Stop the checkout to save the customer money?

It is Christmas time and people are booking flights home to see family. I am no different, except I am in the fortunate position to be critical of website usability and it is for the benefit of our readers, not just belly-aching.

Situation: booking an airline ticket through my preferred airline
Scenario: I have successfully found the flights I wanted, chosen the flight options that are newly available (discounts for eliminating the option to change my itinerary after booking or no checked baggage), entered my frequent flier number, my credit card data, etc.

It wasn’t a small time investment from search to submit, but after hitting submit, I am faced with a Verified by Visa prompt. Now, I have never signed up for the service, but apparently it is mandatory before I can complete my booking. Okay, I book flights often so not a big deal…sign up for Verified by Visa and attempt to complete my purchase. Failed. A big alert on the checkout tells me the price has changed from the time I have started the checkout to the time I hit purchase. Now, it is not heartbreaking because the price was in fact lower by $40, but I did have to enter all my credit card info AGAIN…go through the verified by Visa process…AGAIN, and then confirm the purchase.

So, no big deal, I saved $40 right? Guess what happened in between. I started another browser session and begun to search for the exact same flight because I didn’t trust the prices I was now presented. Even more, I jumped out to the competitors site and started comparison shopping.

Yes, I ended up completing the purchase with the original session, but it took me much longer than anticipated, I almost bailed during checkout because they changed the price half way through (due to all the extra steps I was forced to take to clear the Verified by Visa sign up process), and I scoped the competition for their prices even though I am a very loyal frequent flier.

Bottom line, if you are going to offer me a price savings on something I have already committed to purchasing, just give it to me. Do not make me start the checkout process all over again. I can only imagine what my reaction would have been if the price had actually gone up…hello competition (just because it bugged me).

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