A Clear Lane to Nowhere

Updated on 6/23: Thanks to those of you who emailed or tweeted back, the Clear fiasco is a much bigger problem than most people realize. This email pretty much sums it up:

They just sold me a renewal. Worse, they sent lots of solicitations to buy Clear cards as gifts (!) That must border on fraud since presumably they knew when they were selling me and doing those solicitations that they were “in the zone of insolvency” or whatever that legal term is.

I couldn’t agree more. Any company that is about to go belly-up should know not to be actively solicit new business from unsuspecting consumers. I have also heard they were pushing “Clear cards” as Father’s Day gifts. Now imagine if you gave one of those cards to someone!

Original Post: It was one of those logical ideas that couldn’t go wrong. Tightened security at the airports meant that one had to spend extra hours going through security checks, something that wasn’t convenient for busy executives, who didn’t want to waste hours standing around in lines. From that inconvenience came the idea — what if you got registered as a traveler, got approvals from all the right authorities, and received a special Clear card that would allow you to get through a special security check line called the Clear Lane?

clearlanes In 2004, founder & media magnate Steven Brill started the company, Verified Identity Pass, and over its lifetime convinced a stellar line-up of investors such as Lockhead Martin and Spark Capital to pump as much as $54 million into it. Today the company shut down — as much a victim of the economic downturn as it was of its perceived value. The downturn has led to travel budgets shrinking drastically and with it the number of executives in need of a Clear-type service. Many of the everyday travelers actually cared about the service that cost about $200 a year. The company managed to sign up just over 250,000 subscribers.

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