A few days back I was booking myself tickets for return to Chennai. As always I opened makemytrip.com and looked up options. Amongst the suitable options were three: Jetlite, SpiceJet, Kingfisher. All three almost offering almost the same rates! No not really – there was one exception!
Kingfisher had a figure 2000/- next to the price! While I wondered and looked up more closely if I had missed a large discount – I was startled at the offer. The message said that if the flight was cancelled, they would give back 2000/- in addition to the cost of the ticket. It was supposed to be an assurance that the flight would take-off and the 2000/- was their way of luring the passengers .The alternative to this was a paltry Rs 100/- off on SpiceJet’s flight.
My immediate reaction was to reach for the bigger value offer (!!!) Kingfisher – as my mind was weighing what my eyes were seeing: Rs 2000 Vs Rs 100. But then rationality did take over. What would it mean to book on Kingfisher? It meant I will benefit additionally if the flight does not take-off, but I pay the full price for it to take-off. But why will I not want the flight to take-off? My very essence of booking the ticket is with the belief that the flight will take-off on time and land safely.
So I booked SpiceJet, received the Rs 100/ rupees discount on the ticket and also watched the Kingfisher flight take-off with some people losing 2000/- notionally!
Isn’t this similar to so many attractive ‘cash back’ schemes – return the product if you are not happy – we will pay you the money back. Is that a rational argument to make someone buy? Why would I invest money to buy a product with the feeling that if it fails I will be financially compensated / rewarded? Except in some special cases where an absolutely new product whose use / need is not realized (that too as a test case) such schemes will help and sound rational. But in most other cases – it makes no meaning! Either we have lost our perception of value or the companies have started truly compromising on values to lure customers.
As consumers what do we look for – performance guarantee or failure compensation promises?
Are we so irrational towards value or are we being taken for a ride?