A high tech fraud, shell game and bait-and-switch combined with high-pressure sales, ever-changing contract terms, revenue shortfalls, safety issues plus strong-armed tactics with the media, former customers and employees, a profile of a Unicorn gone bad, is the essence of a scathing report by CNBC about JetSmarter.
Most of what was reported in an online story and nine-and-a-half minute video expose by Robert Frank was previously reported here on Private Jet Card Comparisons. However, it marks one of the first instances a major media power has addressed the issues facing the company. It includes a letter from JetSmarter’s general counsel attempting to quash the business new channel from reporting the story.
The new elements in the CNBC report include a video of a JetSmarter flight that was diverted when a passenger made terroristic threats. It revealed that despite JetSmarter’s claims about security on its shared flights where members and now the general public can reserve seats instead of the entire private jet, there was apparently no screening on that flight. A pilot who formerly flew for one of the operators JetSmarter used (JetSmarter is a broker and doesn’t actually operate its flights) tells Private Jet Card Comparisons lack of on the ground screening as detailed on the company’s website was commonplace. CNBC also reported that JetSmarter flights were used by drug dealers to transport narcotics and that the company is possibly being investigated by the FBI, something JetSmarter denied and the bureau would neither confirm or deny in the report.
One former JetSmarter member who was interviewed told CNBC, “There were definitely drug dealers of all kinds who were carrying lots of cash on the planes, in you know, designer bag…It was like $100,000 in a Goyard bag.”
Other new elements of the report was an on the record interview with a former salesperson who spoke who spoke about the high-pressure sales tactics and revelations that JetSmarter promised investors by 2020 it would have 100,000 members and over $2 billion in sales. It currently is estimated to have about 8,000 members and before its troubles around $200 million in sales. While losses continue, CNBC says the company is now making money on some flights.
We reached out to JetSmarter for comment, but at the time of this posting haven’t received a response. JetSmarter in the report, as they recently told us, tried to minimize the reports of the unhappy customers by noting the more than dozen lawsuits represent only a small fraction of its customers. CNBC also revealed that JetSmarter had sought to stop them from interviewing former employees as part of its reporting.