagement.

But like everything else, both the rules and the roles played by the moderators evolved.

Today, I’m proposing to clarify some of the rules of engagement and to more clearly define what the moderators do.

Until now, we’ve had a very succinct comment policy and no real definition of moderator duties.
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3 surprises lurking in your airfare — bet you don’t know what they are

Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock
Joseph Hanus/Shutterstock

Your airline ticket isn’t what it seems to be.

I’m reminded of that whenever I hear from readers like Heidi Fox. Her husband tried to switch his United Airlines ticket from Chicago to Orlando to an earlier flight on the same day, and an airline representative assured him he’d only have to pay a $75 change fee.

But what the rep apparently didn’t say is that Fox’s husband would have to shell out a $744 fare difference, too.

“It was only after he received the emailed receipt that he was made aware of the $744 cost differential,” she says.
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New rules for airline fees are a partial victory for travelers

If airfares confuse you as much as they confuse me, then I have some good news: Several new rules are going to make it easier to calculate the total cost of a ticket.

Maybe.

Starting Jan. 26, a new U.S. Transportation Department rule will require airlines to include all taxes and fees in their advertised fares. Other provisions of the rule — banning post-purchase price increases and allowing passengers to hold certain reservations without payment or to cancel them without penalty for 24 hours after booking — will take effect Jan. 24.
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