It is true, most airlines only accept credit cards and you hear very little about it until a lawyer gets embarrassed on a flight. While airlines are looking for more ways to create revenue under the guise of convenience for travelers, the cash question creates debate. With the advent of newer technologies to accept payment, cash may be an inconvenient victim.
While it is a great thing that airlines accept credit cards during flight, some wonder why cash is looked upon more harshly than a crying baby in first class. Most people take getting abused by an airline in stride but if you have had the experience of suffering through 3 years of law school, the sentence makes you want to fight back when poked. Such is the case of an attorney aboard a recent Continental flight from New York to Hawaii who, along with some bad luck, get a little customer no service from the airline.
Cash Gets Grounded!
It started when this guy tried to use a pair of headphones he bought on an earlier flight but they did not work. His solution was to buy a new set in flight so he could endure the 10 hour flight with some entertainment. Unfortunately for our friend in this story, he checked his credit cards with his luggage and only had cash on hand. Normally you would think this wouldn’t be a problem but since Continental only accepts credit cards in flight, the attorney decided to make a Federal Case out of it. Literally!
A lawsuit has been filed against Continental as a result of the incident. The proper solution here would have been for the Flight crew to just quietly give this passenger a free set of headphones due to the fact he was willing to pay for them but could not use United States Currency to do so because of Continental’s Policy. It would have been no big deal and anyone with a brain should have employed some problem solving skills and made this incident go away.
But Continental messed with the wrong guy and now we have a frivolous lawsuit on our hands. The said attorney has every right to sue and probably felt the whole incident was ridiculous. He should have been given some headphones for the flight but instead had to stew in his own anger for 10 hours. But the truth is that no merchant has to accept cash. It turns out that bank notes, U.S. dollars, are legal tender to repay a debt. Technically, if you are a merchant and not a lender, then you do not have to accept them.
In this case, our attorney was trying to purchase the headphones and not repay a debt to the airline. Pretty weak argument but it is true. The reason airlines accept credit cards in flight is to make it easier on the flight crew. With no cash changing hands there is no need for simple accounting such as making change or logging sales. Today’s merchant accounts make these transactions simple and passengers can even receive receipts by email. It is pretty darn convenient.
The real point here is not that the airlines only want to accept credit cards, it is that no matter what form of technology is used in service industries, merchants need to remember who they are serving. Customer service is very important to small businesses and big business needs to take note. The only way customers can be heard is to take there money elsewhere and in this case I would imagine that Continental has lost a customer forever.