No refunds and no way to run a business

Is this a way to run a business — even a struggling one?

Travelers who paid up to $199 a year to have access to Clear’s paid security lines at Hartsfield-Jackson International and other airports are not in line to get refunds any time soon, AJC staff writer Kelly Yamanouchi is reporting.

So, there won’t be any faster access to flights for frequent business travelers, who’ll be flying lighter in their wallets.

Clear shut down its security lines Monday evening without warning. It said parent company, Verified Identity Pass, couldn’t get a deal with a key creditor to stay in business, Yamanouchi reports.

“At the present time, because of its financial condition, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. cannot issue refunds,” a message on its Web site said.

I imagine company officials were in negotiations with its creditor for a period of time.

I imagine they could have warned travelers that trouble was brewing.

I imagine a customer-friendly business would have done just that.

I guess I’m imagining too much.

30 comments Add your comment

ugacpa02

June 24th, 2009
10:47 am

Yeah, clearly not a great business or even a good business plan. That’s why they failed. Nothing about the aviation industry can strike the right balance between cost, convenience, and security.

Rod

June 24th, 2009
10:49 am

It was non sense from the start. Why should people be able to get in a fast lane when we are all paying taxes for the same services. Good the end of airport lexus lanes. Now on the the HOV lanes

Derek

June 24th, 2009
11:25 am

The clear lanes only caused confusion at the airport and didn’t provide any real advantage when the issue isn’t the lines, it’s the morons that TSA hires to snooze, I mean “screen” passengers and carry on baggage.

Bravedawg

June 24th, 2009
12:16 pm

First, the things on which I agree with you:

It stinks that customers won’t get refunds
It’s bad business to not issue refunds
They were in negotiations with creditors for awhile

However, I don’t know that they could have (or should have) told their customers that they were failing. What would be the message? If they told everyone that they weren’t doing well, potential customers would not buy their product. And while, with the benefit of hindsight, we can now say that would’ve been a good thing for consumers, at the time (during negotiations) Clear, I would have to assume, wasn’t certain that they were shutting down (because they were still in negotiations). So, I don’t think it would’ve made any sense for them to tell customers that they were failing…

But again, I think it stinks that they won’t issue refunds. I would hate that if I was someone who just bought a membership 2 months ago and hadn’t gotten my money’s worth yet. But at the same time, it’s logical – they went out of business because they ran out of money; so it would only follow that they wouldn’t issue refunds, because they don’t have any money!

Tyree

June 24th, 2009
12:49 pm

Maybe this company should have pursued a government hand/bailout out like so many others.

CommonSense

June 24th, 2009
1:00 pm

What’s the problem? Pay by credit card and then dispute the charge on the basis the services were not delivered.

Keisha Waites

June 24th, 2009
1:53 pm

unbelievable

Glad

June 24th, 2009
2:11 pm

It never should’ve been allowed in the first place. Though some are clearly profiled within the security guidelines, airport security should be one of the great equalizers in this country. The only folks that deserve a break are those serving in the armed forces. I’m happy to see this particular “service” GONE!!!

Maryanne

June 24th, 2009
2:13 pm

I agree with Rod…NO ONE and I mean NO ONE should get a cut in line just because they paid $199 or whatever to cut in front. It should have been a non-issue from the start. You can’t put a price on airport security. You MUST treat everyone the same-no matter if they fly first class or coach.

As to the matter of refunds,a fool and his money….

dana

June 24th, 2009
2:15 pm

I agreed with common sense and guess what VISA has already taken the charge off my card

Steve

June 24th, 2009
3:07 pm

It’s DELTA’s Fault ! ! !

JimC

June 24th, 2009
3:07 pm

I’m not making this up. My wife and I signed up for Clear online and went to the airport kiosk to be photographed, fingerprinted, and iris-scanned. Our cards came in the mail on Monday afternoon, June 22. That evening, we got emails that said Clear was out of business!

I guess we can dispute the charges on our credit card and get a charge-back.

zoe

June 24th, 2009
3:13 pm

The people that purchased Clear passes agreed to extra background checks and paid for the chance to save time when being screened. I don’t travel by air a lot and I didn’t buy a clear pass. I grew up on the border between Canada and the states. There are many people that live on one side of the border and work on the other. To facilitate travel between the two countries, NEXUS was created by customs and immigration, this allowed people to be prescreened and go between the two borders more quickly. NEXUS works for border crossings the way Clear worked for airports and I don’t hear anyone living along the border complaining that the NEXUS lanes at the border are really “Lexus” lanes. As someone who has sat in a car at customs for a half hour to an hour dozens of time, if I still lived along the border, I would definitely invest in a NEXUS pass. What is the difference between NEXUS and Clear? People were willing to pay a premium to be prescreened to move through the lines faster.

GreatGal

June 24th, 2009
3:28 pm

Goodie for those “gotta be first” idiots who jumped at this gimmick…another way for the airline industry to take your money and keep it. Dummies–or shall I say, SUCKERS!

