Power to the People

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Let’s face it, airport travel is a pain.  But a few years ago, I discovered one way to make it a little less painful.  FreedomPark is a valet parking service that was started by a local entrepreneur named Ken Kundmueller.  You basically drive up to your gate, toss the valet your keys, and walk inside.  When you return, they meet you at the gate.  FreedomPark will even wash your car or change your oil while you’re traveling.  And they do all of this for a price that’s only a few dollars more than the airport parking garage.  The valets are really friendly and Ken is very customer focused (I’ve spoken with him several times).  It’s a great example of an entrepreneur building a business around an unmet need.

But yesterday I received an alarming email from Ken.  The airport has decided to launch its own competitive valet service (using a California-based company) and FreedomPark would no longer be allowed to use the 1 hour parking area for pickups and drop-offs (although the airport’s own valet service would use it).  Nothing like an unfair advantage, right? 

So Ken reached out to his thousands of customers via email early yesterday morning.  He asked them to contact the DFW Airport board and also the local media about this issue.  At 9:03 AM, I sent an email out expressing my concern about the airport’s anti-competitive practices.  And apparently I wasn’t the only one.

By 11AM, Ken received a call from the CEO of DFW Airport informing him that this was all a big “miscommunication” and that the airport was changing their decision.  42 minutes later, Ken also received an email:

Please. Call off your customers. How soon can you send a follow up email to them saying the problem has been solved?

The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram also picked up the story and called the Airport to the carpet.  Here’s a quote from the Dallas Morning News reporter:

By early Tuesday morning, outraged e-mails swamped my inbox like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  By midday, I had more than 50 passionate messages, some directed to airport administrators and its board and some sent directly to me.

Shame on you, DFW.  And power to the people!

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