It's almost as if the Clear employee sending the mass email knew that already they were working for free and couldn't wait to go home and enter the sour embrace of unemployment. The LA Times states that Clear claimed, as of June 4, to have "enrolled more than 260,000 fliers, mostly business and frequent travelers, who agreed to be vetted by the government and pay the annual fee in return for access to special airport security lanes."
Beginning approximately two years ago, Clear initially charged only $99 to sign up for their expedient security lane service, as they had occupied few airports at the time. The (up til yesterday) going rate had risen to $199, or $179 renewals for members. Preposterous!
And now for the juicyness: We had a Clear card from the $99 days, which we used exactly 3 times. It expired in March of this year, and we received much mail and email communication requesting our credit card information for renewal, as they claimed they didn't have it. Perhaps they went bankrupt from buying all those envelopes to send us crap mailwe kid.
In any case, two weeks ago we received an email that they had magically found our credit card information and charged us the $179 renewal fee. We were at lunch at the time, and we politely excused ourselves from the table and headed outside to make the call to rip Clear a new one. Which we did, and they refunded us (hopefully).
At least we aren't poor Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, who was just yesterday approved for his Clear card and must now fight to regain his $200 spent on the cursed thing.
So here's how we guessed at the rumblings at Clear before they even knew themselves:
1. Serious issues with organizing credit card information and lack of communication with members over automatic renewal (our issue).
2. They recently offered Starwood Preferred Guests a free 6-month trial membership that looked too good to be true
3. Massive price inflation over the period of one year, when they still hadn't put lanes in our most-used airports (Las Vegas-McCarran, and T5/T6 at JFK, for example).
4. Outrageous amount of junk paper mail. It was like a magazine wanted us to renew, but worse. This company had all of our passport information and yet mailed us more junk than should any company who prides themselves on being technologically hip.
5. Dwindling appeal. The press buzz had gone, prices were raised, and we were always (all three times) met with surprise at Clear lanes because we were both youngish and female. This led us to believe that most Clear members were crotchety old male business travelers gifted with the card by their personal assistants.
We're deeply sorry for everyone sitting on a useless Clear card now, and we need to check our bank statement for that refund post haste. Class-action lawsuits are no doubt on their way, and members will want to know what will come of their personal data. Clear already lost one of their laptops at SFO last year; how can we guarantee the obliteration of our data?
So many questions and so few answersright now. Please let us know about your Clear experience in the comments, and how you think this situation with the data and customers needing refunds will play out.
· Registered traveler flier pass vendor Clear shuts down [LA Times]
· Clear Card Coverage [Jaunted]