Saturday, September 22, 2012

Is the United Explorer Card Worth It?

Last December while connecting between flights at the Chicago O'Hare Airport, I decided to get the highly advertised United/Chase Explorer credit card. United Airlines had been promoting its new credit card like crazy and the benefits sounded good: priority boarding, 2 passes to the United Club Room per year, no annual fee for the first year ($95 after that), first checked bag for free, and lots of bonus miles. Unfortunately, as with most things, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

To make a long story short, none of the card's benefits worked out as I expected. The free passes to the United Club Room never arrived (when I called United last March, they assured me the free passes would arrive soon), priority boarding meant being assigned to Group 4 boarding, and the free checked bag wasn't automatic; it always involved a long discourse with the airline agent at check-in.

So rather than face a $95 annual fee, I recently called United/Chase and canceled the card. However, what surprised me the most was the attitude taken by United/Chase. There was no sincere apology, no attempt to rectify a wrong, and no enticement for me to continue with card, i.e., a waiver of next year's $95 annual fee due to my inconvenience. (BTW: The United Club Room passes arrived 2 days after I canceled the card.)

If only companies would invest as much money in their product as in their advertising campaigns. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,
"If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the wood."
In other words, good products sell themselves and poor products need lots of advertising. I won't be taken in by United Airlines again. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. 

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