Good old Bill may have made up his mind too quickly on the subject of "free" airline meals.

When a customer complained that his meal had been inedible, the airline brushed him off with the comment that the meal had been free, so if it didn't suit him that was just too bad.

I said this was nonsense. Airlines are aware of the cost of food, and this cost is taken into account when airlines set their ticket prices. However, Nancy Bailey has now given me some new facts to think about.

Nancy says there are many examples of flights that are similar in all respects, including price, except that some do include food and some do not. "For example," she writes, "out of four nonstop flights from Washington to Detroit, only one serves a meal - breakfast - with no difference in fares. This is simply due to lack of time to serve lunch or dinner."

Nancy, I must admit that in forming my opinion I didn't take into consideration the fact that planes have been growing larger, so it now takes longer to serve the larger number of passengers aboard. Planes are also flying faster, so there are trips on which there isn't enough time to serve a full meal. Snacks, maybe; meals, no. I still think airline passengers as a group pay for the food served them and for every other service supplied to them. However, I will concede that the relationship between service rendered and price charged has become a fuzzy variable, not a clearcut constant. NO RUNS, NO HITS, TWO ERRORS

A READER WAS QUOTED HERE AS SAYING THAT THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NO LONGER SELLS CHRISTMAS CARDS. I HAVE SINCE LEARNED THAT CARDS ARE AGAIN AVAILABLE THROUGH HEART ASSOCIATION OFFICES, AND CALENDARS ARE, TOO. DIAL 337-6400 FOR DETAILS. (CONFLICT OF INTEREST NOTE: THE PRECEDING SENTENCES WERE TYPED WITH THE AID OF A PLASTIC HEART VALVE INSTALLED IN A FELLOW WHO THINKS A HEART CAN BE A PRETTY USEFUL PIECE OF MACHINERY, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT WORKS PROPERLY.)

SPEAKING OF CHRISTMAS CARDS, DON SHANNON TELLS ME THEY'RE ALSO ON SALE AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART - "25 CENTS EACH, AND 'ONLY' $2.75 FOR EIGHT CARDS IN A CHEAP PLASTIC WRAPPER."

I'M REMINDED OF BOB ORBEN'S COMMENT ON THE EDIBLE MONOPOLY SET THAT NEIMAN-MARCUS IS OFFERING FOR $600. BOB NEEDLED, "GSA is negotiating a special price: three for $2,000." RINGBANGERS REVISITED

There were some comments here recently about delivery drivers who bang on the door, ring the bell and then disapper if the door isn't answered instantaneously. I called them ringbangers.

An Easton, Md., reader whose name looks like Eloise Drescher responded: "I resent your comments on UPS men. You may know some that you described in your column. I invite you to come to Easton and observe our man. He is courteous, friendly and agreeable. Please don't generalize. I usually enjoy your column."

Sorry I didn't write more clearly. The only generalization I intended was, "Most packages are delivered by normal human beings." The ringbanger was discussed as an exception to the rule.

Incidentally, another letter on this subject says, "You must live in our Vantage Drive area because your description fits the lady who worked here for UPS last Christmas.

"Surely there couldn't be two like here, could there?"

I do not know where Vantage Drive is, and I suspect there are more than two ringbangers. ADD DEFINITIONS

President Carter said he wanted the government to start using simple language that ordinary people could understand , and L.E.W. offers evidence that the president is getting results.

In a proposed revision to "state public water system supervision program grant regulations," the Environmental Protection Agency has come out with this flat statement: "Non-community water systems are those public water systems that are not community water systems."

And there are people who say bureaucrats can't make up their minds about complicated issues.

HOW'S THAT AGAIN?

Charles B. Levine has sent me a clipping of an item that appeared in a suburban paper. The item was about the "Talking Book" program the government operates for people whose sight is impaired. The headline on the item was, "Talking Books for the Deaf."