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Bon Journal

Freebies with a price

Tuesday's Wall Street Journal Europe has the headlines "183,000 Job Cuts - and Counting." It shows a blue table of the layoff announcements since February. Quite shocking really!

Given the economy slowdown, companies try to cut back by cutting staff. Other companies become lean and mean by cutting support staff. Then you have to start travelling coach class instead of business. Finally, you cut back on travel altogether.

I'm very aware of these things - the downturn in the economy, the budget cuts, and the increasing feeling of gloom and doom.

As I plan my next major trip, I can't help spending more time looking for a cheaper alternative. Theoretically, I could save the company money by anchoring on a cheap ticket right now. But I will not get any flexibility at all. If I do need to change any part of the ticket, I would have to pay a heavy penalty - that is, if I am allowed to change the ticket at all.

So I spent all day today investigating alternatives. How would I minimise my flight time while maximising freebies such as airmiles and upgrades? After a long day of searching on the Web and talking to travel agents and airlines, I've come to the conclusion that freebies come at a price. The favourite direct routes to desirable destinations are already gone. Thus it pays to know what you want and what is available.

If companies want their staff to save money, they should negotiate quantity discounts on behalf of everyone. Otherwise, they end up spending time to save money. It seems like we've gone from the dot com frenzy of spending money to save time to the dot bomb explosion of spending time to save money.

30 August 2001

feedback from a reader in Malaysia, 2 Sept 2001:
I read with interest your journal entry "Freebies with a price" - just wanted to comment that everyday lucky people like us get to face the challenges of spending time to save money or spending money to save time. The unlucky people who don't have to work for a living, well, they get to spend time to waste money, or spend money to waste time.
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