We live in a technological age dominated by the computer. Mobile phones evolved into hand held computers and virtually everyone in the western world owns one. Thanks to the Internet, humans can do just about anything online and web sites cater for this demand.

There is a term called GIGO in IT which stands for “garbage in, garbage out”. As perfect as technology is, it is only as good as the information entered into it and humans are responsible for any errors. This leads me to the question – is it right to benefit from computer mistakes?

Yes, of course!

The biggest goal of a frequent flyer is to hear about a mistake fare, book it and then have it honoured by the airline. A few years ago, Etihad mistakenly offered flights for $187 between New York and Abu Dhabi with connections as low as $277. Word spread like wildfire and many people booked the tickets.

Happily, Etihad honoured the fare and people were able to travel. There have been other instances where the fares have been honoured and some instances where they have not. It is purely a decision made by the company depending on the situation.

Frequent flyer programmes are computerised and there are reports where people have received too many frequent flyer miles or too many tier credits for a particular flight. Advice from people on Internet forums is to keep quiet when there is a computer mistake in your favour and enjoy the benefits.

The vast majority of people would probably agree with this. After all, who in their right mind will call their airline or whomever to report you just got something for nothing?

No, it is not right!

Interestingly, many of the people who are first to crow about taking advantage of an error in their favour are also the first to squeal like a stuck pig when they are short changed in any way.

When frequent flyer points post incorrectly, what do you do? You contact the airline and demand that the missing points be reinstated. Any kind of overcharge is charged back or disputed directly with the travel provider. The age of the customer is always right means they’re not only right, but can also happily enjoy any errors in their favour and sit back and reap the benefits.

Surely this a double standard that should be stamped out? Accidental computer errors benefiting consumers should be reversed. Mistake fares should be cancelled. Over awarding of miles should be reversed.

It’s only right as consumers are allowed to return or dispute any errors made the other way. Isn’t it?

Overall Thoughts

Companies are in a lose-lose situation here. Accidentally load a mistake fare into a computer or award extra miles by accident and you are doomed. Any attempt to cancel or reverse this will results in a consumer backlash and loss of goodwill. By comparison, accidentally over charge or have a problem delivering an advertised product and you have to pay for it. The customer is king! What do you think?

Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below!

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Featured image by Sai Kiran Anagani via Unsplash