The lab rat type experimentation around customer experience within the major airline carriers and banks continues at a pace. Draw your own conclusions. United spells it out:
"As part of the moves, announced Friday, United will offer customers a 20% discount on the fee to check a first bag when they pay for it online between Monday and Jan. 31. The fee to check a second bag will remain $25, despite the airline's mid-September announcement that the fee would double for travel beginning Monday."
Notwithstanding the fact that these kind of actions reinforce the stereotype that competitors like Southwest like to paint, the practical experience of navigating a fee structure that includes fuel surcharges (if it's a surcharge can I opt out please?) and a 20% discount on a first bag (depending on the dates) ... it's Kafka meets the Wright brothers.
At least the airlines are somewhat transparent. Banks tend to be more opaque. But the message is the same - retail banks are working overtime to find ways to levy fees, and not all of them will be easy to follow. Expect a fair number of free checking deals with and asterisk next to it. Or perhaps a couple.
Recessions create winners and losers. The economic choices that companies make right now will have a profound impact on their long term customer relationships and growth. Watch this space, the experiments will get played out over the next 3-5 years.