I recently signed up for a Southwest Airlines credit card. I fell for the sweet advertisement in the in-flight magazine. What can I say – I was a captive audience for three hours on a flight from Austin to Baltimore. To be fair, I also really enjoyed my flight and wanted to build up miles on Southwest so I would fly it more. The best part was the flight attendant, who got on the loud speaker and sang a little ditty when we arrived late. It was silly, irreverent and the most human response to a flight delay that I have experienced.
This all changed when I got the credit card a week ago and was totally stunned by a $60 annual fee.
I found the original in-flight advertisement and re-read it. Yes, it did indicate that there was a low annual fee. But they never mentioned exactly how much it was. How can you sell a product without telling someone the price? Instead, we are expected to guess at the definition of a low fee. Call me old-fashioned (or naïve) but I do not believe that $60 is a low fee.
Most of this is my fault. I should have been more skeptical. Still, I was depressed by Southwest’s response to my complaints. They blamed it all on Chase Bank (the card sponsor), explaining that they did not control Chase’s language in their advertisements. But my guess is that Southwest receives a pretty penny for that advertisement (which features the Southwest logo as prominently as the Chase one). They also probably get something out of the credit card deal with Chase.
I don’t know why this makes me so sad and angry. Coming off two years of business school, I should be familiar with this stuff. I blame the singing flight attendant. I was so touched by her actions that I started to care. I just can’t believe that she would be okay with this.