Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
It's such a temptation.
You suddenly realize your customers are captive.
You've created a service they have to use.
They don't necessarily like it, but they know they should just grin, bear it, and whine about it to their friends.
No, I'm not specifically talking about Facebook, the brand with insufficient competition and a remarkable dearth of scruples.
Instead, let's pay homage to the Transportation Security Administration.
It has two ations for our nation. A third, for some, is exasperation.
People stand in line. They allow the TSA to take pictures of their netherest regions. They hope it's all over quickly.
And it rarely is.
Somehow, the TSA began to realize it could make a little money from human frustration.
It created TSA Pre, a system through which people could pay to avoid (most of) the pain and get through security more quickly and painlessly.
It's a business principle that has gathered momentum in recent times.
Websites want you to pay to avoid ads. Airlines want you to pay to avoid the lack of overhead bin space.
Car rental companies want you to pay to avoid the indignity of standing in line to talk to a human being.
Because, after all, you're either traveling on business or just trying to have a good time and get away from the grinding agony of your daily life.
You'd think, though, that these businesses would feel, if not guilt, then a little self-awareness for the lower level of customer experience they regularly offer.
I, for example, have been unpleasantly groped--for no obvious reason--by a TSA operative, as another agent cheered him on. (The TSA apologized.)
Still, you'd think the TSA would be sensitive to the indignities it offers. At least in public.
Yet View From the Wing's Gary Leff happened upon an ad the organization is currently running.
It's an attempt to entice you into spending $85 on TSA Pre.
It also teeters toward the higher levels of galling.
Yes, ho-ho, we make you take your shoes, belts, and jackets off. You really don't like it, do you? But if you pay us 85 bucks, you won't have to. Isn't that a great deal?
TSA Pre is undoubtedly convenient. The times I've used it, I've gone through security very quickly.
Yet some might call this ad hate-selling.
Some might think it simply reveals the slight haughtiness of a brand that has a miserable captive audience.
Many are suspicious that the TSA checks are occasionally ineffective. Too many tales emerge of passengers who sail through with guns, knives, and other supposedly banned items in their bags.
But this seems to be yet another case of a brand telling customers:
We know you dislike us. But give us some money and we'll make sure you'll dislike us slightly less.
Of course, some who do pay for TSA Pre discover that, at some airports and at far too many times of day, the service isn't available.
So, despite having paid their money, they get none of the privileges involved in actually keeping their clothes on--and their laptops stowed in their bag--that the service claims to offer.
A useful tip when you advertise to your customers is: Don't show them any contempt you might be feeling. Find a positive that isn't related to a negative you caused in the first place.
Sometimes, people see through your less-than-helpful attitude.
Next, they'll begin to resent you even more.
Shortly, they'll share their resentment with their friends.
It rarely ends well.