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Thursday, 07 November 2013 14:15

This has nothing whatever to do with wine. But stay with me a minute.

Picture this: your computer monitor just died, so you head to Best Buy for a replacement. You find one you like -- it's priced at $199 -- and put the box into your cart. While you're in the store, you decide to waste a few minutes and head over to look at that fancy 60" LED TV you've been drooling over. You compare its picture to a few other big-screens, a clerk comes by to chat, and before you know it you've wasted almost half an hour.

"I've got to get out of here," you think. You head to the front checkout.

The cashier waves her scanner. "That'll be $287, plus tax," she says.

"What do you mean? It's $199! That's the price on the shelf -- I saw it when I put it in my cart!"

You head back to the computer department, just in time to see a clerk walking away. That $199 sign is in his hand, and a brand-spanking-new sign is on the shelf, next to the monitor you planned to buy. The new sign says $287.

Impossible? They'll do something about it? Alll you need to do is talk to a manager, right? They can't do that; it's against the law?

Not if they're Delta Airlines.

Sorry if I sound angry. But right now, I'm seething. A couple of hours ago, I was on the Delta website to book tickets to a family wedding. I'd selected the flights -- $199 apiece -- with no indication that I needed to hurry, such as "only 3 seats left at this price".

I was filling in the names on the next page, when I realized I didn't have Sally's Delta frequent flyer number. She was at lunch, and called me back twenty minutes later.

Sorry, too late. While I was waiting, Delta raised the price of the tickets.

Not $5 or $10. Not $20 or $30.

No, our tickets were now $287 apiece -- an increase of $88, or 44%. In the space of twenty minutes. Even though the tickets were already in my cart and I was in the middle of completing the information to purchase them.

Yes, I know, sucks to be me. The fine print on the website lets them to do this. Nothing is guaranteed until you've purchased the tickets. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But what other business treats their customers this way? (OK, maybe the cable company...) What business is so arrogant that it doesn't even let a customer complete a transaction in progress, at the price that's been offered?

And the airlines wonder why people hate them.

A couple of years back, the Supreme Court told us that corporations are people. I'm no lawyer, so I'll take their word for it.

But if corporations are people, then Delta Airlines is a sociopath. Or, as Wikipedia describes it, "a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others."

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KIM'S SECRET STASH

Recently-deceased Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was a wine geek (and reputed alcoholic) with a 10,000-bottle cellar, according to ex-Slate wine columnist Mike Steinberger. Kim earlier gave up Hennessy Cognac on doctor's orders.