I’m with Maryann..a fool and his money, his big truck and little BRAINS!

john q

June 24th, 2009
3:30 pm

fast lane shmast lane, people just need to be patient and use the regular lanes

Dave

June 24th, 2009
3:31 pm

Do the folks who signed up for Clear feel secure with their biometric data in the hands of a bankrupt company? That would concern me more than losing a mere $199.

Roger Salz

June 24th, 2009
3:51 pm

I think the TSA should make accommodations for frequent “known” travelers as doing so might enable faster processing. People that travel often shouldn’t need to go through long lines, hassles, body searches etc….if they are properly pre-screened. I agree with those before me that the priority shouldn’t be given to someone who forked out $199. But for someone who flies once or twice a week….they should be given a break just as airline crew members do.

GreatGal

June 24th, 2009
3:55 pm

Frequent Flyers DO have a separate line that they can take, Gold, Medallion and Platinum–that’s just it, they are “Frequent Flyers.” This Clear crap is for the idiot that never flies and just wants to speed through the security for the two flights he takes a year.

Frequent Flyer

June 24th, 2009
4:02 pm

To those of you that think no one should be allowed to pay to skip to the front of the line; stop the hate. Frequent flyers are not just rich people that fly out on vacation to the Caribbean every day. These are people who have jobs that require them to travel. The Clear lanes allowed them some certainty in their schedule so they didn’t have to get to the airport 3 hours in advance every week when they fly out. That allows them more time with their families or for their job.

Maybe if all you plebian dimwits out there could figure out to take the change out of your pocket when you first get to the airport isntead of right when you get to the x-ray machine, and pack your shampoo bottles in your checked bags, then this service wouldn’t even have been necessary.

Frequent Flyer

June 24th, 2009
4:06 pm

To “GreatGal”,

You no longer have to be a Delta Medallion to use the frequent flyer security checkpoint. Hartsfield took that away when they went to the Expert, Intermediate, and Family screening lines. So what argument do you have left that real frequent flyers shouldn’t be allowed to pay a fee for an extensive background check to avoid the hassle?

Yerfdog

June 24th, 2009
4:09 pm

It is not surprising to me that they have had financial challenges. I always question why it took 6 people to help me get to the right security lane. It always seemed that there were more Clear employees than passengers in the Clear lanes. It was a flawed business model to start with.

Sandra Brown

June 24th, 2009
4:11 pm

This really stinks. I recently got my card (about 2 months ago). It would have been nice for them to inform us of the situation. Now I’m out of $199.00 and have only used the card a couple of times, not enough to get $199 worth of use. Refunds are in order. This is bad business!!!!! It makes it hard to trust businesses!

GreatGal

June 24th, 2009
4:16 pm

Dear Frequent Flyer:

Thanks for the clarification. Did you send them your $199 to pay your way to the front too? Actually, I don’t have an argument. Just a comment which I already stated.

Frequent Flyer

June 24th, 2009
4:46 pm

To “GreatGal”,

I did not pay for Clear. I do my best to fly on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the lines are almost non-existent. I wouldn’t ever pay for this service, but I’ll defend the people that do as I understand what they go through on a weekly basis.

Former Frequent Flyer

June 24th, 2009
4:53 pm

This is just another example of corporate thief… take customers money and don’t delivery any service. This is so corporate America. Was Bernard Madoff running this company also?

Hawk

June 24th, 2009
6:21 pm

GreatGal: Take some Valium and chill out. Practice chanting “Yes we can.”

Jody

June 24th, 2009
7:04 pm

I work for a major aerospace firm and they would not pay for Clear, saying that the business case had not been proven yet. Since I didn’t feel like spending $199 of my own money to help my company make me productive by not sitting in the airport forever, I never signed up. It would not have been a good investment, especially in Atlanta where the Clear passengers shared the bulk of the wait in line with us anyway. All they had to do was skip the TSA show your id stand. Atlanta is doing a much better job about herding us all through the security line, making sure that none of us are special and believe it or not, things are moving faster. Now, if they would just be clearer on the instructions at the head of the line, people might move even faster. For example, I carry a small(7″)portable DVD player with me and up until recently, there were not clear instructions that you had to take them out of your bag. Some airports made me take it out, some didn’t. Now I always take it out so that I don’t get hassled, but I swear, I went through the security line in ATL 3 weeks in a row and got a different answer each time. Standardization is key here.

juan

June 24th, 2009
9:06 pm

I am a member of clear. I was very happy with the service and the wonderful customer service. I travel once a week, the smiling representatives used my name while they checked you in, which seldom happens in professional business anymore. I am disappointed they closed, but mroe disappointed that no effort is made to reimburse the customers. What kind of business can just “take your money” and provide no service. The 260,000 Clear members need to shout loudly and get in line for refunds, especially members who just signed up. As for the personal information, the website states they will comply with TSA security regulations and destroy the information. Worried? for the right price, anyone can go on line and get all your personal information via the internet.

JJMo

June 25th, 2009
10:06 am

Get back in line with the unwashed. Boo hoo.

starbuck

June 25th, 2009
11:01 am

What Clear & Verified Identity Pass, Inc. have done is RUIN it for any other company in the future that wants to offer this or similar service. NO ONE will sign-up for service like this because of how they handled this. This idea is done…