Back in March, I posted about Spirit Airlines’ $9 fare club, which charges a $29.95 annual fee to provide members with access to “private” sale fares, apparently as low as $9 each way. In recent weeks, I’ve been receiving multiple e-mails requesting that **I** cancel someone else’s membership in the Spirit $9 club.
Letters start like “I am being charged at $29.95 fee for membership in Spirit Club. I do not remember joining this and I need to be removed/canceled immediately.”
Huh?? Why are you asking ME? I mean, I’d love to help, but shouldn’t the question be addressed to the airline? What’s going on here?
A few web searches and clicks, and I think I’ve found the answer.
1) If you do a Google search for “Spirit Airlines $9 club” or “Spirit $9 club,” the top-ranked search result isn’t Spirit’s own page for their club. It’s this site. This post. (Interestingly, if you add the word “fare” to your search terms, such as “Spirit $9 fare club,” you actually do get the Spirit Airlines website. The quirks of Google!)
But surely people can see from the content of that post that Upgrade: Travel Better is not the same as Spirit Airlines? For pete’s sake, the post even skeptically suggests that you shouldn’t waste your money on their club membership. I guess people don’t read.
2) More importantly, why are so many people complaining about memberships that they say they didn’t purchase? Is Spirit automatically signing people up for this club without their consent?
Again, it seems that people don’t read. Here’s what I think is happening:
If you go to the Spirit Airlines website and select flights for purchase, you get a summary page that presents your selected itinerary. On that page, there is also the following text:
Aha! The dreaded opt-out. If you don’t uncheck the boxes, you automatically buy travel insurance and join the $9 club, which automatically renews for $29.95 a year. Very sneaky, questionably ethical, and clearly designed to prey on the folks who don’t read things carefully — the same people who don’t notice that this site isn’t Spirit Airlines.
So, what do you do if you were careless and signed up for the $9 club? You can certainly cancel, but you may be out of luck in getting a refund. The terms and conditions of the $9 club state:
1.3. A Member may cancel his or her membership in the Club at any time by selecting the unsubscribe option within their FREE SPIRIT account profile …
3.2. After 3 months after initial enrollment in the Club, and on each anniversary thereafter, Members will be automatically charged an annual fee of $29.95 for membership in the Club. Annual fees are non-refundable, notwithstanding Member’s cancellation of membership in the Club.
3.5. A Member will not be entitled to any refund of any membership fees upon cancellation of membership in the Club.
By forcing people to opt out, instead of opting in, to join the club, and by then making refunds impossible, it’s clear that those club memberships are designed to be pure profit, preying on the careless. Classy as always, Spirit!
Disgruntled club members may not get a refund, but should be sure to follow the instructions above and cancel their memberships. But I’m afraid I can’t help anyone do that.