Cnet’s Greg Sandoval has a good story on use of “loyalty” programs by Orbitz and Buy.com-which are basically attempts to get you to sign up for services that charge you monthly fees as you check out during the buying process. A meaningful number of shoppers apparently sign up for these services by accident, and the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is investigating some of the companies that provide them. Good.
I wrote a few months ago about my own personal gripe with Orbitz, which kept tacking charges onto my ticket for things I hadn’t asked for–that I think should be illegal, period. Of course, both Orbitz and Buy.com say they provide the “loyalty” services because they think customers want them, and they say very few people complain. But maybe one of the lessons here is that online check-out transactions should be streamlined and distraction-free, period. (Amazon.com’s shopping experience can be cluttered, but once you pay up, it does a good job of making it simple.)