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Christian Nimsky's Weblog

How Not To Go Out Of Business

Christian Nimsky

Today I got the strangest email from Clear / Verified Identity Pass - the company that provides a registered traveller service in some of the major U.S. airports. The email told me that they were unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations. I loved the $120-$130 a year service - you used a special identity card and sailed through security, but this all-at-once disappearing act strikes me as ill planned.

To make sure the note was real, I went to flyclear.com. I got this note:

Clear Lanes Are No Longer Available.

At 11:00 p.m. PST on June 22, 2009, Clear will cease operations. Clear’s parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations.

Clear’s Privacy Policy

Clear’s Online Privacy Policy

There is no explanation as to why this happened, no indication of whether I get a refund of my annual fee (I’m not holding my breath but they should still tell me) and no sense of whether there is a future for them or if they are in fact DONE. I have questions:

Should I cut up my biometric security card and throw it away?  Is there any competing company that would be taking over the Clear traveller population?  What will happen to my annual fee?

If the Clear guys are reading this (and it sounds like they may have plenty of time to go online soon), I’m disappointed that you didn’t think of a better transition, especially for your paying customers.  I don’t necessarily expect you to broadcast that you are in financial trouble - people might stop signing up or renewing - but as recently as 6/3 I received a marketing email about how Clear would make a great father’s day gift.  If I was a recent subscriber I’d be pissed as hell right now.  For the rest of us who signed up at some point or other, the fact remains: Now you’re gone.  With my money.  And without a sense of whether I have anywhere to go with this card.

The money isn’t really what’s getting at me - its the lack of closure.  If you wrote me to say, “hey, this economy is a bitch and people aren’t renewing anymore…we’ve run out of cash and are shutting down.  For those of you wanting your money back, we’re using what cash we have left to provide some kind of meaningful severance for our employees…” I’d be O.K. with that actually.  I have no idea what you’ve done with the money or how responsibly / irresponsibly you ran the business up until the last minute grates on me as a former entrepreneur.

It’s hard not to judge but you’ve given me no other information so I’ll stop the commentary here.  Please update your site with some kind of explanation…as of right now it looks like you didn’t really think your operations and financial structure through very well.