Justices to hear frequent flier/frequent complainer case

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Newscience, Nov 30, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Justices to hear frequent flier/frequent complainer case

    By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
    updated 3:25 PM EST, Fri November 29, 2013
    Washington (CNN) -- The case of a frequent flier labeled a "frequent complainer" by one airline will soon get a Supreme Court review, testing consumer rights against corporate prerogatives.
    The justices will hold an hour of oral arguments Tuesday.
    Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg claims his WorldPerks Platinum Elite membership was revoked after being told he had "abused" his privileges, repeatedly filing complaints for upgrades and other benefits...

    See the full story here:

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/29/justice/scotus-frequent-flier-suit/
     
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  2. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    I hope he wins the case, although complaining about 10% of the flights you take is truly a bit absurd. I would have no problem with them cancelling his membership, but they have basically stolen miles that he earned and that is absolutely wrong and if upheld could be detrimental to all of us who belong to ff programs.
     
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  3. karung99
    Original Member

    karung99 Gold Member

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    I am not sure Supreme Court need to hear this case, there a lot more important issue to take care.
    Just my 2 cents.
     
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  4. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Unfortunately I have to hope he loses and they side with the airline. Under the terms and conditions of their program, it's pretty clear that Northwest could terminate a member's account for any reason. That is an INSANE amount of compensation for only eight months. At 2cpm that's nearly $4000 in total compensation. It doesn't list any reason other than the delayed bags, but if nine of those complaints were something as simple as bags... and noting that this is "delayed arrival at the baggage claim" not "lost for a day" per the article. The letter from Northwest also notes that he was requesting compensation, not merely being provided it of good will.

    What I am mildly curious about is whether he continues to complain about every flight on various carriers.

    However at the end of the day... The Supreme Court. REALLY!?!?!?! Hardly a good use of their time.
     
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  5. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    Ditto.

    I'd bet he does. If someone's doing something and it's chronic, they're not just going to stop all of a sudden.
     
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  6. FetePerfection
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    FetePerfection Silver Member

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    What does Dr Phil say...past behavior is an indicator of future behavior? Btw, THIS guy is my neighbor. So now I have a connection to a frequent complainer AND the Tweeter Elan - I should start keeping better company.
     
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  7. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Silver Member

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    Here I thought that I was a complainer... Guess that 5 "nasty-grams" over 35 years, and just short of a million miles on UA, is nothing. BTW - in that time, I have written 3 letters of commendation, so maybe that will be MY saving grace?
     
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  8. Desidivo

    Desidivo Silver Member

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    I use to work for a Telco many moons ago in customer care. If the normal escalations did not resolve the cases, they would end up on my desk. While a few were legit and I would bend over backwards for those customers. Most were people trying to get months of free service for an outage of a few minutes. Once I had a case in which a lady had figured out that if she called at the end of the month and complained, an agent would just give her a free month of service. Finally one of the agents decided he was not going to give anything and it ended up on desk. After looking at her account, I saw she had not paid in over 2 years. She said she was going to cancel her service if she did not get a free month. I canceled her account on the spot. She called trying to get the account turned back on, but I had it locked. Once people learn how to game the system, they try to do it as much as possible.
     
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  9. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Indeed. ;)
     
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  10. LETTERBOY
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    LETTERBOY Gold Member

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    Reminds me of people who keep calling banks and threatening to cancel their card if the annual fee isn't waived or if they don't get some miles/points.
     
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  11. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    It's important to realize what the issue is in this case -- it's not the Rabbi or his frequent complaining (or not, as the case may be). Nor is it a question of whether the Rabbi is right or wrong. The issue is whether the (Federal) ADA precludes a passenger from invoking state Consumer Protection laws against an airline with respect to their frequent flyer program.

    Since that's the law the airlines like to urge prevents frequent flyers from using state consumer protection laws to obtain relief when the airline suddenly devalues miles or otherwise "enhances" their program to our detriment without grandfathering miles already earned, I would suggest we frequent flyers should hope the Supremes tell the airlines that they are not immune from state consumer protection laws -- after all, those laws were instituted to protect the consumer against overreaching by large corporations.

    There has been no decision on the merits of whether the airline overreacted, whether they can take a person's miles just because they decide to, or whether they acted appropriately -- the airline has said the case (and the Rabbi) cannot be heard in the first place, and the Supreme Court now will decide whether that's a correct interpretation of the ADA. If they decide it is not, that doesn't mean the Rabbi wins anything except the right to have his case decided by the lower court on the factual merits. He could easily win in the Supreme Court, and still lose on the merits.
     
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  12. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    Well the rabbi's plight is likely not something the court should care about, but the underlying issues are unsettled and the precedent will clarify certain points of law. The Supreme Court receives thousands of petitions for certiorari, but grants perhaps 100 - 120 petitions per year - I presume they thought there was a particularly important issue to be heard. Whether the rabbi is made happy or not matters little - but why he is made happy or not may be quite profound.
     
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  13. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    This. I don't personally have much sympathy for the rabbi (who does sound like a chronic complainer), but I do think it's important to establish whether or not any consumer protections apply to miles/points programs. After all, those miles and points are often being earned at the expense of receiving cash back, so they are not free.
     
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  14. nacho

    nacho Silver Member

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    My thoughts about this:

    NW is not obliged to give you anything when you complain;
    If they gave it to you, then they shouldn't 'retaliate' by closing your account and take back what they gave you + the miles you earned.

    The lady wanted free month - that's a joke, why would all those CS keep letting her having that for 2 years? Something is wrong - not the lady but the management of that company;

    The waiving card fee thing - I don't see any reason not to do it - once again banks can just say no. AFAIK banks earn $ when you use your CC - so there is something for them when you have their credit card.
     
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  15. Garp74

    Garp74 Gold Member

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    The case was argued orally yesterday morning. A few comments from someone who has been following the Court closely for 9 years but is not a lawyer:

    -Northwest Airlines was able to get Paul Clement to represent their claim. Clement is the finest practitioner in the Supreme Court bar at present. He's a true master at the lectern and WILL become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court during the next Republican administration. (If you're wondering, Sri Srinivasian will be the next Democratic nominee.)

    -The reason the Court took this case is because the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit -- based in SFO and as liberal and whacky as any Circuit a Court in the land -- mis-applied basic contract law as it relates to the Airline Deregulation Act. Rabbi Ginsberg does not have federal consumer protection rights here, rights the Ninth Circuit erroneously gave him. The federal law (ADA - Airline a Deregulation Act) clearly surrenders those rights in favor of state law, and does so purposefully (it's one of the main reasons Congress passed the law).

    -It is clear to me after yesterday's oral arguments that not only Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito will reverse and remand, but so too will Ginsburg. In technocratic cases, where Ginsburg goes so too does most of the liberal wing. It's possible this will be 9-0 for Northwest Airlines.
     
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